Clarissa (left) and Cleo Whiting have slowly, and methodically built themselves a running reputation that is recognized on the Western Slope. The two stellar runners compete in the 1600 and 3200m runs and are members of a record-setting 3200m relay.
For the past few track seasons, Delta fans have witnessed the growth of a pair of stellar athletes who commit themselves to being the best they can be. Their high school distance track coach, J.B. Lopez, characterizes them as the runners "with the same paces and the same faces."
He's referring to Delta High School's twins Clarissa and Cleo Whiting.
The Whitings weren't always on the track and haven't always been avid runners who seek the ultimate performance each race they compete in. They began the process of competing as dancers (ballet) when they were four years old.
Multiple trips to Montrose for dance lessons consumed their time until the structure of the dancing routine changed.
While attending middle school in Delta, the two girls became somewhat interested in the sport of track while in the seventh grade. After coaxing from friends, they began running track.
Dance is no longer at the top of their lists of priorities, but they admit missing dance after stopping lessons last year.
Photo by Wayne Crick
Distance coach at Delta High School, J.B. Lopez, is excited to have such talented runners as the Whitings on this year’s roster. Lopez is the Panthers’ head cross country coach and has a majority of his track and field athletes in cross country.
Cleo actually ran hurdles in the seventh grade. Both girls agreed they never stood out in middle school and the track experience was okay.
A committment to running has produced unique results for the Whitings, and they have built a reputation as top-notch runners in both the cross country and track and field arenas.
In the early part of their high school running careers, Clarissa and Cleo began honing their skills as distance runners. They owe most of their success to Lopez who shared a philosophy and methodology of running that suited their taste. It's a trait of consistency Lopez shares with everyone. Most of Lopez's runners have been with him in cross country and track and field. "We know our kids because of that," noted Lopez.
When asked how the Whiting sisters compare to other athletes that have gone before them, Lopez was quick to share his thoughts. "Phaelen French was the best I could remember because she spent four years in cross country with state competition under her belt. Phaelen did more than just run, making her stand out. But the Whitings are unique in their own way with a phenomenol work ethic putting them in the same category as French."
Clarissa, the older of the two sisters by one minute, is described by Lopez as possibly the more dominant. "She is our starter on the 4 x 800 because she is the one who is more ready to go and needs to go first. Cleo finishes for us because she is patient, fierce, and so competitive with a superb drive," says Lopez. Mackennea Broyles and Kyla Ownbey compliment the Whiting sisters and together the team has broken the school, and a Cedaredge Invitational record, with a time of 10:13 plus. On April 7, the team ran a 10:15 without anyone pushing them or their time might well have been lower.
The two girls don't over eat and aren't big fans of large portions of meats. The meal on the night before breaking the Cedaredge Meet record was rice pudding. They prefer foods with carbohydrates and eat fruit. Nuts, peanut butter, bananas, and hard boiled eggs were mentioned as being perfect.
Lopez claims the twins are inseparable when it comes to saying who is more coachable. "Tell them what they need to do and they'll do it." Before a half marathon last year, the two runners wanted to know what it would be like to run farther than they had been used to. Plans were made to participate in the race and Lopez was asked what he thought their times would be. Lopez's response was between an hour and 40 minutes and an hour and 45. The two runners finished near the hour and 43 minute mark.
When they both compete in a race, they are often not far from each other at any point of the race. There is some planning involved prior to a meet with thought given to who is in the meet that week and what strategy is best for success. Mostly the two are without plans as to whom will win a race. "Just enjoy it and see what comes," says Clarissa.
Both are hoping to qualify for state in the 1600 and 3200m races. With three days of competition at state, there is enough time to recuperate between those two races and the 3200m relay.
Academically, both are honor roll students who believe in getting homework done as quickly as possible without procrastination.
To sum them up, a quote from Clarissa, (or was it Cleo?), simply states "Competence builds confidence." It's clear the two student athletes have both competence and an abundance of confidence.