GREENSBORO, NC – Senior North Carolina A&T track and field star Kayla White has been named the NCAA Division I Women’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Year as announced by the United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association on Tuesday.
It sounds like an individual honor in a sport that majors in highlighting individual honors. Even to Kayla White a few years would have thought it an individual honor, but she has changed.
“Once she got to the point where she was winning a lot, we had to teach her the importance of leading others,” said Duane Ross, the Aggies director of track and field programs and the 2019 USTFCCCA Southeast Region women’s track and field coach of the year. “It was hard for her to understand at first – the need to be a leader on a track and field team. But we told her it’s important you serve your team. You get them to be their best while staying at your best. I’ve got to say she started to get it and she has done a wonderful job being our leader.”
White, who also earned Southeast Region women’s track Athlete of the year by the USTFCCCA two weeks, uses three simple words, to sum up, Ross’s words.
Leaving a legacy
White sees the relevance of other student-athletes from small Division I schools and or schools who are not in the ACC, SEC, Big 10, Big 12 or Pac-12 seeing what she accomplished and believing they can achieve it too – athletes like her teammates, Bethune-Cookman athletes and the Aggies who will follow in her footsteps after she graduates in May with her journalism degree.
“I just want to leave a legacy, not only for my teammates and my university but for (historically black college and university) athletes all over the country,” said White. “I think that is so important.”
First for an Aggie
Last weekend, White shook up the collegiate track and field world by becoming the first N.C. A&T Aggie to win an NCAA national championship. White won the 200m at the 2019 NCAA Track and Field Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Ala., in 22.62, which is the fastest time ran in the world this year.
She also just missed winning a national title in the 60-meter hurdles after finishing second, two/tenths of a second behind Southern Cal’s Chanel Brissett. White had the opportunity to compete for three national titles. She recorded one of the top-16 times in the country in the 60 meters during the indoor season qualifying her for the championship meet. The start time for the 60m race was too close to the start time for the 60mh which would not have given her enough recovery time.
Therefore, she chose to compete in the 60mh and withdrew from the 60m. She is only the seventh athlete in NCAA indoor meet history to score in both the hurdles and the 200. No one in NCAA indoor meet history has ever totaled 18 points in those event two events. Her 18 points helped the Aggies finish tied for seventh nationally.
Lifting the team
White’s remarkable season extended beyond the NCAA indoor championships, however. Her brilliance in the 60mh, 200m and 60m had the Aggies ranked as high as 14th in the country this season.
She helped the women’s track and field team win their third straight MEAC indoor title by winning the 60mh and 200 at conference indoor championships on Feb. 23. White was named the Most Outstanding Track Athlete by the MEAC after scoring 28 points and breaking meet records in the 60mh (8.07) and 200m (23.53).
On Feb. 9, at the Tyson Invitational, she ran a 22.82 in the 200m. At the time, it was the fastest time in the world. She lost her claim on that recognition for a few weeks when a 22.80 was recorded, but she reclaimed the distinction at the NCAA indoor meet. She also won races at the Virginia Tech Invitational (60m; 7.25), the Carolina Challenge (200m; 23.03, 60mh; 8.07), and the Tyson Invitational (200m; 22.82).
White still has her senior outdoor season ahead. Her next race will likely be at the Florida Relays hosted by the University of Florida, March 28-29.
She will come into the outdoor season with two first-team All-American honors in the 60mh, one first-team, All-American honor in the indoor 200m and second-team All-American honors in the 100mh and the 4×100. She also has combined to win 14 MEAC indoor or outdoor titles in her career.
The legacy has been left.