Mansfield’s girls cross country teams won their fourth meet in a row and the boys recently picked up a team title at the Burleson Centennial meet, but scrolling through the results had some redundancy.
In the boys division at Burleson Centennial, fourth and fifth places were both listed as Sterling, while the girls results sheet showed third and fourth places as Williams.
Throughout this season, finish-line workers will need to pay attention to the bib numbers.
Ryan and Mark Sterling and Jenisse and Alessia Williams are two of three sets of twins running for the Tigers’ teams this fall.
Another set of twins, Noah and Nathan Butler, are competing for the JV squad at Mansfield.
Fortunately for the finish line workers, the varsity sets of twins aren’t identical, but fraternal.
The Butler twins are an identical set.
The Sterlings are seniors, while the Williams are juniors, as are the Butlers. So, there will be lots of double-takes for a few years.
Ryan, the oldest by 13 minutes, the fourth-place finisher at Burleson Centennial, also runs the 1600m, 800m and some 4x400 relays during track season while Mark gravitates to the longer distances in spring, running the 1600m and 3200m.
While the Tigers were second as a team last year in district, Ryan said his best time was at regionals during his sophomore year, running a 16:39 5K.
Mark is continuing to improve his times and has a PR of 17:30 this year.
“There used to be a lot of separation between us but both of us have improved,” said Ryan. “We give each other motivation during the races.
The Sterlings have been doing many things together since they were young and both thought trying out the sport of cross country in seventh grade was something of interest.
“We tend to gravitate toward the same things,” Ryan said, “but we really don’t look much alike.”
While they have many classes together and share many of the same interests, many fellow students take half the year before learning Ryan and Mark are brothers, Mark said.
The Sterlings said they met the Williams twins for the first time in middle school and seems to have an immediate connection.
“There’s a year difference between us and we didn’t really talk until high school,” Mark said. “But we got along very well and had an almost instant friendship.”
Training for Ryan and Mark is more of a team activity, the brothers said. They don’t consider their workouts as a brotherly activity, but rather a team endeavor.
“We both have our own goals for our times,” Mark said. “The end goal is to be district champs and maybe even a trip to state at the end of the season.”
Championships aren’t far off from the Williams’ goals, either.
Alessia was the district champion in cross country last year.
But Jenisse is having a strong season thus far, finishing ahead of her twin in most events.
“I’m having a better year than her this year,” Jenisse said, “but my best time is not as good as her best from last year.”
It was Jenisse that took third at Burleson Centennial, with her sister close behind.
Alessia, the eldest by 60 seconds, admits she is overcoming an earlier injury and is about five weeks behind in her training.
Jenisse was able to put in a lot of mileage during the summer which has helped close the gap in the twins’ times. She said she has also focused on the quality of her runs and keeping a better pace.
“We normally come in close together but before, it wasn’t that close,” Alessia said.
Alessia also holds the girls school record for cross country times at 18:37.
Jenisse is working to trim her PR of 19:30.
Like the Sterlings, the Williams twins don’t feel they look alike but also find similar preferences in many areas.
Being one of three sets of twins working out for Mansfield is a bit out of the ordinary and it’s acknowledged by the girls.
“It’s a funny coincidence,” said Jenisse. “It is definitely out of the ordinary.”
In addition to both looking to improve their times, Jenisse and Alessia said they hope to improve in the team finish at regionals.