Champlin Park High School sophomore Chaney Neu made state history scoring the first-ever perfect 10 on vault earlier this year.
Similarly, the Rebels volleyball played a season for the books, as they became the first team sport to win a state championship in school history last November.
In recognition of Neu’s and the volleyball team’s accomplishments during the 2018-19 school year, the city of Champlin has named them the 2019 Father Hennepin Parade grand marshals.
Ahead of the parade, The Press caught up with Neu and the 2019 volleyball captains who played the state championship game.
After the AA individual state gymnastics meet, Neu came home five state titles and two state records. Not only did she become the first in state history to have a perfect 10.0 vault, but the Champlin Park sophomore also set a state record with her state championship all-around performance with a score of 39.125. Additionally, Neu was awarded titles on the balance beam, uneven bars and floor exercise.
The Brooklyn Park native took up gymnastics at Twin City Twisters in Champlin at age 4 and was training 20 hours a week by age 10. Neu joined the Champlin Park squad four years ago as a seventh grader.
Ahead of the state competition, Neu said achieving a perfect score was always a goal she had in the back of her head. “Throughout the season I got a lot of high nines, so I was like maybe I can like actually do this,” Neu said.
When she completed her state vault performance, “I was like okay, I stuck it and could possibly get a 10,” Neu recalled. Then, when she received the perfect rank, “I was like wow, that actually happened. I was really surprised and proud of myself,” Neu said.
Thinking back to that history-making moment, Neu said there was a lot excitement in the air and happy crying. However, “I’m pretty sure my mom didn’t actually cry for once,” Neu said and laughed. While watching a video clip back of her vault routine, she was able to spot her mother jumping up as soon as she stuck it. “Everyone was super excited, because they all knew that I wanted to stick that vault.”
Besides hours of training on and off season to prepare for perfection, Neu does mental exercises before big meets. “I try to l just think of all the positives, like try to clear my mind all the negative things that could happen,” Neu said. The days leading up to competitions, Neu visualizes her routines and sets goals. “If you set a goal, you’re more likely to achieve it,” she added.
This coming season, Neu’s goal is to be ready to compete as soon as her knee heals from a recent incident. A couple weeks ago while on the vault, Neu did a tuck when she should have done a layout which made her alignment crooked and resulted in her knee caving in. After an MRI, Neu found out she tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus and partially tore her medial collateral ligament (MCL).
Once school lets out she will have surgery on her knee, and recovery could take six months to a year. Neu’s physical therapist thinks she could heal in six months. “If I work really hard, then I could be back for sections and state,” Neu said. Before her incident, Neu was working on new skills, specifically on doing a full on vault versus a layout.
Over the summer she is looking forward to spending time by the river near her home, hanging out with friends, taking walks with her dog, shopping and potentially more college visits.
Neu hopes to continue gymnastics in college and is interested in becoming a veterinarian one day. “I want to go to Iowa State because they have like that school a really good vet school,” she said. However, she plans to visit more D1 and D3 schools.
Although, Neu might not be able to attend the parade with it being so close to her knee surgery, she said she was surprised to be selected as grand marshal. “There are so many possible people that they could choose, so it’s very, very cool to be chosen.”
Champlin Park’s 2019 volleyball captains were also surprised to find out the team was chosen as co-grand parade marshals with Neu.
When the Rebels won the AAA state final against top-ranked Eagan, they were greeted with cheers and celebration from their peers when they returned back to Champlin Park.
One moment after the Rebels earned a state title that still sticks out to junior and volleyball captain Jordan Staples is her sister’s reaction. “I remember that my sister was screaming my name. Then, when I went to the side and started hugging her, I just started bawling tears of happiness and she was crying too,” Staples recalled. “It was probably like one of the best moments of my life, it was cool just to make history.”
Staples has committed to play volleyball for the University of Nebraska. The 2019 captain said her favorite aspect of the sport is the competitiveness and she looks forward to stepping up in a leadership role this upcoming season and being a role model to younger players.
Co-captain and junior Megan Panser had seven digs during the historic championship game. “I think everyone was really proud of us, because we had been working really hard,” Panser said. To keep spirits high ahead of big games, Panser said the team always gathers together before it begins.
“We do pump up cheers and write on our arms some phrases that just keep our mental focused,” Staples added.
Looking ahead to the fall season, the captains and Champlin residents said the goal to win at state will carry over. Although, the team will lose many graduating seniors, they plan on working just as hard, Panser said. Two-a-day practices are already planned for the team this summer.