This year the cross country and track and field programs will have one of their top runners graduate – senior distance runner Chris White.

“Every year you have someone graduate that you know you cannot replace,” cross country Head Coach Pete Dolan said. “That is Chris White.”

White has come extremely far as both an athlete and a student at UCSB. Originally from Half Moon Bay, Calif., White came to UCSB as a mediocre high school runner who decided to try out for the college team because he figured he had nothing to lose.

“He is the perfect example of how our program should work and what it is all about,” senior distance runner David Monaco said.

When the Gaucho men’s cross country team was ranked #17 during White’s sophomore year, White knew this program was worth lacing up the shoes for.

“That was when Chris realized what it felt like to be part of a team that was one of the best in the country,” Dolan said. “After that, his experience was heightened and it made him work even harder.”

White looks back on the 2001 victory as one of his fondest and most highly regarded achievements.

“I saw true team unity,” he said.

Inspired and determined to succeed, White has risen to the ranks of the Gaucho elite as well as a staple in the Big West track scene. Last year White finished with All-Conference Honors in the 5,000-meter event in addition to placing third at the Big West Conference Championships. White devoted his entire summer to improving before the 2003-04 school year and traveled with four-year teammate Monaco to Flagstaff, Ariz., where they trained for their final season.

“Chris worked really hard in summer,” Dolan said. “He brought his running to the next level.”

This season has been a payoff for all of White’s efforts.

“I’ve had these goals for a long time,” White said. “I worked hard to achieve them.”

White’s career hit a new high when he won his heat in the 5,000 in the 2004 Big West Track and Field Championship this year. This season, White has set new personal records in the 3,000-meter with a time of 8:21.82, the 5,000 with a time of 14:12.97, and the 10,000-meter, finishing in 29:10.23.

“Chris has had the most consistent season of anyone I know,” Monaco said.

White’s greatest achievement is the 10,000-meter NCAA qualifying time, and he will go in seeded 19th in the country, which automatically moves him on to the annual national competition June 10, where he will race for his final time as a Gaucho in Austin, Texas. There, he will compete with 27 of the country’s best runners for one of eight All-American slots.

“This one is for all the marbles,” Dolan said. “He has a good shot.”

Practice and team support is what White says keeps him motivated.

“I’m pretty nervous,” White said. “I am also really excited. I will be racing with some of the fastest runners in the country, maybe even the nation. This is my last race in this stage of my career; I want to see what I can do.”

The 10,000 is a 25-lap race and is known for the drain it has on runners; it tests the runner’s endurance and, more predominantly, his mental toughness.

“Chris has shown that he is mentally and physically amazing,” Dolan said.

White holds the second-best record at UCSB in the 10,000 with a time of 29:10.23, falling four-tenths of a second short of UCSB alumni and All-American runner Josh Horton’s time.

“Chris has always been a key athlete in both cross country and track. I love having him on the team,” Dolan said. “He truly makes an impact on the team.”

On and off the track, White motivates those around him.

“I like to communicate things that will help people,” White said. “I feel if I stay positive it will extend into my running.”

White’s teammates believe he does exactly that.

“We couldn’t ask for anything else in a teammate. He looks out for everyone and motivates us,” Monaco said. “By having a good season, we want to run well for him because we know he runs for the team.”

Somehow this National Class runner manages to find the time for studying his two majors, and volunteering with campus organizations.

“I find that I work best with a full schedule,” White said. “I am a pretty active person and it relaxes me to know that I can have my hand in multiple things.”

When White is not writing a global studies paper or drawing for his art studio major he can be found at the co-op where he lives and shares chores with 15 individuals.

“We take turns cooking vegetarian meals for 15!” White said.

White is a truly unique individual; his future plans revolve around traveling and experiencing new things. He credits all his success to the people who have supported him along the way, but everyone who knows White knows that he works hard for what he has achieved, and he is going places.

“He has done huge things,” Monaco said. “And has great things ahead of him.”