Catching up, finally, with Amber Trotter

  • Ukiah cross country runner Amber Trotter, left, celebrates with Montgomery's Sara Bei after the state meet in 2000. (PRESS DEMOCRAT ARCHIVE)

UKIAH — The fastest schoolgirl in American history speaks rather slowly. She is introspective and articulate, and she chooses her words carefully, though she remains as candid as ever.

“Right now, I just don't have much desire to prove myself,” Amber Trotter said. “The older I get, the harder it is for me to want to prove myself.”

Granted, Trotter is not a schoolgirl anymore, unless you count her Ph.D. program in clinical psychology. She is 29 now. But anyone who follows distance running in the Redwood Empire knows her name, and probably remembers the records she shattered as a senior at Ukiah High in the fall of 2001.

That would include the time of 16 minutes, 15 seconds she clocked over three miles at the North Coast Section Cross Country Championships that year. When the best high schoolers in the area ran at Hayward High on Saturday, it was Trotter's record pace they were chasing.

For purpose of comparison, imagine the fastest cross-country runners of the NCS over the past decade-plus — girls like Healdsburg's Sarah Sumpter, Montgomery's Julie Nacouzi and Casa Grande's Jacque Taylor, plus all the rabbits from Carondelet and College Park, etc. Now get out your phone and open the stopwatch, and as you start it, imagine Amber Trotter crossing the finish line. Now count out the seconds and visualize an empty chute. It's kind of peaceful. Birds may be chirping. Finally, when you get to 42 seconds, picture a Campolindo girl, Carrie Verdon, pushing across the line just ahead of Sumpter, followed by a stampede of runners.

Forty-two seconds. That's not the margin by which Trotter won her NCS race in 2001. It's the gap between her and every other girl on the Hayward course, that has hosted the event 13 of the past 15 years.

And her achievements went beyond local boundaries. At the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., that year, Trotter shattered the event record with a run of 16:24. It has never been equaled.

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