The Class 3, 4 and 5 varsity state track and field championships at Jefferson City High School were a grueling two-day event highlighted by 90 degree temperatures, a tremendous lack of shade and, for most, the agony of defeat, yet, at the end of it all Mexico's Jasean White still found the energy to dance.
Perhaps it was where he was standing. The top spot on an eight-man podium is probably a rather invigorating place to be. Most of us will never actually know, but even at the end of 48 hours in a football-field shaped oven wasn't going to bring down this Bulldog as he stood proudly with his gold medal at the state meet in the Class 4 long jump last month at the end of day two.
If that was the end of his athletic tale after he broke the school and North Central Missouri Conference record of 22-9 in the long jump with a distance of 22-10.25 at the league meet earlier this season previously set by current Mexico assistant coach Austin Miller in 1972, that would still be quite a tale. But it isn't. Instead, White is training for Team USA in an effort to become an All-American this summer, and making this adventure even more adventurous is the fact Miller has been by his side almost acting as a personal coach for White since junior high.
"USA Track has state level events and they have nationals. The difference between State level track and AAU is you go up against all 50 states and there are a lot more competitors," said White. "For example, Texas is known for it's jumping program and other states have their strengths. The idea is to earn All-American status."
As if that wasn't enough, White is also training with the Mexico football and basketball teams this summer. This included working as a counselor at the youth hoops skills clinic at then high school last week.
"I do football training, which means at 6 a.m. we lift weights. That will get my legs stronger for the triple jump," White said. "Hopefully that will also help weith speed control throughout the year."
White's summer as far as USA Track goes includes a meet on June 15-16 at William Jewel College. From there he'll go to the University of Arkansas on July 5-9 for regionals and nationals are in North Carolina on May 18.
"Hopefully Moenaisa Sidique, she's looking into doing USA track and field this year with me. The first couple years it was just myself and coach Miller," said White. "Then my dad went with coach Miller and I to California. This year it's hopefully the same. I'm just trying tyo get more teammates out there with me."
When it comes to Mexico track and the idea of trying to win a team title in his senior season, White doesn't believe the formula for something like that would come through quantity, but instead through quality. And work ethic, because without both of those concepts working in tandem, the Bulldogs chances next year won't be any better than they were this year.
"It's not really about the size. It's about coming out and reaching the goals we want to reach. From there we'd need to continue to do what we're doing, stay with each other and keep the encouragement up," White said. "(Because this is my final summer to train as a prep athlete,) I need to go at it harder than I already am. To buckle down and focus on nothing else."
One part of White's training that may be somewhat understated is just how much Miller does for him both technically and mentally. The support White recieves form Miller extends in every direction and goes well beyond what other athletes get from there coaches, and if that's a benefit over the kids he's competing against that spans from confidence to style and everything in between.
"He breaks down the techniques and tells me what I'm doing wrong. Most people don't have coaches that will go home and study film and break down what they're seeing," said White. "They'll just be told to make adjustments on the fly and they still mess up. We came out to practice to see what I was doing wrong and we just kept practicing and practicing until I did it right."