This originally appeared in the May 19, 2010 edition of the Press.

Sheffield Lake/Sheffield Village

If you told Brookside High School junior track athlete Courtney Neigh she would win a Patriot Athletic Conference championship in the 3,200 meter run at the start of the season, she probably would have laughed.

After all, Neigh had never run the two-mile event prior to the third meet of the season, usually competing in the 1,600, 800 and occasionally the 4×400 relay.

“In the beginning of the season I didn’t even run the two-mile, and then my coaches convinced me to,” Neigh said. “I enjoyed it, and it turned out I was pretty good at it.”

Indeed she was. Neigh’s first time racing in the 3,200 was in a tri-meet against Keystone and Clearview on April 13. Neigh ended up winning

the race with a personal best time of 13:36. Last Friday she won the PAC title with a time of 13:42.43 at Lutheran West.

“In the beginning I was pretty nervous because I saw the times the other girls had this season,” Neigh admitted. “I felt I was going to win, but the competition was pretty strong. I was leading at the beginning and kept the pace all the way. I didn’t want to fall behind at all. The girl who was behind me was pushing me the whole race and I just wanted to make sure I kept ahead of her the whole time.”

Neigh also took second in the 1,600 with a time of 6:05.14, just behind Buckeye’s Summer Setliff (6:01.12).

“My best time in the 1,600 this year was 6:13, and in the PAC I ran a 6:05, so I felt good I improved by that much.”

Neigh also helped the Lady Cardinals’ 4×800 relay team, which also featured Hallie Brillhart, Emily Ackerman and Becky Woods, to a fourth-place finish with a time of 11:52.90. Neigh’s efforts for the day helped the Lady Cardinals finish seventh out of 10 schools.

Brookside head coach Scott Graham had plenty of praises for Neigh’s performance.

“Courtney is one of the best distance runners that we have had at Brookside since I have been at the school for the last eight years,” he said. “She achieved her PR (personal record) in the one mile and did really well in running the two mile. She became the first Brookside girl, team or individual, to win a Patriot Athletic Conference title. She definitely has the ability to win conference again next year in the mile, two mile and the 800 meters.”

Neigh said thinking about her achievement sunk in over the weekend.

“It actually feels pretty amazing,” she said. “I didn’t think about it at first. After a few days I realized that I made history for the school. It feels pretty good.”

Jessica Sarvas set a PR in shot put (31-2), to finish fourth place. Teammate Casey Pawloski took sixth (30-4).

For the Brookside boys, Keyonte Francis tied his PR in the high jump (5-8). Robert Taw set a PR in discus (134-8). Graham believes both athletes have a great chance at qualifying for regionals. The Brookside boys finished eighth out of 10 teams at the PAC Championship.

“Keystone and Buckeye did an amazing job,” Graham said about the PAC’s top two teams. “Those are two programs that we look at wanting to become. We are getting better every year. We scored the most points we have ever scored in the PAC meet.”

With districts starting this week, Graham said the team is looking to continue the improvement they started at the PAC Championships.

“We have several people that have a good chance of doing well at districts, including Zach Bradley in the two mile, Courtney Neigh in distance, Keyonte Francis in high jump, Robert Taw in discus and Kayla Chrosniak in the 400.

“The kids are working hard and they want to get better, and they are getting better.”

As for Neigh, she said she is hoping to set another PR in the two mile.

“There is going to be good competition, so I’m definitely going to be pushing pretty hard.”

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