But in the final 100 meters Neale showed she's not just an endurance runner, she can mix in a little power, too.
Neale put on a punishing kick down the final stretch, pulling away to win the girls 3A 3,200 to highlight the first day of the girls 2A-3A-4A state track and field meet Thursday at Mount Tahoma High School.
"My mindset today was I wanted to get a (personal record) and make sure when I finished I knew I ran my hardest," Neale said. "So even when it hurts I just try to push through it."
Neale, a sophomore, won in an electrifying time of 10 minutes, 12.33 seconds. That shattered the previous 3A state meet record of 10:31.75, which she set while winning the race last year as a freshman.
But the decisive moment didn't happen until coming off the final turn of the eighth-and-final lap when Neale took off, rubbed Knight off on a lapped runner, then sprinted to a comfortable victory, beating Knight by more than two seconds.
Not that Neale considered it comfortable.
"I was just focusing on the finish line, hoping to get there as fast as I could," Neale said. "When it hurts you kind if want to be done. I just tried to push through it.
"(I didn't know I had it) until the last 50 meters, and even then she could still come back because you don't know where she is," Neale added. "I just try not to tell myself that at any point in the race, really, because you never really got it until you finish."
The championship was the fifth individual state title of Neale's young career, joining her championships in the 3,200 and 1,600 last year, as well as her two cross country titles. She goes for No. 6 on Saturday in the 1,600.
"It's nice having one behind me because now I can be a little more relaxed for the 1,600 and see what happens," said Neale, who considers the 1,600 her best event. "Having just the two events means I can get a lot of rest, which is really nice."
In the 4A discus, Arlington junior Alexis Sarver produced the throw of her lifetime to place second with a distance of 134 feet, 5 inches.
"This feels very good," Sarver said. "It was a long season and I finally broke the 130s on my last throw, so that was exciting."
The throwers faced a strong headwind that became stronger as the event went along, and Sarver was the only athlete who improved her mark during the event's final three throws.
Sarver was already sitting in second place when, on the second-to-last throw of the event, she uncorked a beauty to make a run at the lead. All those in attendance held their breaths as they awaited the announcement of the distance to see if Sarver moved into first. However, although Sarver improved her mark by nearly seven feet, it still fell two feet short of the winning throw of 136-3 by Kentwood's Alyx Toeaina.
"I try not to let the weather affect how I throw," Sarver said about her efforts. "I've never thrown in this amount of wind before, but I try to make the best of it.
"I gave it a run," Sarver added about her last throw. "But I'm OK with getting second. It was a lifetime PR, and I didn't even qualify for state last year. So going from that to second place is a big accomplishment."
In the 2A portion of the meet Lakewood had two athletes earn medals Thursday.
In the 3,200, Lakewood senior Chelsea Stokes wasn't even in the original field, but was a late addition as an alternate after one of the original competitors scratched. She then proceeded to finish fourth in a time of 11:27.15.
Then in the javelin, freshman Skylar Cannon took sixth with a throw of 117-8.
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