Patience Paid Off For Michelle Neece

Michelle Neece, Class of 2019 - Pipestone Area High School

What are all your personal records? What State Meet competitions have you been in, and what were your results?

My PR's are 14.63 in the 100H, 12.63 in the 100m open and 17'7.25" for long jump. I have qualified for the State Meet every year since 8th grade, placing 9th in 100H and our relay placing 8th in the 4x100 that year. My freshman year, our relay placed 4th in the 4x200 and I missed out on an individual medal, placing 12th in 100H. During my sophomore season, I qualified for State in 4 events and missed out on a medal in every one, placing 11th in 100H, 11th in long jump, 14th in the 4x100 and getting disqualified in the 4x200. As a junior, I used the previous year as a push to do better and placed 4th in the 100, 11th in long jump, 6th in the 4x100 and won the 100H race.

How did you first get involved in track, and what other sports have you done?

I've been on my feet since I was 8 months old and I've always loved running, so naturally track was the first sport I wanted to try as a 7th grader. Even though my body is built to sprint, I was a cross country runner from 8th grade until senior year when I decided to help as a manager. I participated in basketball 4th grade through freshman year before trying gymnastics my sophomore year. After a year of gymnastics, a broken toe and a lot of bruises, I realized that I would hurt myself if I kept on so I decided instead to get in the weight room during the winter to improve my performance during the track season.

Tell me what it was like to win the State Championship in the 100m hurdles last spring.

In short, it was amazing. Crossing the finish line and knowing that my hard work had finally paid off was one of the best feelings ever. I'll admit that I let out a few tears when I hugged my hurdling coach, Todd Texley, after receiving my medals. The feeling of winning a State Championship is one I'll never forget.

Tell me about a standout non-competition-related memory from your athletics career.

Many funny things have happened during practice over the years. Just last month, Zoe Velde and I were working on accelerating and as we were slowing down, she tripped on the tip of her shoe and fell. Hard. Since she didn't get seriously hurt, this was really funny. When she hit the floor, it sounded like the clop of a horse's hooves. I can still hear the sound now.

Who are some people that have been most helpful to you in your athletic career and how have they helped you?

Todd Texley, my hurdling coach, has been a godsend. Without him, I'm not even sure I would be a hurdler. He pulled me aside my 3rd day of practice as a 7th grader and asked me if I'd like to try hurdling, and convinced me that I could do it. He believes in me more than anyone else, and he's always been very vocal about his confidence in me. He's even convinced me to believe in myself, something I'm very grateful for. Tex has made me the person and athlete I am today. Erin Gordon (cross country coach) and Bryon Hulstein (4th and 5th grade basketball coach) have also been very helpful in my development as an athlete by shaping me into a hard worker.

What is a challenge you have had to face as an athlete? How did you overcome it (or how are you continuing to overcome it?)

Having asthma has definitely challenging, especially during the time I was doing cross country. I have a pulmonologist that I visit in Sioux Falls every 3 months and he's been a great help, giving me different breathing techniques and inhalers to try to see if anything works. I still have breathing problems at times, but they have gotten much better over the years. It also helps that the longest event I run is 200 meters.

What are your main goals for this track season?

I would like to PR in every event and hopefully break some school records in the process. I'm hoping to medal in long jump at state after coming home empty handed for the past 2 years, and I'd like to feel the excitement of being a state champ again. The state meet record for the 100m H is 14.8, so I'm hoping I'll run a good time at state, but I have to get there first.

Tell me about your recruitment process and how you came around to choosing Augustana.

I've always been pretty interested in Augustana, and I'm really glad that they were interested in me too. The athletics at Augustana drew me in, but the academics solidified my decision. The school has a nice balance between the two. Coach Binstock is a really great guy and really cares about his athletes, which makes my decision to be a college athlete seem not so scary. Almost everything that Augie has to offer seems to be exactly what I'm looking for, so it was a no-brainer.

What advice would you give to younger athletes, or athletes just starting out in track?

Learn from your mistakes. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn something, so don't get mad at yourself for messing up.

Tell me one bizarre fact about yourself.

My dad and I ran into Kobe Bryant at Disneyland when I was 6 years old.