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Aaron Swaney and Herald staff | aswaney@heraldnet.com
Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012, 10:29 p.m.

Neale hopes for third charm in Saturday's Nike National championship

It all comes down to this.

Glacier Peak's Amy Eloise-Neale is looking for her third straight win -- and, possibly, third straight course record -- in Saturday's Nike National Cross Country championship (NXN) in Portland.

Neale is coming off wins, and record setting performances, in the NXN Northwest championship and Border Clash. The former came the week after she won the 3A state title in her final official cross country race of her high school career.

The following postseason races are with clubs and organizations. Athletes don't wear their high school uniforms.

The Glacier Peak senior won the NXN Northwest championship in Boise, with a time of 17 minutes, 29.3 seconds, finishing ahead of longtime rival Katie Knight of North Central (17:40.1). The two recently committed to run together at the University of Washington next year.

On Nov. 18, Neale followed that win up with a victory in the Nike Border Clash at the Nike Campus in Beaverton, Ore. Neale set another course record, finishing in a time of 15:33, one second ahead of second-place finisher Alexa Efraimson. Knight finished third.

Now Neale looks to finish on top in the final race, the NXN championship.

One preview has Neale finishing third, behind defending champion Sarah Baxter, a junior from Simi Valley, Calif., and Bronxville, N.Y. junior Mary Cain.

The article says she's "definitely a threat" to win the race.

Another preview ranks Neale as the No. 4 runner in the U.S. This preview notes that the weather in Oregon may give Neale a home-course advantage.

"And remember," the preview states, "if conditions are really challenging out there with rain and mud Saturday, Neale is as strong as anyone in the field."

It is Neale's fourth NXN championship, with her finishing 14th, 3rd and 5th in previous races.

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