Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

May 4, 2014

White’s memory rekindled by 5K run

PRINCETON — Call it a friendly rivalry, or no rivalry at all.

Either way, when Lance McDaniel and Nick Whited meet on a course, they seem to bring out the best in the other.

McDaniel was able to win the 2nd Annual Sam White 5K Run for a second straight year, finishing the 3.1 mile course in 15:49, which wasn’t a surprise to Whited, who is more into the longer runs, having finished in the top six in four different 26-mile marathons last year alone.

“A very friendly rivalry, Lance and me have been racing for probably three or four years now, he is a lot faster from me, probably from the half-marathon down,” said Whited, who finished in second with a time of 17:34. “I think if he did the marathon I could probably keep up with him a little bit

“It is a good meeting ground. This is more his distance and I am stepping down from the marathon. I like it.”

The 26-year-old McDaniel, who ran cross country and most of the long distance events for the track team at Concord, will stick to the shorter routes for now, and leave the marathons to Whited, who won a 10K race last week, climbing steep Mill Mountain to the Roanoke Star and back down.

“He is a great guy, I love seeing him out and encouraging him,” said McDaniel, who won his third race this year, having also won in Bluefield and Roanoke. “I don’t even know if it is a rivalry, but it is just fun to run with him and compete with him, he is really good, he kills those marathons.

“I may run one some day, but I don’t feel the need right now, it is a lot of work and a lot of pain.”

Like all 294 participants — 174 females and 120 males — Princeton’s Erica Morgan was more interested in serving the cause for the event, which is to raise money for the children of Sam White, a Mercer County coach, who died unexpectedly in 2012.

A $1,000 scholarship will also be awarded to a student-athlete — or possibly $500 for a male and female — at Princeton Senior High School, which is where White was serving an assistant football coach at the time of his death.

“That was the biggest thing, for Sam White,” said Morgan, the organizer of the local Run for God running club, which had nearly 80 participants in the event. “It is going for such a good cause for such an awesome man and it means a lot to everybody.

“It kind of hits a special nerve. It was a good race for everybody to come together and rally together for him and his family.”

Morgan won the female portion of the event, finishing in a time of 21:22, followed by Bland County resident Kristy French, who crossed the finish line in 22:00.

“I just wanted to come out here and have a good time and just do my best, that was my goal,” said Morgan, who was surprised to finish in front. “A little bit, but I was really happy with it.

“My biggest thing was just to get finished and go back and cheer for all the other runners and walkers. That was my big thing, to finish and go back and cheer for them.”

Taking part in the event was White’s family, including his wife, Kelli, and White’s parents, Vickie and Sammy White. His sister, Angela Neal, participated, and finished third in her age group in her best showing (25:02) since running with her brother at a Camp Creek race in 2012.

“I had done it in 26:10 so today to almost to get even in the 24 range, I was barely in the 25s, it was exciting,” Neal said. “I know if he would have been here he would have been ecstatic...

“He was a far better runner than I was. I used to think it was because of those 6-foot-4 legs. I loved running with him and honestly since he left, I don’t think there has been one run that I have done where I don’t think of him. I think of him when I run.”

The 5K course started between Burke Memorial Baptist Church and The Sign Shop, extended up a slight incline to Mercer School, circled around Mark Wood (State Farm) Insurance and returned back to the finish line, all of which was time by Precision Timing System out of Greensboro, N.C.

Remarkably, all the runners and walkers were finished and awards presented in one hour and 30 minutes.

“At the start you kind of have the adrenaline so it kind of carries you up there,” McDaniel said. “The hardest part is when you turn around and it is an uphill climb back to the post office. After that it is flattened down the rest of the way and you have got the wind with you so it is nice.”

The 36-year-old Whited was slowed somewhat by an Achilles injury suffered during a recent training exercise up Mountain Lake Resort near Blacksburg. Still, Whited was making no excuses, but was just glad to help a good cause.

“It is a blessing, just glory to God for being out here, and Lance says the same thing,” Whited said. “Just doing it for Sam White’s kids, his wife and his sister, they come out and they are real supportive.

“That is touching for me, even if I get out of shape. It is similar with the Delp Run over there in Bluefield, that will probably be two runs I do because they really do go for good causes.”

No one appreciates it more than White’s own family, including Kelli, whose children Whitney and Easton will be the beneficiary of the college annuity raised by the event.

“It is wonderful, it is for a great cause for my late husband and it is just wonderful,” said Kelli, who ran with her husband at times, even competing in the Varmint Run in Burkes Garden, Va. “We couldn’t ask for a better community, people are great here...

“We ran a few times — he always beat me but he would always come back and get me — mainly before the kids. It is a bittersweet, he is watching us right now, I am sure, it is bittersweet.”

Sam White’s family echoed the same sentiments.

“It is just awesome, he is not forgotten,” Neal said. “Sam just had such pride in Princeton, he would have never wanted to live anywhere other than this, and I just think it is awesome that in Princeton, people come together, it is like we are family.

“When somebody loses something we all come together to help each other.”

 “It is the best community in the world,” added Vickie White. “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, I am so proud of everybody.”

Race organizers Randy Peek and Randy Wilson, who coached with White at Princeton, are glad to assist in rekindling his memory and helping his  family and a Princeton graduate with college scholarship money.  

“It is a great crowd, the city has really turned out, the city of Princeton is a great community, they support a good cause.” Peek said. “Everybody seems excited, having a great time, and the good weather, it is just a great day.”

Wilson used to run the same route with White, and was quick to thank the community not only for participating, but local businesses to help make it possible.

“There are so many people, it is a Mercer County thing, it is a Princeton thing...,” Wilson said. “He would have enjoyed this, the athletic event itself with running, and he would come around and just chit-chat with people and to be part of it, he would have really enjoyed it.”

Definitely. White’s left a rich legacy behind, and no one is more proud than his own family.

“I am glad to see all the support for our boy,” White’s father, also named Sam, said. “He has been gone two years, but we still think about him every day. We appreciate everybody coming out, we hope it grows and grows every year.

—Contact Brian Woodson

 bwoodson@bdtonline.com

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