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CIF track and field: Another type of victory

Amid tragedy, injuries, Tim White excels in triple jump

Posted: June 3, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 3, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Hart senior Tim White competes in the triple jump finals during Saturday’s CIF State Track and Field Championships on Saturday at Buchanan High School in Clovis.

 

CLOVIS — When the boys triple jumpers stood on the podium at the CIF State Track and Field Championships, one of them stood above everyone else.

That jumper, Klyvens Delunay of Claremont High School, was the winner of the event.

The man who stood next to him, Hart senior Tim White, may not have won the event, finishing second. But his journey to the state finals at Buchanan High School was a victory in many respects.

White once again smashed his own Foothill League record in the triple jump, going an eye-popping 51 feet, 5 inches on his second of six attempts.

Though there were eight other jumpers in the finals, only Delunay had a realistic shot of eclipsing White.

“I was confident,” White said, “but I also knew he could (set a personal record). He’s just as good of a jumper as me.”

A couple of months ago, White wasn’t that good of a triple jumper, period, because he hadn’t done the event before this season.

“I wanted to see what it looked like,” said Valencia High jumps coach Joey Tureaud, who volunteered his services to White and the Hart coaching staff over the past month. “And after I saw what it looked like, it looked terrible.”

But the potential was there. Tureaud said that once some of White’s mechanics were fixed, he knew White could jump more than 50 feet.

Tureaud helped White isolate each phase of the jump and work on his technique. He did the same with former Valencia jumper Faith Anumba, who reached the state finals in the long and triple jump last spring despite not having jumped prior to the season.

Raw athletes, Tureaud said, are at a distinct advantage from a coaching standpoint.

“Those are the best athletes to coach, because you see their flaws,” he said. “When they’re pretty good already, and then you see a lot of room for improvement, you know they’re going to be someone special.”

White went on to win the Foothill League title in the triple jump, followed by the CIF-Southern Section Division III title, when he jumped 48-5 1/4 at Mt. San Antonio College on May 19.

Then, the next day, tragedy struck.

White’s 22-year-old brother, Elwood, was shot and killed by a police deputy on May 20 under dubious circumstances. The North County Times of Oceanside reported that Elwood had been throwing “rocks and punches at apparent strangers at an Oceanside gas station,” and that Sheriff’s Department officials said the deputy had been “acting in self-defense.”

White’s father, Timmy, has peaceably disputed the police’s version of events, and supporters of Elwood have created a Twitter account, @Justice4Elwood, to aid the cause.

With his brother’s death lingering over him, White qualified for the state meet in the triple jump, but the field wasn’t necessarily a haven.

“It never gets off my mind,” White said. “Even when I run down the runway, I’m always thinking about him. I’m thinking, ‘Elwood, Elwood.’  That’s what really matters. He never leaves my head, even during jumping.”

With his brother on his mind, White popped his 51-5 on Saturday at the state finals.

Then, on Delunay’s next jump, he went 51-7. Delunay admitted that White was on his mind.

“Today, when I saw 51-5, there’s nothing you can do but do your best and hold each phase,” Delunay said.

White’s competitiveness kicked in at that point, too.

“Yeah,” the Hart senior said. “Of course.”

White still had four jumps left, but his best was 50-11 1/2. Delunay never approached 51-7 again, but the competition White provided had already pushed him far enough.

“When I have defeat on my back, that’s when I compete the best,” Delunay said. “All my PRs, I needed someone to push me. I thank him a lot for it. I needed him for it.”

On his 50-11 1/2 jump, White could have gone even further if he had kept his balance. Additionally, he was still dealing with nagging knee, ankle and shin injuries.

But excuses and regrets aren’t part of White’s mind-set now. Coming so far in the triple jump over just three months? Standing strong amid personal tragedy? Brightening the lives of those around him?

Those are the marks Tim White has left, more than any jumping distance.

Next fall, he’ll play football and participate in track and field for College of the Canyons. With White’s considerable talent, amicable personality and stern commitment, he’s a near lock to be picked up by an NCAA Division I school.

“I can’t explain it,” Tureaud said. “I’m so excited for him. He’s three and a half feet from Olympic trials marks, and he’s still trying to learn the event. It’s incredible.”

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