Brett Neely, a member of the Kansas State University track and field team, is the Big 12 Scholar/Athlete of the year in Track and Field. He is the first male to win this honor. He is also working towards the 2020 Olympics.

With the 2020 Olympics just two years away, athletes from around the world are preparing themselves to make their country’s teams and become Olympic athletes.

For Brett Neely, the son of Greensburg's Kurt Neely, the road to the Olympics ran through the Kansas State University Track and Field team where he throws shot put and discus. He also happens to be very good in the classroom and has recently been honored for his achievements there as well.

Neely, a mechanical engineering major at K- State, was recently named the Big 12 Scholar/Athlete of the Year in Track and Field. He is the first male at KSU to win this award and has a GPA of 3.77.

“My GPA was a helping factor,” Neely said.

Coaches from around the conference vote to determine who receives the award. The KSU Track and Field Coach is Cliff Rovelto.

As for his skills with the shot put, Neely reached the college nationals three years in a row. In his sophomore and junior years, he received All American Honorable Mention. As a freshman, he placed eighth and was First Team All American.

With his success, Neely is looking at the 2020 Olympics and wants to be on that team.

“That is my goal, to train and train and qualify to go to trials,” Neely said. “It would be a dream to qualify.”

Making it to the Olympic trails will be a serious challenge. He will be competing against the 2016 gold and silver medalists in shot put at the trials.

Right now, he is about 65 centimeters short of the top 18 shot putters that will make it to the trials. The top three from each county will be selected to go to the Olympics.

Neely got interested in track and field because of his dad Kurt who is a coach and was a shot putter. Kurt encouraged his sons to get involved in track and field and do the same. Kurt has a discus record at the former Greensburg High School.

Neely watched meets on TV and saw the Olympics and decided he should go out and do it. He and his brothers enjoyed competing from sixth grade through high school.

The K-State track program works with athletes to help them become as good as they can imagine. When it comes down to it, athletes have to depend on themselves because while he is part of the team, he has to do his event on his own.

“It all depends on how good you are,” Nelly said.

Training is a big part of Neely’s life. He practices shot put six days a week from an hour and a half to two hours a day. Plus he lifts weights in the gym three days a week for about an hour and a half each day.

There is a practical advantage to being a shot putter. He gets to throw heavy things every day plus there isn’t a lot of running required so he doesn’t have to hate running, Neely said with a laugh.

Neely’s older brother Chris didn’t continue track and field in college and is studying to become a nurse anesthetist. Younger brother Adam is doing shot, discus and hammer at University of Memphis while studying business.

Neely currently lives in Nashville, Tenn. His parents are Kurt Neely and Vonda Stephenson. His grandfather was Gene Neely whom many in Greensburg will remember.

He has family all over Kansas. Multiple cousins went through the engineering program at K- State and influenced his choice to go there.

@GaleR_Tribune