In 1979, with his heart tugging on him to return to coaching high school runners, a northern Missouri native turned his eyes to the southwest corner of the state and a town called Neosho.

Harry Lineberry didn’t know what he was getting into. And Neosho didn’t know what it was truly getting. For both, fortunately, they were hidden gems.

“I had never heard of it,” Lineberry said of Neosho High School. “I didn’t plan on being a short-timer. And I found a niche, I guess.”

Did he ever. Lineberry coached track & field as well as cross country for 33 years (1979-2011) at Neosho High School. Now his path is leading to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, which proudly inducted Lineberry with the Class of 2022.

After all, his 1983 and 1984 girls cross country teams won Class 4 state championships (MSHOF 2022). Additionally, Lineberry’s boys and girls track and field teams combined for nearly 30 conference championships. His girls and boys cross country squads won 18 conference championships, 10 district titles and six sectional championships.

In his era, Neosho had 72 All-State finishes combined in girls and boys in track and cross country.

In Lineberry’s final seasons, the girls track team won six conference (2006-2011) and four district (2008-2011) titles, and three sectionals.

A number of Coach of the Year and other honors found him along the way, and he was inducted into the Missouri Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2008.

Best of all, he wasn’t just happy to be a high school coach. Instead, he was proud to lead Neosho runners.

And a case in point are all his keepsakes. Among them is a rare medal noting the long-ago Big 13 Conference – each school’s letters and mascot are specially cast in silver – as well as a trophy from the prestigious Kansas Relays, where a 2011 girls team won a distance medley relay.

All this from a 1966 graduate of Slater High School in northern Missouri, where Lineberry was a four-time state medalist in track. He later graduated from Missouri Valley College in 1970 after earning four letters in track and cross country.

By the end of the decade, however, Lineberry was out of coaching, enjoying a job with the Missouri Department of Mental Health in Fulton. Yet he could feel the tug of coaching on his heartstrings, especially after helping kids in the Special Olympics.

Previously, he had taught at the Miami school district and then for Marshall High School, where Lineberry coached two cross country conference championship teams and a boys track team that won conference and district titles.

“I missed it,” Lineberry said. “I realized I wanted to get back.”

Fortunately, he learned from those early years and was reading Runners World magazine and numerous coaching books.

Lineberry produced numerous success stories.

The 1983 & 1984 girls state title teams featured two-time state champion Tammy Townsend Holder (MSHOF Wynn Award 2019). Her brother, Jay, won state in the 3,200 meters (9:13), helped Southeast Missouri State’s cross country team win the 1985 national championship and was a 1987 cross country All-American.

Bert Wood ran a 4:18 mile, the school record since 1985. Brad Mears threw the shot put in the Olympic Trials. Mark Sparks (MSHOF Filbert Five 2015) won the 100, 200, 400 and 4×400 at the conference meet in the early 1980s before playing college basketball.

Neosho’s 3200-meter relay of Dora Eastin, Courtney Wood, Jessica Jackson Kamilos and Kisa Clark ran the second-fastest time in MSHSAA history. Eastin later was All-MIAA in cross country at Missouri Southern and ran the Boston Marathon three times.

Wood and Jackson earned all-conference in the steeplechase at Mizzou and the University of Arkansas, respectively. Jackson, an All-American, competed in the Olympic Trials and ran for Saucony.

Emily Paullus Able was All-MIAA in the pentathlon at Missouri Southern.

Several athletes are now coaches: Terri Gillispie Kemna, Dora Estin, Morgan Rathman Rodriguez, Emily Paullus Able, Bethany Schnackenberg McCarty, Martha Schnackenberg Harper, Ryan Harper, Cody Holland, Joe Cusack, Jared Cristy, Frank Hebert, Nathan McAlister, Logan Wilson and Steve Schnackenberg.

Assistant track coaches were Phil Young, Mel Bachman, Sue Buttram, Gary Dickinson, Jim Stuart, Tom Thorne and Beth Alms.

Lineberry thanks family for his success: His wife, Susan, and sons Scott and his wife, Kristin; Adam and his wife, Ju, and stepdaughter Carla and her husband Brad Ballard. He has five grandchildren.

“I really enjoyed my job. I enjoyed the people,” Lineberry said. “I just felt I was in the right place.”