By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
AUSTIN – Before Steven White was a state champion – and he is that – it was official, he was a high school graduate.
Instead of sitting through hundreds of graduates before hearing his name called, White graduated sixth in a class of about 20 at the UIL State Track Championships at Mike A. Myers Stadium, Saturday afternoon.
Then, he won the Class 5A 300-meter hurdles in 37.06 seconds, only the second Eagle to accomplish that feat.
"It means a lot. I'm a high school graduate and a state champion all in the same day," White said.
The University Interscholastic League suspended all activities in late April due to the threat of a swine flu pandemic and ultimately rescheduled the state track meet for the same weekend as many high school graduations.
"It was awesome of the UIL to go through the effort, and they didn't have to do that, to see these kids graduate," said first-year Ellison track coach Larry Moore, who escorted White from the staging area, down the back straightaway to receive his diploma.
"I don't know that he had any choice," Moore said. "I assumed all the coaches would be presenting. It was my first thought to do it.
"It's not just my duty, but my pleasure to be a part of it."
UIL Executive Director Charles Breithaupt said the state meet hadn't been rescheduled in the UIL's 100-year history, making Saturday afternoon's ceremony something especially memorable.
"It'll be a very long time before this happens again, if it happens again," said Ellison cross country coach Jesse San Miguel.
Moore credited San Miguel and White's participation in cross country this fall to his success during the spring track season.
Even though White hadn't run cross country since his freshman year, San Miguel said he noticed the biggest difference in White between his junior and senior year.
"Looking at his success, times and confidence this year has just been incredible," San Miguel said. "He's running like a man and that's how he got down here."
The endurance showed in the 300 hurdles on Saturday.
"It feels exhilarating. I feel like I actually accomplished something this year," White said. "I didn't actually see it going this way. I thought I would go faster."
But, all the same, he is a state champion hurdler and a high school graduate; his dreams of succeeding in high school and in track came to fruition in Austin.
"Really to make it here in an event is a big deal, but to also graduate at Mike Myers stadium at the state meet, now that's unique," said San Miguel.
Contact Kevin Posival at email@example.com or (254) 501-7562.