Rolesville High graduating its first group of seniors this year is pretty special.
The honor for Lauren White holds a bit more weight.
In February, White won the school’s first state championship, claiming the long jump title to wrap up the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A indoor track season. Her 18-06.5 mark was enough for the victory.
Just months later, White is eyeing more gold in the finals. The senior hopes she can repeat her indoor success in the outdoor finals on Saturday.
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Either way, she’s started a hopeful tradition for the Rolesville Rams – in any sport.
“It’s a really big deal, because our school is just starting, so we’re developing our athletes from freshman year all the way up to senior year,” White said. “Me being a conference champion and indoor state champ, I try to set an example and help other kids in any sport to inspire them to become greater kids.”
While White, who will run for N.C. State next season, once led the state in the 100- and 200-meter races this season, her specialty is the long jump. She began competing in track and field when she was 4, and long jump was her first event. She strayed away to experiment with more running events but found her way back to jumping in the seventh grade, the year she started her six-year streak of nationals appearances.
White, the Greater Neuse River Conference 100 (12.01 seconds) and 200 (24.42) champ, also hit one of the state’s top marks in long jump this year when she went 18-7 on March 19.
Since, she’s been passed Dudley’s Jazmine Gooden.
A competitive spirit, White said that only drives her more.
“It’s pushed me a lot,” she said of Gooden’s 19-4. “We know each other. I know a lot of athletes out there. They push me as much as I push them.”
White said from childhood, she’s always enjoyed seeing where she stacks up against others. With consistent motivation from her parents, her competitive nature kept her involved in track for more than a decade.
A couple of days before this year’s outdoor Mideast Regional finals, at Apex Friendship last Saturday, White was one of the few Rams regional qualifiers remaining. She completed a set of 150s before taking a few jumps at the pit.
White said the challenge in long jump is combining your technique to assure you reach the maximum number of inches, since how you land or use your strength and speed on the run can affect your measure.
Without giving away her secrets, White said to be successful at long jump, it takes “getting height and standing tall when you’re running down the runway. It really helps.”
With her winning formula, White hopes to sweep state championships in her outdoor events before she hangs up her high school spikes.
“It’s the start of something great,” Rams assistant Carolyn Ashdown said of White’s time on track. “A lot of kids here are freshmen and sophomores. Seeing a senior get to those levels and excel, it gives them something to work for and work towards.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan