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Neglia becomes three-time champion, leads Lady Indians to state XC title

Tanner Cook • Nov 2, 2019 at 9:18 PM

NASHVILLE — Nearly one year to the day a huge controversy within the last quarter-mile of the TSSAA Large Schools cross country meet resulted in disqualification, Dobyns-Bennett senior Sasha Neglia became golden again.

Crossing the finish line on Saturday morning at Percy Warner Steeplechase Park, Neglia won her third individual state championship to match Carla McCready (1993-95) as D-B’s only three-time individual champions.

Neglia also became just the ninth female runner to win the individual title at least three times. Her time of 17:22.9 ranks inside the top five all-time for 5 kilometers at Percy Warner.

The usually stoic Neglia even cracked a smile when she crossed the line to win comfortably over Fred J. Page’s Leigh Walters by 29 seconds.

“I knew this was going to be a tough race,” Neglia said. “We have a lot of tough courses in East Tennessee and I knew I could run them.”

Topping off the day, the Lady Indians captured their first team title since 1997 — a dominating victory that saw them compile 60 points to runner-up Brentwood’s 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 a personal-best 18:39.79 to finish seventh.

The Lady Indians had four in the top 25. Freshman Autumn Headrick (20th, 19:38.16) and senior Julianna McReynolds (21st, 19:38.19) helped out the Tribe, and Gracie Allen (44th, 20:21.45) rounded out the scoring.

“Four years ago and even last year, we came down here and we were hoping to win,” D-B 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 be 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 it any other way and I’ve had so much fun running in East Tennessee.”

LAST YEAR’S CONTROVERSY

With less than 400 meters to go in the 2018 meet, confusion on the course led Neglia to cut in front of an evergreen tree when she was supposed to go behind it. She eventually got back on the course after having cut 20 meters but was disqualified for cutting the course and gaining a clear advantage.

OTHER LOCAL STANDOUTS

Science Hill’s Jenna Hutchins, the defending individual champion, was third Saturday in a time of 17:54.95 after falling less than 10 meters from the finish.

Other local individuals finishing inside the top 30 were Tennessee High freshman Zoe Arrington (14th, 19:09), Daniel Boone freshman Kamryn Wingfield (22nd, 19:39) and David Crockett junior Rachel Dulaney (23rd, 19:46).

Science Hill’s girls had 162 points to finish fourth in the team standings. Daniel Boone was 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 in the boys’ event after going out with the leaders early on. He crossed in 16:03.25.

“I went into the race trying to put myself into it,” Jones said. “I have times 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.”

As expected, Henry County’s Silas Winders won the individual title in 15:28.98, and Siegel cruised to the team title with 80 points.

Daniel Boone sophomore Conner Wingfield missed earning all-state honors by a mere two seconds. Wingfield finished 16th in 16:17.37.

No other locals finished inside the top 30.

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