Sisters Kaitlin, left, and Abbie Hunt lead the Monmouth distance team. (Adam Robinson/Sun Journal)
Kaitlin and Abbie Hunt can usually be seen running, stretching, and competing side by side at Monmouth track and field practices.
While teammates, they are still siblings, and neither like to lose to the other.
“We always do our active stretches and we run around in a circle and do plyometrics, and I always want to beat her even though it doesn’t count for anything,” Kaitlin said.
“She always wants to win and sometimes I just say, ‘Whatever,’” Abbie added.
The two runners, Kaitlin a sophomore and Abbie in her final high school season, are constantly around each other.
“We do everything together,” they said in unison.
Monmouth head coach Tom Menendez notices that.
“We were doing a workout today and they were running in sync,” Menendez said. “Same pace, same stride, so physically they aren’t mirror images but they are pretty close.”
Kaitlin and Abbie finished first and second, respectively, in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, respectively, at the Mountain Valley Conference championships last week. In the 1,600, they ran stride-for-stride the entire race, but Kaitlin had a little more left at the finish line. Abbie bested her best 3,200-meter time by 50 seconds and her 1,600-meter time by 16 seconds.
Both sisters also were on Monmouth’s winning 4×800-meter relay team.
“I wanted to stay up with Kaitlin but my legs were kind of tired because I PR’d in my 4×800, so I was kind of dead from that,” Abbie said. “It didn’t really bother me that she beat me in that. I got my PR in that because I got under six minutes, finally. So I was happy with that.”
While the sisters are all smiles this season, Menendez remembers a time that the two “twins,” as he calls them, weren’t always the tightest on the track.
“Her and Abbie last year, she was at odds,” Menendez said. “This year she was very close and did a lot of training runs together. They’re a lot closer siblings this year. I think they’re trying to enjoy it more and she’s going to be lonely without her big sister. As freshmen, Kaitlin was trying to establish herself and Abbie was saying she was here long before you, but this year they know it is very special to run with your siblings.”
The twins nickname comes from Menendez wanting to “get their mind off older and younger” and lighten up the mood. It seems to have worked as this year the two have had a joyful competitiveness about them, with success following.
“I feel like Kaitlin is more competitive than I am, so she pumps me up a little bit and gives me some competition because I am older,” Abbie said.
“And I never want her to beat me,” Kaitlin interjected. “I always have to beat her. It always is joking, but it’s like I am smarter than her, she is smarter than me, it’s like that with everything.”
After a strong 2016-17 year, Kaitlin and Abbie jumped into this season’s cross country season with a new sense of purpose. Kaitlin was entering her second year at Monmouth with some experience under her belt, and Abbie was beginning her final season with something to prove to herself.
“Last year, I didn’t do as well as I wanted to,” Abbie said. “I feel like I didn’t push myself and I didn’t put in 100 percent effort in the meets and practices, especially, and so I didn’t run as fast. At the beginning of this season, before the season started, I was just like, ‘You know what, I am just going to train as hard as I can and do better and get some PRs.’ And that’s what I did. It is my senior year and it was my last chance to do well and I just wanted to be proud of myself and do well.”
Menendez helped the senior realize that it’s now or never.
“We talked about going out on a high note or be an average kid,” Menendez said. “We talked about the work you wanted to put in and she had some really good results.”
Last month, Menendez coached the race walkers for Team USA in China. He has some left over red, white, and blue merchandise which he has used to encourage great performances this Saturday at the Class C state meet.
“I would like to come in top three in the 2-mile,” Kaitlin said. “I don’t know if that’ll happen, but coach has some incentive for me. When he coached the team in China recently he said I could have a drawstring bag from that, so if I get top-three I get a bag.”
“Coach told me if I got top-four in any of my events he told me he would give me a United States rolling bag, so we will see,” Abbie said.
Kaitlin Hunt (1) and Abbie Hunt (2) compete in the 1,600-meter run during the Mountain Valley Conference championship meet at Lisbon High School last week. (Adam Robinson/Sun Journal)