Passing on the baton

Veteran sprinter aims to make a name for himself after brother was a two-time Pac-12 champion at WSU



Corey Allen, a junior track and field athlete, talks about his experience as part of WSU’s team. Allen said his biggest motivation in the sport is his brother, who was also a track and field athlete at WSU.

DYLAN GREENE, Evergreen deputy sports editor

Junior Corey Allen could tell at a young age he was born to compete on a track when he ran circles around his friends during recess.

“It was always something I was better at,” he said.

His brother, CJ Allen, had the same gift and growing up Corey looked to him as a role model.

CJ, 23, paved the way for his younger sibling and passed on the lessons he learned in life and on the track to Corey. Whenever CJ tried a certain type of workout or running style, he was able to pass on his experience to Corey.

“The way that we do things is similar,” CJ said, “so if something doesn’t work for me, typically the same thing isn’t going to work for him.”

The two brothers did everything together. When it came time for Corey to decide what he wanted to do after high school, CJ was already in his sophomore season of track at WSU.

Corey didn’t look at coming to Pullman, though. Instead he had his eyes set on running track at Eastern Washington University.

But when he started to think about his decision even more, Corey realized attending EWU wasn’t what he was supposed to do with his life, so he joined the Marine Corps.

Corey spent a year in the Marine Corps before deciding he wanted to return to the track in 2016. CJ heard the news and made sure to put in a good word for his brother to the WSU coaches.

Corey knew he hurt his chances of being able to run track in college by taking a year off, but CJ said it helped his brother find his own identity.

“At a certain point in time you just got to go out on your own and just do your own thing,” CJ said. “I think the Marine Corps was just that for him. He had something that he needed to find in himself.”

Corey decided to walk on to the track team and admitted CJ played a key role in his choice.

“I think having him here made me feel better about myself and my training,” Corey said. “I knew that if he could be successful here, I could be successful here.”

CJ competed on the track team from 2013-2017 and was the Pac-12 champion in the 400-meter hurdles his freshman and junior year. CJ signed professionally recently and hopes to compete in the World Championships in Athletics in 2019 and qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The brothers ran together for one year in Corey’s first season and CJ’s final year at WSU. Despite being on a team with one another, the pair didn’t compete in the same events except for one: the 4×400-meter relay.

In CJ’s final season, he literally and figuratively passed the baton onto his younger brother Corey in the 4×400 relay.

“It was pretty symbolic,” CJ said. “It was kind of just like passing the torch off. That was the last thing we did together on a relay, so it was a special moment for us.”

Corey said he never thought about receiving the baton from his older brother until it actually happened.

“It was unreal,” Corey said. “It’s just a moment I’ll never forget.”

Now heading into his third season with the Cougars, Corey looks to cement his own legacy at WSU and follow in his brother’s footsteps.

Corey said last season he didn’t perform to his expectations because he was stressed out trying to balance school, life and track. This year, the 21-year-old said he is focusing on finding time for himself and setting personal records.

“Now that I’m an upperclassman, I’ve been through it all,” Corey said. “I think it’s just believing that I can compete at the highest level.”

Corey will kick off his season this weekend at the Bronco Invite in Nampa, Idaho, and compete in the 400-meter and 4×400-meter relay. He believes the relay team has the potential to place at Pac-12 Championships this year.

After college, Corey plans on attending Platoons Leader Class and becoming an officer in the Marine Corps.

Corey said it’s been difficult to live up to the high expectations placed on him due to CJ’s success, but he’s hoping to make a name for himself.

“So far my brother has had a better career here, but I’m not done yet,” he said. “I have two more years here and I’m going to keep doing whatever it takes.”