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White leads Pacer girls to third place

by: Craig Mitchelldyer, 
Lakeridge’s Mandy White, center, celebrates her victory in the 100-meter dash at last week’s state track meet in Eugene. White tied a meet record with her winning time of 11.91. She later set another meet record in the 200 when she won the 200-meter race in a time of 24.31. She also finished fourth in the long jump and the 25 points she earned in the three events made her the top point earner in the meet. That helped Lakeridge finish third in the team competition.

Lakeridge's Mandy White has placed herself among some pretty fast company. In fact, no girl has ever run faster than White at the state high school track meet.

She put herself at the top of the list last Saturday when she ran a blazing-fast 11.90 time to win the 6A 100-meter title. That mark tied the state meet record that Corvallis' LaReina Woods set in 1989.

A short time later, White topped herself when she recorded a 24.31 time to win the 200-meter race. That easily eclipsed the previous meet record of 24.64, which Benson's Deborah Jones set in 2003.

Going into the meet, White was confident that she would win both races, and that she would run fast times. But her accomplishments on Saturday were almost hard to fathom.

'It was just absolutely astounding,' Lakeridge girls coach Ken James would say later.

Of course, state meet records are kept separately from state records for an entire season. But White doesn't have much competition in that regard, either. Only Churchill's Margaret Johnson, in 1968, has run a faster 100 time in Oregon than White recorded on Saturday.

White also took fourth place in the long jump with a personal career-best 17-8¾. With the five points she received from that event, plus the 10 points each she got from winning the sprint races, White wound as the meet's top individual point winner with 25 points.

White was the clear favorite in the 100 after holding the state's top time all season long. But the 200 was more of a challenge since she was seeded only third coming into the meet. But White didn't leave any doubt about who was the best. Her margin of victory in the 200 was .68 over Benson's Kayla Smith. In the 100, White beat Smith by exactly one-half of that amount - .34.

White nearly broke the meet record in the 100 prelims when she got a quick jump out of the blocks. That had James thinking that a meet record might be possible in the final. Amazingly, White set that record despite getting a poor jump out of the blocks in the final.

'She was one of the last ones out of the blocks,' the coach said.

With a better start, James believes White's winning time could have been somewhere around the 11.80 mark.

Then, after setting the state mark in the 100, there was little question that White would win the 200 as well. After running in the low 25-second range most of the season, White simply owned the 200 on Saturday.

'She just really turned it on in that race,' James said.

While White was hogging the spotlight, some of her teammates were quietly turning in some impressive performances in other events last week. That included a second-place showing by Andrea Hopkins in the javelin, a fourth place by Lexi Ross in the high jump and Samantha Berryman took fourth in the triple jump and eighth in the high hurdles.

That threesome added another 19 points to the 25 White that claimed, and the 44 team points was good enough for Lakeridge to finish third in the team competition.

Based on the seeding marks of his athletes, James figured his team had a good chance to finish seventh in the team competition. So, a third-place finish 'was pretty much a shock,' James said.

One of the keys was having Berryman qualify for the final in the high hurdles. It was something she wasn't expected to do because of her seeding time.

'But we knew she would have a chance,' James said.

Berryman wound up eighth in that race but she turned in a career-best time with a mark of 15.57.

James also was hoping to score some points in the 4x400 relay but the Lakeridge team of Stacy Sawin, Michael McNairy, Kathyrn Collins and Jenna Horton finished 11th in the prelims and never made it to the final. Despite failing to make the final in that race, Lakeridge still had enough points to hold off Southridge and Gresham for third place.

It was the second time in three seasons that the Lakeridge girls finished third in the team competition.

'I'd have to say this year was better because we scored more points (compared to 33 in 2005) and we took more girls to state,' the coach said.

Next season, James will return virtually everyone from this year's team. But he'll lose one runner that will be hard to replace.

It could even be impossible to replace White.