For placing fifth in the Division I girls high jump at the state track and field meet, New Albany High School senior Dena White's picture will be added to a hallway in the school already adorned by photos of all-state honorees.
White's teammate, Karrington Winters, already is pictured by virtue of having won 400-meter state championships each of the past two years. But it was White's performance at state that brightened a somber weekend in which Winters was physically unable to attempt a three-peat because of a left hamstring injury.
White cleared a personal-best 5 feet, 5 inches in the high jump to place fifth June 7 at Ohio State. She fell short on all three attempts at 5-6, and Strongs-ville's Cassie Martin won the championship at 5-8.
"I told myself I wouldn't be intimidated. I wouldn't get in my own way," White said. "I just wanted to go for it. The worst thing that could happen is the bar (would) fall. Instead of getting in my own way, I pushed through it and was happy to be here. I am ecstatic to be in the spot I am."
White is the third member of her family to earn all-state honors.
Her brother, 2006 New Albany graduate Mark Childs, was eighth in the Division II state meet in the 800 as a senior. Her sister, Rosie White, is the school's record-holder in the long jump (18-8 1/2) and was fourth in that event in the 2008 Division I state meet.
Rosie White now is an assistant coach for the Eagles.
Coach Otis Winston thought a simple tweak of Dena White's technique might have earned her a few extra inches.
"I really think if she'd have gotten her head back, she would have been over 5-8 or 5-9," Winston said. "She is probably the highest jumper in the field, but (it's all about) technique. Height can only take you so far. Height got her over 5-5. She had to arch (and) she had to get her head back. I truly believe she is a 5-10 jumper."
White's finish earned New Albany four points and a tie for 44th behind champion Solon (47) as 77 teams scored. Solon, which won its second consecutive title, finished one point ahead of runner-up Pickerington Central.
Winters, a junior who had the top time of all state qualifiers in the 400, seemed to be in pain from the start of the preliminary race June 6. She took a standing start instead of starting from the blocks and quickly fell behind, limping to eighth in the heat and 13th overall (1 minute, 3.1 seconds).
Winters was helped off the track, carried to a medical cart by Winston and was examined by trainers for several minutes.
Winters also came up lame in the 200 regional final May 30 at Pickerington North, citing cramps, but was able to finish. She wore a sleeve on her leg at state and did extra stretching in the days leading up to the meet, but to no avail.
"I felt (pain) throughout the week, but I figured that all runners have tweaks and just fight through them," Winters said. "In practice for the (800) relay, I felt my burst wasn't there, but I guess I convinced myself that it would go away. By my first step of the race, I realized I couldn't explode off my left leg. People told me to just finish, so I did."
White and Winters were joined at state by Daniel Plescia, who was 14th in the boys discus (148 feet).
White also replaced Winters as the anchor of the 800 relay that finished 16th (1:45.15). Debi Bhanja, Donissa Edmonds and Haley Lyles also were on the relay.
New Albany's boys did not score at state. Cleveland Glenville (40) won the championship as 71 teams scored.
Plescia improved on his personal-best effort but fell short of his goal of 150-0.
Plescia, who had thrown 147-7 in the Mehock Relays on April 19 at Mansfield Senior, hit 148-0 on his second attempt June 7. His first throw went 138-3, and the third went 142-3.
"I didn't want to get last place, which seems weird, but that was a big goal," said Plescia, who was seeded 16th of 16 competitors. "I never would have thought I'd make it to the state meet this year. That alone was unbelievable for me. I think it went really well. I did everything I wanted to. I came up short of 150, but it was really a good season."