FEATURE: Dave Neely Was One of the Best High Jumpers Ever at MSU

Sep 4, 2019

Credit MSU Athletics

Nearly 50 years after he competed, Dave Neely is still among rare company in the history of the Morehead State track and field program.

An accomplished high jumper, Neely is now one of the newest members of the Morehead State Athletic Hall of Fame and the first-ever field-only athlete be inducted.

Neely will be inducted, along with two other Athletic Hall of Fame members, on the night of Oct. 18 at the University's banquet also honoring Alumni Hall of Fame members and Founder's Award for University Service. All those will also be honored at the Homecoming football game at 2 p.m. ET on Oct. 19.

Neely burst onto the scene as a freshman in 1969, setting the school record in the high jump at 6-foot-8. He later went on to break his own record as a senior in 1972, adding an inch to that school standard. It took several years before his record was narrowly clipped at 6-foot-10.

"I was honored to represent Morehead State at the various track and field meets and at the (1969) NCAA Championships and the United States Track and Field Federation Championships," he said.

Neely still remembers the NCAA Championships like it was just yesterday.

"That was probably the single-greatest thrill of my time at Morehead State was going to the NCAA Championships in June in Knoxville, Tennessee," he said. "That was just after the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, so we had quite a few athletes there who had competed in the Olympics, and what an honor to be able to compete against them."

One athlete Neely fondly remembers jumping against was a man by the name if Dick Fosbury. Anyone familiar with the high jumping scene is aware of Fosbury's revolutionary style that still is utilized today - jumping backwards over the bar instead of forward.

"Part of the reason no one did it Fosbury's way before that was the old pits were primarily filled with sand and sawdust - well, you didn't jump and land on your back in sand and sawdust!" he commented.

Despite a coaching change after his freshman season and no full-time coaching leader, Neely went on to be named All-Ohio Valley Conference three times in his career.

"We had a change after my freshman year after being coached by the great Marshall Banks," he said. "Although there wasn't as much emphasis on coaching, we had a great group. If you look at the track and field record book, several of the records were set by guys from that time frame.

"It was kind of like a family, just like Morehead State has always been and still is today. I still have friendships and often see those who shared my experience at Morehead State, and I have been out for 47 years now."

Neely earned his Bachelor's Degree (with distinction) in Business Administration in 1972. He was awarded the Wall Street Journal Award for the outstanding senior in his degree program as a senior.

Following his time at Morehead State, Neely progressed through the trucking industry and eventually retired in 2017 after a seven-year stint as President of Gateway Distribution, a trucking and distribution company with more than 100 employees and based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

"Morehead State fully prepared me, not only from a scholastic standpoint but a business standpoint, but also how to get along with people. We had to communicate with each other and build friendships. And I am very proud to still have those friendships."