Neale ekes out third win at Junior Olympics

Amy-Eloise Neale said she didn’t know what type of race to expect in the 1,500-meter championship run.

But with a gold medal at stake, a sprint for the finish line in the final 100 meters was what Neale had to do to remain a perfect 3-for-3 with race wins at the 2010 USATF National Junior Olympics, squeaking out a victory by six-tenths of a second in Sacramento, Calif.

“I saw a nervous young lady with a triple crown awaiting,” Snohomish Track Club coach Frank Dauncey said as he watched from the crowd, unable to coach the young running star because of WIAA rules. “A little nervous, a little frightened, but she ran very smart.”

With only 100 meters between her and another gold medal, Neale of Glacier Peak High School found herself battling Peak Distance runner Gina Hauptman. Neale said she was in perfect position as she performs best off other runners, and nosed ahead at the finish with a time of 4 minutes, 42 seconds. Hauptman was just behind her at 4:42.63.

Neale said she was relieved to win the race as it had the stiffest competition, including Hauptman, who finished in third last year. Two other runners quickly took off ahead of the pack, but their pace slowed, allowing the pack to catch up, with Neale taking the lead. It came down to the battle between Neale and Hauptman, with the rest of the pack finishing nearly 10 seconds or more behind.

“It was a really stirring finish. It was a relief to her (to win the race),” Dauncey said, “and really nice to see the three gold medals hanging around her neck.”

In her sixth year of running in the Junior Olympics, Neale is undefeated in eight races.

“It has just been a great week,” Dauncey said. “She looked good from the start of racing on Tuesday and it culminated to be the perfect week for her.”

In the same race, Oak Harbor’s Christina Wicker (Whidbey Island Running Club) finished 12th at 5:09.49. Oak Harbor’s Adrianna Royal (Federal Way Track Club) finished eighth in the 1,500 meter Young Women’s competition at 4:55.05.

King’s javelin thrower Curtis Clauson made the most of his final attempt, hurling the javelin 60.03 meters, good for third place in the Young Men’s competition.

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