What started as a challenge nine years ago, has turned into a chance at the Olympics.
Senior track and field star Allie Updike accepted the challenge to throw a javelin from a basketball teammate in high school and has since gone on to prove that she really can do anything she puts her mind to.
“My junior year in high school was when I won state and went to junior USAs,” Updike said. “That’s when I thought I could actually go to college for track and field. It hit me then that this is something I could pursue.”
That’s exactly what she did. Since then, Updike has become Azusa Pacific’s first female Division-II National Champion in the javelin.
Although Updike knows that a great deal of pressure comes with being the NCAA Division II National Champion, she says most of it comes from herself, not the coaches.
Rather than thinking of this season as being her last opportunity to perform, Updike thinks more about how much she will miss APU and the team that has become her family.
“I’m a competitor at heart and I want to win, but just knowing it’s my last season is sad,” Updike stated.
However, when she does deal with pressure, Updike likes to take some quiet time to talk to God about the situation. She also meets with a sports psychologist, because she finds that it calms her when she can talk and work through problems. Her main motivation through it all is to always set goals for herself.
Updike’s main goal for this season is not only to defend her national title, but to support those around her.
“It’s more of having your teammates and coaches around you and just making it more about the atmosphere and the relationships you create,” Updike stated. “In 10 years, no one is going to remember that I was a national champion, so the relationships I make are what really matters.”
The grind of daily practice has been frustrating at times.
“I’m the type of athlete where it’s hard to talk to me once I’ve hit that point,” Updike said. “I think Coach [Mike] Barnett does a really good job at recognizing that I’m frustrated, helping me toward being okay where I’m at and helping me focus on one thing I’m doing wrong then working from there.”
Coach Barnett stated that he believes Updike uses her gift from God as her motivation. After suffering two torn ACLs and missing two years on the track in high school and one year in college, Barnett said that her motivation to overcome those injuries and finish the season strong motivates the rest of the team. In addition, she serves as a team leader and truly cares about her teammates.
“People look to her for wisdom, not just about track and field but about life and its issues,” Barnett said.
Sophomore thrower Amber Panapa said that the most important lesson she has learned from Updike is to always work hard toward the things she’s passionate about. In order to get what she wants out of life, Panapa learned that one has to have dedication and put in the extra work to achieve it.
“Her work ethic gets to me personally,” Panapa said. “Just in life, if you want something and are passionate about it, you have to put in work.”
Updike was recognized as the PacWest Woman’s Field Athlete of the week for the week of April 6 after a performance that automatically qualified her for the NCAA DII outdoor championship. She also regained the national lead in women’s javelin.
“I love seeing that my accomplishments bring recognition to APU,” Updike said. “I don’t really like being thrown out there, but it recognizes my coaches’ hard work as well.”
Panapa said that the team was not shocked at all about the award and that Updike’s hard work always pays off.
“When we see her getting awards, we know that she works hard and deserves it,” Panapa said.
Barnett mentioned his excitement about the award because he knows there will be more to come, not just at this level, but at the national level as well.
Updike competed in the Mt. SAC Relays and the Bryan Clay Invitational and will look to finish off the season strongly at the Triton Invitational and PacWest Conference Championships in late April and the National Championships in late May. This summer, Updike will travel to Oregon University to compete in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on July 7.