But that’s understandable, since he’s only in the fifth grade.
The 10-year-old was one of a small group of Cherokee County athletes who qualified for the USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships, which were held last week in Humble, Texas, just outside of Houston.
MacNeill qualified for the national championships in both the high jump and long jump, but it was in the former that he won gold. Clearing a mark of 4 feet, 5 inches, he outjumped the other 47 competitors in the field.
MacNeill, who stands 5-foot-3, competes in the 9-10 age division, so he was older than many of the other athletes in the field. Still, he felt like he was at a disadvantage because it was his first time competing in a meet that large.
“I’d never done anything that big before,” MacNeill said.
During the competition, there were between 6,000 and 7,000 fans in the stands cheering on the competitors.
At the national meet, the field was split into two groups, and the athletes took turns attempting to clear specific marks. Each athlete could attempt a jump three times before they were eliminated. The last jumper standing — in this case, MacNeill — was the winner.
“There was a starting height and you have three chances to clear the bar. If you don’t, you are out,” MacNeill said. “If you get it, you keep going. They move it up 2 inches each time.”
The bar was set at six different heights, and MacNeill admits he needed multiple attempts to clean the final couple. His first miss came at 4-3.
“I knew that I could jump higher than that,” he said.
MacNeill went on to clear that mark and one higher distance before the competition was over.
In the long jump, MacNeill placed 25th and fell nearly a foot short of his qualifying mark of 13-10. His father, Randy MacNeill, attributed the substandard showing to leg fatigue.
“The first day we got there, the next morning, he had high jump, and I think that helped him a lot,” Randy McNeill said. “Then, he waited three days to do long jump. He didn’t practice in between, because we couldn’t use the fields. You can’t complain, because everyone was in the same boat, but his legs looked dead and he was tired. He tried his best.”
Rawson MacNeill is a student at Macedonia Elementary, where he will resume classes Monday. He’s also preparing for the upcoming football season.
With all of the track and field qualifiers he competed in, MacNeill’s summer break was shorted to about a week. Still, he plans to make the most of it as any kid would.
“(Today), I’m going to Six Flags,” he said.
Other than that, MacNeill plans to admire his gold medal a bit more. After all, not everyone gets to be a national champion.
“I’d thought about being a national champion, but I never thought I’d be able to do it,” he said.