Lancers’ Neylon ready for challenge in the 100
As the temperature on Thursday climbed well into the 90s with the high humidity as the District 4 track championships began at Williamsport, Loyalsock’s Charlotte Neylon sort of enjoyed it. The Lancer runner remembered how rainy and wet last year’s district meet was, and she definitely remembered how bad the weather was last week at the PHAC meet in Sunbury. So a hot day wasn’t all that bad for the first day of districts.
But while she may have enjoyed that weather, her focus shifted from the heat to her physical heat in the 100 preliminary for Class AA girls.
And after she advanced from the preliminaries into the semifinals, Neylon’s mind was focused on one thing and that was going all out in the semifinal race. That’s what Neylon told her track coach as the race approached because she wanted to be lined up next to Athens’ Breana Gambrell today.
After running 12.59 in the 100, Neylon got her wish. When Neylon goes to get into the starting blocks of the 100 this morning, she’ll look over and see Gambrell right next to her.
“Breana Gambrell is an amazing track athlete and to run against her is even more exciting. I told my coach before going into the semis ‘I’m going all out in the semis so I can be right next to Gambrell in the finals,'” Neylon said. “That’s what I did in the semis and now I am going into (today) with a spot right next to her.”
That type of mindset and motivation helps push Neylon. She failed to get to the state meet last year, placing fifth in the 100 and seventh in the 200. But she’s eyeing a higher spot on the podium today.
“Everyone wants it a little bit more at districts and I definitely learned that last year. You must come into districts with the right mindset. You need to want it more than anyone you are running against,” Neylon said. “Although I learned that the hard way last year, I knew that for Thursday and Saturday, I needed to come ready. I had a really rough districts day last year and I think that is what’s motivating me most to want to get that gold or silver to go on to states.”
Neylon ran the second-fastest time in the semifinals on Thursday, behind only Gambrell’s 12.11, a new district record. It’s an indicator that this morning’s race may be close once they take off from the starting blocks.
Gambrell is one of the fastest runners in the state, having the top time in the 100 as of last weekend with an 11.96 this year. Neylon has the 10th best time in Class AA at 12.52. Gambrell and Neylon aren’t too far apart in the state’s top 200 times either, at sixth and 11th, respectively.
“Running against girls like Gambrell definitely motivates me to run my best. Gambrell is the fastest girl I’ve ran against all year and each time I’ve run against her I hit the times I love to see,” Neylon said. “Running against her pushes me to reach that 12.7 or under that I need for states.”
Neylon has been motivated since districts last year as she said, and continued to work and train to improve and it paid off. She’s shaved about 0.7 seconds off her time in the 100 from last year and in the 200, her area best this season is a full second faster than what she ran in 2016 at the district meet.
That’s a testament to her practices all year and speed training session during basketball to help prepare her for track.
“I have seen tremendous progress in the times that I never knew I could hit,” Neylon said.
Eleven races and relays are set for today, as only the 3,200 run on Thursday was for a medal.
In the 800, Lewisburg’s Olivia Martin has the top overall seeded time of 2:21.33 in an event featuring 28 district runners. Hughesville’s Autumn Avery has the second-best seeded time at 2:21.60.
After winning a district gold medal in the 3,200 race on Thursday, Loyalsock’s Isabel Sagar will look to make it 2 for 2 as she’s seeded second in the 1,600 field with a time of 5:21.33, behind only Mount Carmel’s Maci Mazzatesta (5:11.81).
In the 400 relay, Neylon and Loyalsock teammates Erin Machmer, Hailey Zurich and Maddie Fox have the second-best seeded time of 50.71, only behind Athens (49.34).
Lewisburg is looking to make it five consecutive district medals in the 3,200 relay as the team of Emma Bailey, Selena Permyashkin, Sarah Reif and Olivia Martin have the top-seeded time at 9:34.70. Bailey was on last year’s district winning team and Martin is looking for her third consecutive district medal in the event.