Photo by Joe Chitwood
Seated from left: Monte McNeil Sr., Monte “MJ' McNeil, Cammie McNeil. Back row Hershey Coach Ryan Smith and Doane Coach Ed Fye
Hershey senior Monte McNeil accepted a track scholarship to Doane University Wednesday, signing a letter of intent in the Hershey High gymnasium.McNeil has participated in track and football since junior high.
“I am not sure which sport I like the best but I know that track gives me the best opportunity for an education,” McNeil said.
His choice of Doane came after Dan Huebner asked him if he had ever considered going there.
“I told him no," McNeil said. "Dan knows head coach Ed Fye very well so he contacted them, told him about me and they started recruiting me.”
Fye said he was happy McNeil chose the Doane program.
“We looked at his junior year times and saw they are getting lower. He is a good kid with good character and we are excited to have him,” he said.
“When I really started doing serious searching for a school I made a visit to them and they talked with me about track and to learn more about me,” McNeil said.
McNeil received offers from several other schools but after his visit he knew Doane was the place for him.
“I am really excited. It is a perfect fit,” he said. “Especially on the academic side, they have the major I want.”
McNeil holds the school record in the 800 as well as being on the record holding 4x800 relay. Fye said he expects McNeil to continue to run distance.
“He will probably be middle distance. In college, in the indoors, you have the 400-600-800 and 1,000 meter runs. As his endurance gets better he can move up and if his speed improves we can move him down.” “And we could always leave him where he is and run the 4x800,” Fye said. “Our relay was an All-American team for us this year and we will lose one runner from that so hopefully we can replace him with Monte.”
“We’ll see what happens,” McNeil said. “Obviously, I want to compete right away but I know I will have to earn my spot by working hard. It won’t be handed to me. I want to go where Coach Fye wants me and will do whatever he wants me to do.”
McNeil was quick to credit those that helped him to reach his full potential during high school.
“Definitely my teammates –those guys out their pushing me every day to get better,” he said. “And my coaches and parents; I have just had a lot of positive influences on my life, people that told me I could do it and never tried to hold me back but just let me do my thing.”
He said he would be negligent if he didn’t mention one competitor, St. Pat’s 800 runner Chase Ochs, that has pushed him to improve. The two have ran against each other since junior high school.
“He has definitely made me the athlete I am today. As much as people hype up the competition between us, on a down to earth level he is a pretty cool guy,” McNeil said.
McNeil said he has one more goal to accomplish before the end of track season.
“I want to get my 800 time down to under two minutes," he said. "Other athletes in the area are getting there and I think it’s about time for me to do it.”
He said his most memorable moments came at the 2016 State Track Meet in Omaha.
“Going down there to Burke High School and competing with the best of the best made some truly unforgettable memories,” he said. “Just seeing the whole stadium packed with people who come to watch you perform was great fun.”
Hershey Coach Ryan Smith coached him in both sports throughout high school and said his scholarship “is awesome and well deserved.”
“It is something Monte has talked about throughout his high school career and I think Doane is getting a good one,” he said.
McNeil said he will major in computer engineering and pursue a career in computer technology.
“With that degree, you can pretty much go to work for Google, Microsoft, Apple or many of the other tech companies,” he said.
He is the son of Monte and Cammie McNeil of North Platte.