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Born to run: Twins Follow in Their Mothers Footsteps

by Olivia Kolterman | Class of 2018 | Dec. 12, 2017

   Freshman cross country runners Jackson and Sophie Selenke remember their first race as kindergartens not so fondly. “I hated the race so much. It was so hard!” Sophie said. Jackson agreed:  “My dad even had to carry me!” In that first race Sophie got 2nd... from the last. “At the time, I was pretty upset, but now when I look back, I realize I did pretty good for my age,” said Sophie. Since that first race, Sophie has definitely improved. 


   She’s been a part of two junior high conference championship teams and was a conference medalist as an 8th grader. Sophie said she felt some pressure to join cross country as a 7th grader, “There is some pressure because obviously, she IS the coach.” But today it’s 100% Sophie’s choice.


   “I wouldn’t choose not to do it. I like that feeling of accomplishment. I always thought it would be hard but now that I’m on it, it’s nice because I know I can do it. I can’t even think of stopping.”  Despite her honors and commitment, Sophie continues to doubt herself. “Sometimes I feel like I’m not good enough for the ‘Selenke’ reputation,” admits Sophie, whose mother is a 13-time state qualifying cross country coach, Sherri Selenke. Mother and coach believes “the Selenke name” makes no difference.


   “I do have expectations for them, but they aren’t any different from what I expect from the other runners: Do your best, be proud of your best and have fun being with your teammates,” said Sherri. Despite Sophie’s mom repeatedly telling her she's

happy as long as Sophie tries her best at each race. Sophie admits the pressure she feels is self-induced. This self-proclaimed, driven perfectionist said, despite the constant reassurance she gets from her mom, she feels she falls short.


   Sophie knows this perspective differs greatly from her twin’s. “Jackson is so laid back. He doesn’t care what others think,” said Sophie. “[On the other hand], I care way too much about what others think.” This comes as no surprise to their mom, as she has seen them differ since the day they were born.


   “Their personalities couldn’t be more different,” agreed Sherri. “Sophie has certain expectations for herself. She strives for perfection with her running and academics, while Jackson is more of an easy going, worry free, just get-it-done type.” While many may view Sophie’s personality as the one key for success in this ever competitive sport, Coach Sherri recognizes Jackson’s as an asset as well. “Jackson’s strength lies in his ability to not over think. He doesn’t get too worried about racing, he just tries to improve by being aware of who he’s racing and tries to beat someone he’s raced before,” said Sherri.


   Despite both being strong competitors, they are first and foremost family. The twins don’t compete against each other but support one another, and that makes for a happy home. The family often goes on three to five mile runs on the weekend and during off season just for enjoyment. They clearly are cross country runners in and off season, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s all we know,” said Sophie. “It’s just what we do.”

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