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Virgen: Julie was a 'positive force'

January 19, 2011|By Steve Virgen
  • Julia Allen is shown as Daily Pilot athlete of the week in May 2002.
Julia Allen is shown as Daily Pilot athlete of the week… (Sean Hiller, Daily…)

These days many people don't know what to think of Julie Allen, the former Corona del Mar High School standout distance runner who is now at the center of a horrific 10-car accident.

When I think of Julie, I think of the athlete. I also think of the person. When I think about reporting on her high-school career nine years ago, I remember a very sweet girl.

But now mystery surrounds her after she died Saturday. She drove on West Coast Highway well above the speed limit, police said, and went into oncoming traffic. It ended with a 10-car collision. Her life ended, as well as two others. Police are trying to piece together clues.

It has sent shock and sadness throughout the community. An autopsy was performed Tuesday. Not many know what to think of Julie now.

While many are baffled about what she did that day, maybe a quote from her can give everyone a better idea of who she was. It came toward the end of her senior year, which was a rough time for Julie.

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Finishing sixth in the state in the 3,200-meter race disappointed her. It seemed, at the time, she was running to stand still. So much was in her life: track and field, schoolwork, a senior project and thoughts of more responsibility waiting for her when she went to Stanford, which offered her a full scholarship.

But Julie still found a way to give me an idea of who she was back then.

"Running for me is like an example of how you are as an athlete and as a person," she said. "As an athlete I bring out the best person in me."

As a competitor, Julie provided a glimpse of the type of person she was. To this day, I have never seen an athlete show such great sportsmanship. Back then it seemed almost too good to be true.

She made it a point to try to congratulate each runner after a race. Yes, even the ones who finished behind everyone else.

She would always cheer on her teammates. She was such a positive force.

I had seen her mad and I had seen her serious, but most of the time she was happy.

"She's always this bundle of energy," CdM Coach Bill Sumner said of her then. "You know those happy-smiley faces? Put a pair of legs on that and you have Julie Allen."

Sumner has always been very fond of Julie, as an athlete and a person. Back then, he called her one of the greatest athletes to ever come through CdM.

She transferred in from Fountain Valley, making big news in the process. She broke school records, won CIF section titles and received several season-ending awards.

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