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Nationally ranked Nathan Neil of Bozeman now looks to carry momentum into state meet

Posted at 2:07 PM, May 20, 2024

BOZEMAN — When Bozeman High standout Nathan Neil gets set to take the track, most spectators at the meet crowd around it to watch him race.

"We all know who we're here to see," one spectator said as Neil warmed up for the 1,600 meters at the Eastern AA divisional track and field meet on Saturday, referring to the 2023 Montana Gatorade cross country runner of the year.

He captured a first-place finish in that race with a stellar time of 4:06.71, and on Friday he won the 800 meters with a time of 1:56.96 in windy and stormy conditions.

But, his dominance isn't just seen in the state of Montana; the entire country has now taken notice of his performances at national meets.

At the beginning of April in California, he placed second overall at the Arcadia National in the 3,200 meters with a personal best time of 8:35.32.

And at the end of April, he ran the second-fastest mile in the country this year at the Nike/Jesuit Twilight Relays in Oregon with a time of 4:01.35.

"You don’t get that race ever again," Neil said of his time competing at Arcadia. "Nike Outdoor and Brooks PR will be similar to that. But still, you won’t get the complete field that you had at Arcadia anywhere else. So, it’s just really fun to race all the top guys in the nation. And it was awesome, I was able to compete well and run a good race when it mattered, so that’s always a big achievement as well."

Neil takes pride in continuing to put Montana runners on the map at a national level. He leads a group of his teammates that are all going to run at the next level.

"Montana is not a slow state," he said. "We have really good runners in all events. It’s showing, like Nash (Coley of Bozeman Gallatin) is competing on the national level. A couple guys who are sprinters are doing well on the national level. We’ve had such a good season in cross and track the past couple years that all four of our senior (Bozeman High) boys are going to run at the Division I or Division II college."

Nathan Neil
Nathan Neil and teammates congratulate each other after running the 1,600 meters on at at the Eastern AA meet on Sat. May 18, 2024 at the Bozeman Gallatin track and field complex.

Neil is also setting an example for younger athletes in Bozeman — and, really, overall in the state of Montana — to want to follow in his footsteps and compete in cross country and track for their high schools when they grow up.

"We have such a good team dynamic, and we’re all working really hard and running really well that it’s just such a fun (experience), it’s way more fun when you have guys that can do that," he said. "And it’s made it so much fun that people actually want to do it for the next four years of their life, which is really cool to me."

Nathan Neil 2
Nathan Neil competes in the 1,600 meters on at the Eastern AA meet on Sat. May 18, 2024 at the Bozeman Gallatin track and field complex.

He's now turned his focus to the state meet in Great Falls this weekend.

"I want to run a couple seconds faster in the mile, I think it’s possible," Neil explained. "I think a bigger crowd is going to help. And also the two-mile, yeah, I really want to run fast in the two-mile. I’m hoping the wind will stay down. Looks like it might be rainy, but that’s fine. As long as the wind is down, it’s going to be a fast meet."

He has a handful of national meets to compete in after state before he heads to the University of Washington in August to continue his academic and running career.