Neale cruised to a gold medal in the 3,000-meter run Saturday at the National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, adding to the gold she won in the steeplechase earlier in the week.
While battling oppressive heat on the track and a side-ache, Neale finished the race with a winning time of 10 minutes, 22.88 seconds, nearly 8 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Sidney Scott of Colorado.
"It seemed like it was over pretty quick," Neale's Snohomish Track Club head coach Frank Dauncey said. "She separated herself from the other competitors really early."
Dauncey noted that Neale might have over-hydrated herself during pre-race warmups, lending to the side-ache she suffered midway through the race and causing Neale to take her foot off the gas.
Dauncey said there was another issue in the runner's mind that kept her from pushing too hard in the 3,000-meter final -- today's 1,500-meter finale.
The 1,500-meter run is Neale's premier event and she will go for her third gold in three races in it at Hughes Stadium on the campus of Sacramento City College.
"Sometimes it's hard to push hard knowing you've got a race the next day," Dauncey said. "Especially when you have the lead she had (in the 3,000-meters)."
The 1,500-meter run is "the race that we train for," he added. "Tomorrow is really important for her."
Neale, who recorded the third fastest time in her 1,500-meter preliminary heat, won two gold medals at the USATF Junior Olympics in 2007, one in 2008, two in 2009 and two more this week. The Manchester, England, native is hoping to become an eight-time gold medal winner in today's 1,500-meter final, then take some much needed time off, Dauncey said.
"We're looking forward to getting this done and getting her some time off," Dauncey said, adding that Neale has been training hard since last September without much of a rest. "She deserves some time off."
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