Girls track & field

Sister act: Sibling rivalries dot the track and field family

2011-05-09T22:00:00Z 2011-05-10T02:55:03Z Sister act: Sibling rivalries dot the track and field familyBy Josh Weinfuss josh.weinfuss@nwi.com, (219) 933-3374 nwitimes.com

At home, their conversation isn't full of smack talk.

They're not mean to each other. They don't fight. And they don't make predictions.

What fun is this sibling rivalry?

North Newton's Sarah and Bethany West aren't the type to jaw at each other from across the dinner table. The sisters would rather talk about how they cut their times or increased their distances.

The Wests are among a handful of sisters who compete together in track and field around Lake County, and they'd rather embrace their moments together instead of letting their times get in between them.

But don't let Sarah, a senior, or Beth, a sophomore, fool you. They're still trying to beat the other, and it's easy for them to try as both run the same events: the 100 meters, 200, 400 relay and the long jump.

"Sarah's a little quicker but Bethany pushes her," North Newton coach Tim Loughmiller said. "It's one of those things where you're the older sister, you don't want your younger sister to beat you."

He's right about that.

As the Spartans' top two sprinters, Bethany is usually right on Sarah's heels, and it's making the senior work harder. Bethany has watched her older sister turn up her training this season, but it's also affected Bethany, as well. She's lowered her times simply by training with Sarah.

With sectionals on the horizon, Bethany has yet to overtake her older sister. Sarah won the 100 at a tri-meet April 28 in 14.37 seconds, and Bethany was right behind in second in 14.81.

In Lowell, Carissa Thiel is reminded every day when she walks into the field house, where the record boards honoring her older sisters are hard for the Red Devils' senior to ignore. She doesn't let the accomplishments of Rachel and Nicole Thiel bother her, instead embracing her sisters' records. Rachel owns the school shot and discus records, and was the 2006 state shot put champion. Nicole is the Lowell record holder in the pole vault.

"People always ask if I'm going to be up there (on the record board), but it doesn't look good," Carissa said with a laugh. "Volleyball has always been my main sport, so I haven't felt the competition with track."

Having sisters involved in the same sport led to a friendly rivalry. Whenever Rachel came home from Marquette, where she also threw the shot put, she attended Carissa's meets and started coaching her.

"Sometimes your mindset isn't right to be helped at a meet," Carissa said. "(But) her help has definitely helped.

"If anyone can give you criticism that can tear you down, it's your family, and then they'll be right there to give you compliments to build you right back up."

Lowell coach Scott Coil said there's one primary difference between the sister Carissa is most compared to: While Rachel is more fundamentally sound, Carissa is mentally stronger, a compliment Carissa embraced.

But if she finishes her career without breaking any records, the senior won't be the only Thiel not in the history books.

"I really won't feel bad if I'm not on the record board because my older brother (Garrett) isn't, so we're kinda on the same field," Carissa said with a chuckle.

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