Westside sophomore Claire White is a returning state medalist this year with hopes of a first place medal at the state meet at the end of this year’s season.
White placed fifth in last year’s state meet, after a freak accident in which White ended up fainting mid-race. She still managed to get up and finish strong with a 5th place medal.
Girls cross country head coach Theresa Gosnell is confident in White’s skills to place well at the state meet this year.
“I think she has a really good chance,” Gosnell said.
Cross country and track run in White’s family, even before she started competing at Westside. White’s mother helped her understand the sport at a higher level.
“My mom was a cross country runner [in high school] and placed top five at the state meet in Iowa, so she knows a lot about the sport,” White said.
White feels the support from her team and her family, which has pushed her to do even better throughout the cross country season.
“My mom comes to every single meet, even when it’s Kearney which is three hours away, and I really appreciate that,” White said. “My coaches are also super supportive, they will do anything to make sure that you’re healthy.”
White feels incredible support from her family and the coaching staff. They have high expectations of her during this cross country season. White always tries to improve herself and feels that the pressure of always trying to be the best can sometimes affect her in a negative way.
“There’s a lot of pressure especially with the transfer of Stella Miner [the 2020 state champion] to Westside,” White said. “To be honest I feel like I haven’t really been exactly where I want to be.”
White has one of the best running partners alongside her during practice this fall. Sophomore Stella Miner was the 2020 Class A State Champion and transferred from Marian. Since she is not able to compete in varsity meets due to NSAA transfer protocols, Miner relates a lot to White’s ambitions.
“We definitely both have super competitive spirits,” Miner said. “At the end of our six mile runs we both love to finish our runs with a really quick finish and see who can get back to Westside first.”
White and Miner make each practice very competitive and try to push each other during their long practice runs.
“I don’t know about her but to me it becomes sort of like a race,” Miner said. “At the end of our long runs I can hear her breath right next to me so it makes it seem just like a cross country race.”
White has placed in the top five in each of her four meets so far this season. However, White hasn’t been able to reach the top of the podium since the first meet of the year.
Although competing with the best runners in the state, White expressed that she wants to finish among the top three at the state meet.
“I’m ranked third or fourth in the state right now, so I would really love to get third or even higher at state this year,” White said.
White is one of the favorites from Westside to place at the state meet in the 2021-2022 cross country season. White’s next meet will be on Monday, Sept. 27 at the Kearney Country Club, which will host the state cross country championship in October.