Santa Rosa High School senior runner Delaney White has a chance to make history at Friday’s North Bay League cross-country championships at Spring Lake.
If she wins, as many local coaches think she will, White will become the first North Bay runner — boy or girl — to win the NBL title all four years of high school.
A surprise winner her freshman year, White took the league individual title that year by three seconds, finishing the 3-mile Spring Lake course in 18:17. The following year, 2013, she won by 10 seconds, in 18:26.
And last year, she increased her margin of victory to 33 seconds, winning her third NBL title race in 18:14.
White’s coaches, those from early in her running career until today, think she is in an excellent position physically and mentally to etch her name into local cross-country history books come Friday afternoon.
“Delaney has shown a tremendous amount of dedication and passion for the sport,” said Santa Rosa assistant coach Carrie Joseph. “It’s been a real pleasure watching her grow.”
Head coach Doug Courtemarche, too, said White has matured into a dominant runner who leads the pack, in more ways than one.
When White was younger, he said, she sometimes didn’t follow instructions and in times of stress, fell back on bad habits. But her hard work has funneled that stress into a burning desire to succeed.
“She is very determined, and very fortunate that the focus is there — she is now able to discipline herself better,” Courtemarche said.
Bob Shor, an early youth coach for White with the Santa Rosa Express before she entered high school, remarked on how much she has developed from the “average” runner he first saw.
“She’d come to practice but she really didn’t have the mental drive,” he said. “Then, when the light came on, everything started to click.
“In Delaney’s case, she is just mentally getting stronger and stronger and stronger, upstairs. She’s got it put together now.”
White has said her parents exposed her to several different sports when she was very young, but nothing really stuck. Then her mother connected her with the “Girls On the Run” program and she found her calling.
White is now weighing her Division I college options, Nevada and Idaho looking the most promising.
While she has handily beaten other NBL competition this year, White has quite a distance to break the overall league record at Spring Lake.
Legendary local runner Julia Stamps, also of Santa Rosa High, holds the course best of 16:18, set in 1994. Montgomery’s Julie Nacouzi was the last female runner to finish Spring Lake in under 18 minutes, recording a time of 17:24 in the 2009 NBL championships.
Beyond Friday, White still has the North Coast Section Championships, Nov. 21 in Hayward, and the state championships, Nov. 28 in Fresno, to focus on.
For state, White may want to focus on the legacy of former Montgomery standout Sara (Bei) Hall, who is the first high school athlete ever to win four individual cross-country state titles.
Aimee Holland, a close friend of White’s with whom she’s competed together for years, has watched her friend from behind this year. Holland is the Panthers’ No. 2 or No. 3 runner.