Neglia finished 15th overall in 17:29.8 for 5K in the Nike Cross Nationals meet at Glendoveer Golf Course, making a 45-second and nine spot improvement from last year. She is the first All-American runner in school history for the Indians.
“It really hasn’t set in yet,” she said. “I was really happy with the time, and the course was in much better condition this year. I felt like I was more relaxed this year going into the race. Last year, I was just happy to make it to nationals. This year, I really tried to focus on the race more. I think this was one of my better races. Last year, the regional race was better than nationals, and this year I wanted to do better than the regional meet.”
“Honestly, it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person,” D-B head coach Bob Bingham said. “She does all the little things right with eating, sleeping, stuff you do at home and everything else.
“This really solidifies her among the best in the country. She ran against some good runners here today, and she took care of business.”
New York junior Katelyn Tuohy successfully defended her title, breaking her own course record in 16:37. Central Oregon (Summit HS) became the first team to win on home soil, beating out North Naperville (Ill.) by 66 points (120-186).
Neglia ran an intelligent race from the gun, going out near the front as she usually does, running in the top 10 for the first half-mile of the race. She hit the first mile in 5:20.2 and was sitting in 17th.
“I went out pretty hard because I didn’t want to get caught in the back like I did last year,” she said. “I felt good even though I might have gone out a little hard. I knew that I wasn’t going to be at the very front of the race because there are a lot of great runners in the race. It really wasn’t that much different than it usually is not running at the very front.”
The second mile is known for having a lot of turns and the bulk of the hills on the course. Her second mile split was slower in 5:49.3, but she was still holding 17th position.
Coming into the final stages of the race, Neglia was right ahead of a big chase pack and held off most of them and even moved up a couple of places. She covered the last 1.1 miles in 6:20 (5:45 pace). She came within 11 seconds of a personal best on a tough course with lots of turns.
“These were not ideal conditions. It wasn’t nearly as bad as last year or even last week with the standing water all over the place, but it was typical Portland weather,” Bingham said.
“I felt like going last year really helped me because I knew the course and I knew what to expect. I’m still really excited that my time was so much better,” she said.
There were 204 entrants in the race and included 31 different individual state champions.
Some of the notable names that Neglia beat included Katelynne Hart, who was the best runner in the state of Illinois this year. She also beat London Culbreath, who was virtually unchallenged in the state of Texas this fall, winning the largest division at state and winning the Foot Locker South Regional last weekend. Other highly-touted names she bested included Sarah Connelly (New York), Grace Ping (Minn.) and Samantha Schadler (Ariz.).
“The opportunities to coach someone like this don’t come around very often, and you want to try to do things right,” Bingham said. “She’s such a good person and she works so hard. She ran such a good race today.”