Crossing the finish line on Saturday morning at Percy Warner Steeplechase Park, Neglia won her third individual state championship in the large schools cross country girls event, matching Carla McCready (1993-95) as D-B’s only other three-time individual champion. She is also just the ninth girl to win the individual title at least three times.
Her time of 17:22.9 ranks inside the all-time top five at Percy Warner for 5-kilometers.
The usual stoic Neglia even cracked a smile as she crossed the line, as she comfortably won over Fred J. Page’s Leigh Walters by 29 seconds.
Science Hill’s Jenna Hutchins — who was the defending individual champion — finished third, after falling less than 10 meters from the finish, in 17:54.95.
“I knew this was going to be a tough race,” said Neglia, who was disqualified in last year’s state meet for making a wrong turn. “We have a lot of tough courses in East Tennessee and I knew I could run them.”
To make it all the better, the Lady Indians won their first team title since 1997 in dominating fashion with 60 points. Brentwood was runner-up with 95.
“It’s so exciting for our team,” Neglia said. “To me, it’s much more exciting than the individual title.”
Fellow senior Emma Russum followed up her all-state performance from last season with another one, crossing in 18:39.79, which was good for seventh. Her time was a new personal best.
The Lady Indians had four in the top 25 as freshman Autumn Headrick (20th in 19:38.16) and senior Julianna McReynolds (21st in 19:38.19) helped out the Tribe.
Gracie Allen rounded out the scoring in 44th in 20:21.45.
“Four years ago and even last year, we came down here and we were hoping to win,” D-B head coach Bob Bingham said. “They came down here this year — and it may sound cocky or arrogant — but we were expecting to win.
“Each one of our seniors has their own little story whether it being overcoming injury or illness. It’s just awesome to see. … The craziness of last year just made it that much more special. To put Sasha in the same breath as Carla in the history of Dobyns-Bennett is saying a lot. I just want to give a huge shoutout to Coach (Tom) Coughenour and (Dan) Crowe for getting the program started. We’ve just been fortunate enough to carry on the tradition.”
“My four years here at D-B has been an amazing experience,” Neglia said. “I wouldn’t have any other way and I’ve had so much fun running in East Tennessee.”
Other local individuals that finished inside the top 30 included Tennessee High freshman Zoe Arrington in 14th (19:09), Daniel Boone freshman Kamryn Wingfield (22nd, 19:39) and David Crockett junior Rachel Dulaney (23rd, 19:46).
Science Hill finished fourth in the team standing with 162 points. Daniel Boone placed eighth with 221.
JONES SEES GAMBLE PAY OFF
Science Hill senior Aaron Jones has been near the top of nearly every race he’s run this season and he backed it up with a seventh-place finish after going out with the leaders early on. He finished up in 16:03.25.
Henry County’s Silas Winders won the individual title, as expected, in 15:28.98 and Siegel cruised to the team title with 80 points.
“I went into the race trying to put myself into it,” Jones said. “I have times that are close enough to everyone else that I’m within striking distance. I wasn’t scared of anyone in that race and it paid dividends because I ran well today.”
Daniel Boone sophomore Conner Wingfield was so close to finishing with all-state honors, missing it by two seconds. He was 16th in 16:17.37.
The Trailblazers exceeded projections on the boys’ side much like the girls, as they finished eighth.
No other locals finished inside the top 30.