A season focused on tiny details ended a magnificent high school career with Delaney White earning one big honor.
A senior at Santa Rosa High School, White paid more attention to preparation and competition and wound up being chosen the All-Empire Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
“I ran more miles, for sure,” she said. “I was better about my iron intake and paid attention to core workouts. Early in the season my coach (Doug Courtemache) and I looked at it as a season of little things. All those little things weren’t as important in previous years. This year it was my season of little things.”
White, who has been dominating the upper level of the Redwood Empire distance running scene throughout her high school career, changed her view of running and racing. She started to enjoy running and looked at racing as a joy and honor.
“Running is running. Lots of people can run,” White said. “In past years, there were times I thought, ‘Do I have to do this?’ This year I trained harder with a better attitude because getting to race is an honor. Racing is racing. It’s special to compete. On race day, I’d think ‘Yes! I get to go race.’ It was just me running with a new sense of joy.”
White narrowly edged her closest competitor in the race for top Empire honor. California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 state champion Rylee Bowen of Sonoma Academy won top Empire honors last year. White, running in Division 2, ran better times than the sophomore star in both the North Coast Section and state meets.
This was simply a season in which longtime Empire star White put it all together in cross country.
White’s coach, Courtemache, agreed with White’s thoughts on what pushed her to the spot atop all Empire runners.
“She was just driven,” he coach said. “I knew of her from coaching (youth track) before she got to high school, but I’d never seen her approach the sport like she did this year. She works incredibly hard in class and on the course.
“She started to understand that top runners understand that there’s a structure to training and racing. She bought into the program more than ever before and she was always great to coach. She found patience to work within the structure instead of wanting everything right now.”
The postseason was important to White, but the race that will be closest to her heart is the Stanford Invitational. She chose to run in a very competitive division.
“That was my biggest race,” she said. “I told teammates I might finish 20th, but I will have tested myself against the best runners. I started running about 25th. Then I was 20th. I finished 10th. Stanford really built my confidence quite early in the season.”
White had a new feeling of support in races this season.
“In past years, I felt like I almost out there by myself,” she conceded. “This year’s team was just fantastic! They were so competitive and driven. They pushed each other to work harder. It was great to have such talented runners. It shows that our coach built a great program that will only get better.”