By James Billstine, Neah-Kah-Nie Track Coach
I walked into our staff meeting on Monday and sat down, ready to begin another week. As I reflected on my weekend at the 2A State Track and Field Meet in Monmouth, our resident historians, Principal Buckmaster, Neah-Kah-Nie graduating class of 1986, and Mr. Douma, Athletic Director, Neah-Kah-Nie graduating class of 1997, agreed that Neah-Kah-Nie High School has never had a freshman win two state championships in Track and Field.
Jordan White capped off the end of her 2019 Track and Field season by doing just that–breaking her own personal record and winning the 2A girls 800 meter run in 2:24.52–improving on Neah-Kah-Nie High School’s 46-year old Freshman record by over 6 seconds, and overtaking the overall 800 school record by about 3.5 seconds.
An hour and 32 minutes before her 800 she ran the 1500 in 5:00.01. This did not break her own personal and school record of 4:56.53, (which beat the previous school record by nearly 15 seconds) but was still fast enough to take home her first championship medal of the day.
I was standing on the backstretch during the 1500 with opposing coaches when Jordan kicked with 250 meters to go. Jaws fell and the voices lifted–there was disbelief–then belief.
The times, the records, and the talent that Jordan hold are all inarguably impressive. But what these numbers all belie are the things that got her to those races. I wasn’t there for all the trips that her parents Erick and Kathleen White made taking her back and forth from practices. I wasn’t there for all of the sports she played growing up, all the coaches giving her guidance and encouragement. I wasn’t there when she ran on lonely Cross Country courses this fall, or took the ball up court at her point guard position in the crowded gyms of the Northwest League this winter.
But I was there to see what helped carry her down the homestretch of her freshman year of athletics. In Track, an “individual” sport, she was carried by the individual acts of the 20 members of Neah-Kah-Nie High School’s Track and Field Team. She was carried when the distance crew of Frank Stumpf, Ecca Fry, Rhea Bryant, Dinah Schultz, Michael Laun, and Emma Murphy went on long runs together. She was carried when the team came together to lift after a hard day of practice, with Jacob Waldron, Jack Porter, Nakai Reny-Hamer, Joe Vega, Nicholas Bailey, Aspen Becker, Karissa Hadermann, Tonanzy Mendoza, Emma Miller, and Bella Simmons. She was carried by her teammates’ persistence in dedication to the workouts as the season wore on. She was carried by the raucous cheering of the throwers, Logan Chestnut, Seth Ziemecki, Nikko Mendez, Tristan and Travis Bennett, Ruth Ayala, and Grace Ferris.
She was carried by her fellow state qualifiers at state, with Dinah placing 8th in the 3000, Karissa placing 6th in the 100 meter hurdles, Tristan placing 4th in the shot put, Seth competing in the shot put; and Rhea as a member of the 4×400 meter relay team along with Dinah, Karissa, and Jordan. She was carried by Coach Quintana when I wasn’t around. And least of all, she was carried by me.
While records will undoubtedly continue to be broken, it is the efforts of many–a family, a team, a school, and a community–that allow the accomplishments of one.