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D-B's Sasha Neglia NET's top female athlete

Douglas Fritz • May 31, 2018 at 10:08 PM

Competitors usually have one view of Dobyns-Bennett’s Sasha Neglia: the back of her jersey.

After just two years in high school, Neglia has established herself as a dominant force on the state level. And this week she was honored as the Johnson City Press/Kingsport Times News Female Athlete of the Year for Northeast Tennessee.

The cross country and track standout, who just completed her sophomore season, has many qualities that make her hard to beat, said D-B coach Bob Bingham.

“She’s actually very talented,” Bingham said. “She’s driven, and she’s mentally tough.”

There’s an edge that helps push Neglia over the top.

“She’s super, super competitive,” Bingham said.

Neglia burst onto the scene as a freshman, winning the TSSAA Class AAA cross country championship.

But this year she stepped it up a notch. She captured her second straight cross country state title, winning the Large Schools division with a time of 18:15.71. Neglia was chosen as the Gatorade Tennessee Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Then she capped off the track season with another gold, winning the 1,600-meter run. She earned a state runner-up finish in the 3,200.

All of the titles are a product of effort, Bingham noted.

“Nobody is going to outwork her,” he said. “She practices hard. You set up what you want her to accomplish, and that’s what she does.”

Running, a year-round event for Neglia, isn’t the only thing she does well. She also spends a lot of time in the swimming pool.

“She’s a really good swimmer,” Bingham said. “When there is a big running event, she cuts back on swimming. But she trains hard and takes care of her body. She does the little things, sleeping and eating right and stuff like that.”

Bingham said he saw a lot of potential in Neglia before she arrived at Dobyns-Bennett. She was a state champion in middle school, but that doesn’t always transfer over to high school. Still, Bingham said there was something special about Neglia, who has good foot speed for a distance runner.

“I saw her and I could tell, she just got it,” he said.

So what’s next for Neglia? More state titles are likely, and progress beyond the state level is probably in the cards as well. Neglia was second in the Southeast Regional last fall with a time of 17:27.10, and she placed 24th in the Nike National Cross Country meet.

On June 15-17, Neglia will compete in the New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet in Greensboro, N.C.

“She’s hungry for more success,” Bingham said.

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