Cleburne senior Skaila White, one of the Lady Jackets’ most successful track and field athletes over the past three years, signed with Wichita State University on Wednesday to continue her career with a well-respected track and field program.

White has excelled in the triple jump and long jump events for the Lady Jackets track team, qualifying for regionals three times. Last year, White was the district champion in the triple jump with a leap of 39 feet, 8.25 inches, and finished second place in the long jump with a distance of 18 feet, 0.25 inches. She was also on two relay teams that advanced to area last year.

Cleburne Head Track and Field Coach Jason Payne said White’s desire to be better is what sets her apart from most athletes.

“What makes her special in track and field is her determination to always be better,” Payne said. “She’s unmatched. It was hard at times because she always wants to do more. As a coaching staff, we had to really monitor her and make sure she didn’t over-do it. At times, you have to tell her, ‘Hey, you got this. Just go compete and do what you do.’ And that’s win.

“She has had a great, great career here at Cleburne. We’re very proud of her. She’s set the bar high in track and field, and we wish her the best. To further her career in track is awesome and it’s been a pleasure to coach her. As coaches, we’re blessed to be around athletes like her, that always come ready to work. Even though she might give you a little bit of an attitude here and there, she’s always had a smile on her face and always had a humble attitude.”

White, who has been active in track and field since she was 7 years old, said seeing her goal of signing with a Division I program means everything.

“It means a lot to me to sign today because it means I officially get to go to the collegiate level and compete in an environment as competitive as the DI level,” White said. “Whenever I was there on my official visit, the coaching staff was really good, so was the environment and talking with the other athletes. It was really nice, the school itself. From the academic side, they have an athletic coordinator that will guide me through all four years until I get to [physical therapy] school.”

Payne said he thinks the Wichita State Shockers will be a great match for White’s strengths.

“A very great track and field program,” Payne said. “It’s going to be very interesting to see her go up there and compete. They see her as a competitor and her willingness to always get better. She’s going to be a very big asset to their program. We look forward to seeing her up there.”

Cleburne Coach Marlon Winn said he has high expectations for White in the future.

“It’s been an honor to be around Skaila,” Winn said. “Being around her every day, she’s a jovial personality. ... She works extremely hard. I’m excited to see what she does at the next level, and hopefully see her flying our American colors one day.”

White, also a member of the varsity Lady Jacket basketball team, said she plans to specialize in the triple jump and long jump with Wichita State, and maybe participate in a relay team.

“At Wichita State, I’m looking forward to competing at a high level and also having fun with my team,” she said.

In the long jump, White’s career best mark is 18 feet, 2 inches. And in the triple jump, her personal record is 39 feet, 8.25 inches. Despite qualifying for regionals her first three years, a berth to state has eluded her by the slimmest of margins.

“Over three years she’s kind of had a hiccup at regionals, but each year she’s gotten better,” Payne said. “This year we anticipate her to make regionals again and overcome that level of competition and see her go to state.”

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