Winning smiles: Lady Eagles win final race

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, April 12, 2014
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With 200 meters to go, Nicole Neighbors still found herself a few meters behind Sanger’s Bre Henderson on the anchor leg of the 4×400 Thursday night.

“I started doubting myself but I kept thinking of my teammates,” Neighbors said.

Those thoughts of teammates Bailey Berry, Haley Dennard and Keauna Smith pushed Neighbors down the track, until she caught the 9-3A 400 and 200 champion with 20 meters to go. At the tape, Neighbors stepped in front of Henderson to give Decatur the 4×400 victory in 4:15.24. Sanger and Henderson finished in 4:15.42.

Plenty to Smile About

PLENTY TO SMILE ABOUT – Decatur’s Nicole Neighbors celebrates one of her three gold medals Thursday at the District 9-3A meet in Sanger. Neighbors won the 100 and 300 hurdles and the 4×400 relay. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I just wanted to do it, and my legs kept going faster. I almost went too late,” said Neighbors, who claimed four medals at the meet, including three golds. She earned the 9-3A high-point girls trophy.

The 4×400 victory left Decatur two points short of Sanger in the race for 9-3A team trophy. Sanger took the title with 193 points. Decatur finished with 191.

“Going in I said it was going to be a dual meet and that’s what happened,” said Decatur coach David Park. “We got beat by two points. We competed. There were a couple of events that we would have liked back but Clint [Davidson, the Sanger coach] probably would want back a few also. It was a good meet. We qualified people in every event and will be taking a big contingent to area.”

The Class 3A 9/10 Area meet will be Thursday in Argyle.

In the race of the night, Berry, the 9-3A high jump champion, got the Lady Eagles off to a solid start before passing the baton to Dennard, the 9-3A 800 champion. She ran a 61-second lap to give the Lady Eagles a 15-meter lead before making the pass to Smith.

“That’s the best I’ve run all year,” Dennard said.

Neighbors agreed.

“Haley did a great job. That’s why she’s our second leg. She knows how to position herself on the track.”

Smith kept Decatur in front until her final 100 meters. Sanger took the lead and gave the baton to Henderson, who had run a 59.14 to win the 400 and 26.49 to win the 200 earlier in the evening.

After rounding the first curve, she was several meters in front of Neighbors. But Park was still confident Neighbors would make a run at her.

“With 300 to go and with Nicole in her hip pocket, I felt good,” Park said.

Neighbors inched closer and closer to Henderson before edging ahead at the finish.

“It’s exciting. She knows how to put on a good race,” Dennard said about Neighbors. “I knew she could do it. She knows how far to let them ahead.”

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