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As junior Sienna Trice walked up to the starting line for her freshmen track meet, her eyes met with her junior high rival Mallory Short.
Short ran the 100-meter hurdles for Jefferson Junior High School and Trice for West Junior High School. When they crossed during the sprint, the two girls tried to focus on beating the other.
Now, the rivals are teammates for the Bruin track team.
“When I got to RB, it was really weird at first because she was my enemy and our coaches had always said to crush each other,” said Trice, who said the two traded first place at junior high tournaments. “There were a lot more events and opportunities at RB, and we both realized we had different strong points. We were able to still be competitive and still push each other but get along.”
Trice switched from the 100-meter hurdle to the 300-meter hurdle race since she came to RBHS and learned her strengths varied anywhere from 200 to 800 meter races. Short excelled at the 100 meter hurdles and the triple jump.
“They definitely push one another. I don’t believe they are ultra-competitive with one another as [Trice’s] favorite event, the 100 hurdles is her best and Sienna’s secondary event,” RBHS track coach Neal Blackburn said. “Sienna is better at the 300 hurdles which is her best and [Short’s] secondary. Having events that are the forte of one and not the other helps to create the mutual respect they have for the other.”
If she did take part in the 100-meter hurdles alongside Short, however, Trice is confident she would too “secure easy points for the team.” But because of her attention on her strengths for college recruitments, Trice is unsure if she will participate in the sprint this year.
“I want to focus more on the events that I am better at,” Trice said, “the ones that I know I can do well in college with.”
Although the two do not always run against each other, they still push each other to run harder and faster.
“We have different specialties,” Short said. “We’re both competitors. It’s hard to race against your friend and feel happy for yourself if you win or lose, but I’d say we both handle it pretty well. We want to do well, and we still want the other to do well.”
The two train together during hurdles but are able to focus more on their individual times than beating out the other. They often split up during practices to ensure their focus remains on themselves.
“We hardly see each other during practice,” Trice said. “The only real disadvantage to running the same kind of events is less one on one time with the coaches.”
Despite the negatives, Blackburn believes the competition provides positive motivation for the two.
“By nature we tend to compare ourselves with others, and when you have such highly competitive and talented young people as these two are, it can be a challenge to have them see the good in all things, even losing,” Blackburn said. “What makes my day is when they can both excel and achieve personal best times on the same day and exchange a high five at the end of the race. … That is when you know you have a good thing, and these two demonstrate that with one another.”
As any serious runner, each girl aims not only to make it to state but also to claim an individual championship. Both also see the other placing high at state in their respective events.
“My ultimate goal is to win state. I’ve been working really hard this preseason, running at indoor meets, so I think that will pay off,” Short said. “When I run with [Sienna], I’m constantly getting pushed, and she really motivates me to my full potential. I want to be the best I can be and having that extra pressure at practice makes all the difference.”
By Caraline Trecha