Isaiah Allen knew it was coming, but that didn't make it any easier when the official announcement happened.
Last Thursday, the NCAA announced that all of the Division I, II and III winter and spring championships were canceled for the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Allen and his Tiffin University indoor track and field teammates were already in Birmingham, Alabama preparing for the Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships, which were set to begin the next day when the news about the cancellation came out. Allen, a 2019 Sherando graduate, said that his head coach had already informed the team that were rumors it might happen.
"I could kind of tell that it was coming, but I was hoping, you know fingers crossed, that it wouldn't happen," Allen said Tuesday afternoon in a phone interview. "It's kind of one of those things where you know something bad's coming, but you try to turn a blind eye to it, because you don't want to acknowledge it yet at that point."
Allen said he was hoping since everyone was already there on site preparing for the meet that they would at least let the athletes perform one last time but that didn't happen.
"It was pretty heartbreaking, especially just for all my friends on the team that are seniors," Allen said. "Just seeing their dreams of being national champions or placing as an All-American go down the drain that quickly within a matter of hours."
What made matters worse was the cancellation of the spring championships and the entire spring track season.
"The fact that they canceled the spring season just blows my mind," Allen said. "It's weird waking up in these past couple days knowing that I don't have practice or I don't have a lift or anything to do that's mandatory. It's just shocking to know that for the first time in a long time through the spring and the summer I won't have meets or any competition or practices to look forward to that are mandatory by the school or just seeing people on the weekends at track meets."
Allen said that it took a little time for him to get over it, but he knows he has to move on and start thinking about next season.
"I was pretty upset about it at first, but then I kind of sat back and was like 'well hopefully this is all for the betterment of the whole population,'" he said. "Now that I've had time to think about it, I've had time to calm down. It is what it is. I can only continue to do what I'm doing now, which is just training and preparing towards next year."
Allen said that he's been staying in his dorm at Tiffin University and he has been working out some from there, but they are now restricting that as well so he's had to stay mostly in his dorm. He said that he will probably be coming home later this week and figure out what to do. Allen said there are no classes at Tiffin until at least March 30.
This season was an up and down one for the freshman, who enjoyed lots of success at Sherando. Allen won an indoor and an outdoor state title in the shot out his senior year of high school.
He said that the shot put balls are heavier in college and that took him a while to get used to.
Allen made the adjustment and finished fourth in the Tiffin Dragon Open on Jan. 18. Three weeks later, Allen achieved his season personal record in the Dragon Grand Prix on Feb. 8.
He threw a 57-4.75, which helped to him to fourth in the meet, which was hosted by Tiffin University. Allen said what made it even more special was two of his teammates had big throws right after him. Then a teammate behind him threw a 63-7.75 and then another teammate threw a 67, but it went foul.
"I was screaming, yelling I know after my PR," Allen said. "I was just yelling, I was so excited. Them my teammate PR'd and we were yelling even more. Then my last teammate, we didn't even watch him foul it, we just saw where it landed. The whole entire indoor facility is going crazy, absolutely nuts. Then we realized he fouled it and everybody's just like 'oh'. So I think that's probably one of my favorite memories throughout the season that probably has capped off my freshman year, basically."
Allen has finished in fourth several times in meets this season, and it's usually his three teammates in front of him. Junior Nikolas Curtiss, senior Eric Jackson and sophomore Jabari Bennett, along with Allen gave Tiffin University one of the top shot put groups in all of Division II.
Allen said he learned a lot from the trio this season.
"I truly do credit my success as a freshman to them," Allen said. "I think that just cause the fact that I see how hard those guys worked and the capabilities that I believe that I have. They tell me all the time that I can achieve anything that they've done. I think that helped push me a lot, especially when I got up here and was getting adjusted. They were just consistently, just giving me tips and things and extra guidance. And I finally started finding my groove and just kind of relaxing and just kind of spreading my wings and found my own rhythm. They guided me a little bit."
Allen said he felt like the last few weeks of practice had been going well and felt like he would have done well at nationals.
Now he will have to find a way to refocus and get ready for next season. Allen said that he's trying his best to stay in some sort of routine, but it's been tough.
"It's definitely taken me for a loop and I'm just trying my best to hold on," he said.