Petaluma’s Scranton looks to reach state track and field meet

Petaluma junior Allison Scranton won the shot put title at the Sonoma County League meet earlier this month. JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat

Petaluma junior Allison Scranton won the shot put title at the Sonoma County League meet earlier this month.
JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

California’s high school track championships are within Allison Scranton’s reach as she carries the North Coast Section’s top discus mark into the regional finals this weekend.

Even as she seeks to peak on the track, the Petaluma junior also competes for an elite Bay Area girls’ basketball team in the middle of a national tournament schedule.

“It’s been awesome,” Scranton said. “If anything, they work together. Track keeps me in shape for basketball. And my basketball moves and form complement track.”

A standout on the track since her freshman year, Scranton has improved by great strides on the basketball court.
While she aims to play both sports at the college level, Scranton first is focused on securing a spot in the CIF Track & Field Championships. Just shy of qualifying for state in the shot put as a freshman, Scranton narrowly missed earning a spot for the discus competiton a year later.

“It’s been a little disheartening, but she bounces back,” Petaluma track coach Doug Johnson said. “God’s blessed her a great deal. She’s got all the elements to be a great athlete.”

Topping just over 6 feet tall since middle school, Scranton also has the size to heave the discus and shot put.

While a year in ballet didn’t excite Scranton as a young girl, she remains nimble and quick on her feet.

Breaking out among the Empire’s best as a Petaluma freshman, Scranton had the fifth longest shot put and was 12th in the discus throw at the NCS championships.

Personal bests came a year later. Scranton set the No. 6 Empire All-Time mark in the discus. That sophomore season, she also came through with the No. 12 Empire All-Time distance in the shot put.

“Every meet, you go in wanting PR’s, though it gets tougher when your numbers are so consistently high,” Scranton said.

Such are the trials for elite athletes seeking improvement on already superior marks.

“She wants to be the best,” Johnson said.

When in top form this season, Scranton has been short of her marks from a year ago.

“It’s been kind of up and down,” she said. “Trying to build up to where I was has been difficult.”

The strength is there. Scranton has reached longer distances with standing throws in practice. Footwork remains the challenge. Scranton continues sharpening the spin for discus and glide in shot put to improve meet marks.

“She’s starting to come around here,” Johnson said. “Sometimes harder work doesn’t help. What you need is a little speed and a lot of relaxation.”

A smoother approach in the discus helped Scranton throw her season-best at last week’s NCS Redwood Empire Area Track & Field Championships. While still 6 inches short of her personal record, the distance is the region’s top mark entering the section finals, at UC Berkeley today and Saturday.

“When it happens right, it will go far,” she said. “That consistency is what I’m working for. I’m really focusing on footwork and getting the technique moving in one piece.”

Finding better footing in the shot put has been more of a test for Scranton. With the ninth-longest throw among all competitors after last week’s NCS area meets, going into the section championships, Scranton might need a personal best to reach state.

When not working out on the track much of the week, Scranton treks to the East Bay two nights a week for practices with the Cal Stars girls’ basketball program.

One of the Nike Girls’ Elite Youth Basketball Programs, the Cal Stars teams play a national schedule, including college showcases. Scranton made the Nike Flight team, one step below the program’s top squad. Both units feature some of the Bay Area’s top players.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “Every practice is basically another tryout. All the girls on the team are super, super good and want to play at the next level.”

College ball also is a goal for Scranton, who invests the time and energy needed to improve and compete with a top travel basketball program. Now a better shooter, rebounder and student of the game, Scranton shared MVP honors in the SCL as a junior, and earned a second All-Empire selection.

“She’s dynamite,” said Johnson, the longtime Petaluma girls’ basketball coach. “If she becomes more aggressive, the sky’s the limit.”

Scranton’s competitive side is emerging, evident in both sports. In track, she’s also a strong high jumper and has long jumped. In basketball, she wanted a tougher challenge after playing travel ball on a Marin team. Juggling both sports, including hours of travel weekly during the school year, can be tiring, Scranton said. But balancing the busy schedule is not the reason for her uneven track season, she said.

Track athletes want to be at their best for the season ending major meets. Scranton is confident going into the NCS championships, aided by her past experience of twice competing in the section meets.

“I’ve barely missed going to state, so I’m really hoping that this weekend I’ll have a good throw when it counts,” she said.
Moving up the Empire track record books is another aim, particularly with her senior season still ahead.

“Those are definitely numbers I can hit,” Scranton said. “I want to get back to surprising people at meets.”

Michael Coit can be reached at Mike.Coit@pressdemocrat.com.

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