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Neglia honored as area's top female athlete

Douglas Fritz • Updated May 31, 2018 at 8:28 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 on Friday she was honored by being chosen as the Johnson City Press/Kingsport Times News Female Athlete of the Year for Northeast Tennessee.

The sophomore cross country and track standout has a lot of qualities that make her hard to beat, said her coach, Bob Bingham.

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

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

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

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

But this year she stepped it up a notch. She captured her second straight cross country state title, winning the Large Class 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, said Bingham.

“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,” said Bingham. “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,” said Bingham.

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,” said Bingham.

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