North Texas Daily

Victor Neiva looks to build on record-setting campaign

Victor Neiva looks to build on record-setting campaign

Victor Neiva looks to build on record-setting campaign
September 15
02:06 2022

Junior runner Victor Neiva did not run cross country until his junior year at Central High School.

He was on the  soccer team when his head coach offered the team a chance to compete in cross country.

“Nobody raised their hand and I was the one that was like ‘I’ll do it,’” Neiva said. “Next day at six in the morning I got there, and then, a week from there, I ran the race and I won. I never looked back from there.”

Neiva began his record-setting 2021 season against Texas A&M University. The Mean Green edged out the Aggies by one point to place first at the meet. 

“That’s when I started to realize what I could bring to the team and that they really needed my help,” Neiva said. “That was when I had a mindset switch that said ‘If I’m going to do this, I’m going to see it all the way through.’”

Neiva went on to place third in the 5,000 meters at the 2022 indoor championships, earning him a spot on the Conference USA first team. Neiva continued to place high in the outdoor season, winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase versus the University of Texas-Arlington and at the Baylor invitational. 

“It was definitely something I didn’t picture myself doing at a high level,” Neiva said. “Thankfully, with North Texas and some other people who have guided me, I’m able to love it and do it competitively. It’s really a blessing.”

Neiva won the 5,000 meters at the North Texas Classic the week after the Baylor Invitational. Five days later at the 62nd Annual Mt. San Antonio College Relays, Neiva completed his 2022 season by setting a school record in the 10,000 meters with a time of 29:19.34. 

“That whole week was almost like a surreal experience, not just as a runner but as an athlete in general,” junior distance runner Luke Canon said. “We’re all just screaming our heads off telling him, ‘Go get that record’, stuff like that.”

North Texas hired cross country coach Erik Stevens on Aug. 9. Though practice started on Aug. 16, Stevens remembers Neiva stopping by his office the day before to talk about the junior’s role on the team. 

“He came to me when we first met and said,  ‘I want to step up,’” Stevens said, “‘I want to be in that role, I want to take leadership, I want to be an example. I want to do it because I know I have to step up and have to make it happen.’”

Stevens said Neiva “naturally gravitates” toward a leadership role. In practice, Neiva sets the tone for the rest of the team.

“He’s the one leading drills, he’s the one getting mobilities going at the end of practice, he’s the one making sure that everybody’s staying on time,” Stevens said. “I didn’t have to ask him — I didn’t have to say anything about it. He wanted to do it and we’re not going to look back.”

In the midst of a coaching change and roster overhaul, Neiva and the Mean Green look to build on last year’s success at the Texas A&M invitational on Sept. 16.

“I definitely want to get a few more records,” Neiva said. “I’m really close to that 5K indoor record so I think I’ll have to snatch that one. [In] outdoor, I want some more records too but always with the team — always trying to help each other out because we can do some damage as a team for sure.”

Image Credit Sam Roberts/Freeze Frame

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James Carroll

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