McNeal playing big role for Warriors’ track and field after transferring

FINISH LINE: Chippewa Hills junior Jennifer McNeal (left) lunges toward the finish line to place first in the 4x200-meter relay at the Division 2 track and field state final Saturday at Zeeland East High School. (Pioneer photo/Ryan Zuke)

FINISH LINE: Chippewa Hills junior Jennifer McNeal (left) lunges toward the finish line to place first in the 4×200-meter relay at the Division 2 track and field state final Saturday at Zeeland East High School. (Pioneer photo/Ryan Zuke)

ZEELAND — Warriors’ junior Jennifer McNeal had a major decision to make after her freshman year at Mount Pleasant High School.

Her and her parents we’re going to move to either Beal City or Remus, and she had to decide between the two schools.

After winning a Division 2 track and field state title in the 4×200-meter relay and placing fourth in the 400 for Chippewa Hills on Saturday, she felt even more comfortable with her choice.

“At first I didn’t want to come to Chippewa Hills, but that was the best thing that has ever happened to me,” McNeal said. “I love my team.”

McNeal played a key role in helping the Warriors win a state title last season, earning all-state in three events.

She had another big day on Saturday, running the last leg of the 4×200-meter relay team which placed first at 1 minute, 43.61 seconds. She also placed fourth in the 400 (58.40).

“I was about to cry, and I don’t cry much,” McNeal said after winning the 4×200 relay. “Our whole team believed we were going to win it, and we ended up getting it, which was really great.”

McNeal just missed placing in the high jump, and she also competed in the 4×400 relay. But with arthritis in her wrists, hips and both knees, compounded with steady rain and rapidly dropping temperatures, she said she didn’t feel her best in the 4×400 relay  — the last event of the meet. You will never hear her use it as an excuse, however.

“She’s a gamer,” Chippewa Hills coach Sally Schafer said. “She’s a true anchor. If it’s on the line, I would put my money on her. That’s just who she is. She’s a tough, tough kid.”

McNeal called her season a success, especially considering she missed cross country season because of a dislocated hip.

“Track is my favorite sport,” she said. “I only run cross country to get ready for track, and I couldn’t do that this year, so I really had to work up to where I am this year.”

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Posted by Ryan Zuke

Ryan is the sports editor for the Big Rapids Pioneer, covering local prep sports and Ferris State athletics. He can be contacted at (231) 592-8363 or rzuke@pioneergroup.com.

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