Justin Allen has always liked sports, especially the grueling sport of mountain biking.
The Jordan High senior proudly represented the Beetdiggers at the state mountain biking championships this year and routinely finishes among the top 10 varsity cyclists in Utah.
But if you ask Allen’s peers and teachers to describe him, they’ll tell you about his character. “He just always has a smile on his face, even when he’s crossing the finish line exhausted,” said Jordan’s mountain biking advisor Bob Spears. “He’s a hard worker who knows what he needs to do and gets it done. People are drawn to that. They’re drawn to his humility and kindness.”
Allen, who also played tennis and ran track his freshman and sophomore years, said mountain biking, in particular, got him thinking about sports nutrition and optimizing athletic performance through flexibility, agility and strength training.
It’s an interest he hopes to pursue as a pre-med and kinesiology student at the University of Utah. “I’m just really interested in the science of exercise,” he said.
What Allen won’t tell you is that he’s Jordan High’s valedictorian. He managed a heavy academic load, earning several hours of early college credit through Advanced Placement classes while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. He also earned a 35 on the ACT college-entrance exam, just one point shy of a perfect score.
“Honestly, high school isn’t that hard if you go to class and do your work,” he said.
Like with mountain biking, performing academically takes practice. For Allen, showing up and making the most of his time in class was as important as showing up for his teammates. You’ve only got one high school experience, he said, so why not make the most of it?
Looking back, he said he is most thankful for the teachers and counselors who encouraged him to stretch past his comfort zones.
“I’d say my AP Language class taught by Mrs. Stone was pivotal for me. She had us writing essays the first day of class, which wasn’t great,” Allen said. “But that’s where I started to become a good writer.”