Boys Track: Glenbrook North’s Neal preparing for next step
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:07AM
During the Loyola Sectional, the primary goal for the boys track athletes on hand was to make State by either finishing among the top two in an event or eclipsing the state’s automatic qualifying time.
Glenbrook North senior David Neal knew he wasn’t likely to accomplish either in his lone event, the 1600-meter run. His goal throughout the season was to drop his time in the distance event down to the 4:30 range.
“I was told that if I want to run in college, I’d have to be around a 4:30,” said Neal, who will study biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University (Md.) upon graduation. “So that was what I was going for the whole season. I was trying to make that happen.”
Neal dropped his personal-best by seven seconds at the Loyola Sectional, finishing the 1600 in 4:33.69. He placed 12th, almost a full 11 seconds from qualifying for State. Yet Neal believes his race time proves he can compete with Johns Hopkins’ current crop of distance runners.
“They run the 1500, and a bunch of them are around 4:20 — that’s about 4:30 to 4:35 in the 1600,” Neal said. “I’m right in that range then — to run (in college) would just be an added bonus for me.”
Neal likely will continue his email correspondence with Johns Hopkins’ track coaches. Regardless of whether he lands a spot on his college’s track team, the progress Neal made from indoor track season to the Spartans’ final meet of the outdoor season this year was something first-year Glenbrook North coach Scott Lasky was particularly proud of.
“Actually, indoors, (Neal) was barely breaking five (minutes), if he was breaking five,” Lasky said. “Now he’s down to 4:33, so that’s huge when you’re that fast at that distance.”
Neal’s personal improvement over the course of the outdoor season is something Lasky has demanded from his team throughout the campaign.
Glenbrook North didn’t have any top-five finishes at the Loyola Sectional, yet Lasky altered his expectations in order to measure the team’s success by personal-bests rather than points scored.
“Like I’ve been saying all season, ‘Everyone’s PR-ing,’ ” Lasky said. “Our (1600 runner, Neal) dropped seven seconds; he got down to a 4:33. Our long jumper, (Mike) Bolotnikov, he got up to 20-4.5. Our triple jumper (Adam Goldsher) got a foot and a half farther than normal. Our (800 relay) — without our two fastest kids — PR’d for the season by two seconds. It’s great to see. It’s great being at a meet of this caliber. It was great to see our guys competing hard and really solidifying their, quote-unquote, legacy at GBN.”
As Lasky shifted the Spartans’ focus to achieving personal-bests in the team’s last meet of the season, Neal sensed — contrary to years past — that team members were there for support, and to cheer him on during races.
“We’re not exactly the strongest team there is,” Neal said. “But this year was a lot more team unity. Everybody was up cheering for everybody during the races; there was a lot more focus on the team than individually PR-ing. It’s good to know that I’m helping a team that’s rebuilding itself into something better.”