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Stonewall Jackson’s Neff ready for track state championships

Destiny Neff runs in the 100-meter dash last week during the Region 1B Track and Field meet at Quicksburg. Neff will perform in five events at this weekend's Class 1 Track and Field Stat Championships at East Rockingham. Rich Cooley/Daily

QUICKSBURG – Destiny Neff has plenty of experience and this weekend she’s hoping it will pay off in a big way for her.

The Stonewall Jackson senior is headed to the Class 1 Track and Field State Championships today at East Rockingham High School for the third straight year and will participate in five events. Having been to the state meet the last two years she said she feels different this year.

“It makes me feel better for the years coming,” Neff said of her experience. “Like this year I feel so much better going into states. I don’t feel as nervous as I was before.”

She said last year’s state meet was a big hurdle for her to overcome. She was entered in three events and qualified for the finals in the 200-meter dash. As soon as she got to the starting line nerves got the best of her.

“I was really nervous like before I got in my block I could tell that I was feeling like I was going to throw up or something,” Neff said. “I was so anxious and my nerves really got to me. But I pushed through and passed a couple girls that were pretty close with me before, and I think I ran a pretty good race that day.”

Neff finished sixth in the race to earn a medal and make all-state in her favorite event. She said that gave her a lot of confidence coming into this season.

“It was a really great feeling of accomplishment,” Neff said. “It made me feel pretty good about myself. All these years I’ve been trying to get there and I couldn’t make it and then I finally did. When I finally actually placed and I got a medal it was pretty nice.”

As a sophomore, Neff said that she only qualified for the state meet in the 200 and she didn’t make the finals. However, she said that experience helped her and last year she improved.

One big difference for Neff this weekend will be the number of events she will be performing in. She qualified for the state meet in the 200, 100, long jump, triple jump and she is part of the 4×100 relay team.

She said she knows doing so many events will make things tougher for her and she will be very busy going from event to event.

“It definitely puts a lot of pressure on me, because even in the regular invitationals there’s a lot of running back and forth,” Neff said. “So I know in states, I feel, there’s probably going to be a lot of that as well because they try to get it done quick. It’s definitely going to put a lot of pressure on me, but I just got to try to stay focused and push through.”

Neff said that she enjoys working with her teammates in the 4×100 relay. Neff, along with Desirae Campbell, Autumn Deutsch, and Autumn Smith won the Region 1B title in a time of 54.79.

“I love my four-by-one team,” Neff said. “We’re a really strong group of girls and we really push each other. And we have high spirits because usually, you don’t really see that from some schools. Some of them they always have drama, but our team is just drama free and I love it.”

Neff said she does the jumping events mainly to help the team out, but the sprints, especially the 200-meter dash, have always been her favorite events.

Stonewall Jackson coach Dick Krol said that Neff could be even better in the sprints if the Generals didn’t need her to do so many events. Neff is planning to run on Bridgewater College’s track and field team next year, and Krol said she will perform even better at the college level.

“I told her this and I honestly believe it, next year when she gets to Bridgewater they’re going to have some good coaches there that are going to be able to pick up on her technique and work with her,” Krol said. “And she’s going to blossom because she’s got the talent.”

Neff said she’s excited to run on Bridgewater’s track team, but first, she wants to end her high school career on a good note.

“I’m hoping that I can place (top-eight) in at least all of my running events, because I know there’s going to be a lot of competition,” she said. “But as long as I can stay relaxed – that’s my main problem – but as long as I can do that I feel like I have a good chance of placing.”

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