HAMMOND | Kendria Huff emerged from the womb two minutes ahead of her brother.
Since then their relationship has ranged from adversarial to quintessential brother-sister camaraderie.
“When we were little we didn’t get along, but we’ve matured and don’t fight as much now,” Kendria said. “Growing up we moved a lot, and we were the only people we knew every time we moved, so we always had each other’s backs. Now we’re on the same track.”
Both sophomores are members of the Morton track teams, and tonight it’s time for Kendria to run the hurdles races and 400-meter relay at the Highland Sectional, where she hopes she’s first again.
The Huffs — the twins, senior brother Kendall and their mother — moved from South Holland to Hessville when the twins were in fourth grade.
The twins were born in Del Ray Beach, Fla., near Tampa, and moved with their mother to Chicago before they turned 3. They later lived in Harvey and other south suburbs. They have several half-brothers and half-sisters in Florida.
Kendria, always driven by competition with her brother and other neighborhood strangers, started track in sixth grade and began excelling and taking it very seriously after she ran with the Lakeshore Jets AAU club after her seventh-grade season. Since then she’s cajoled Kendric to join track even though Kendall left the sport.
This year Kendria broke out. Morton won its seventh consecutive Great Lakes Athletic Conference title last week, and Kendria broke a meet record in the 300-meter hurdles and won the 100 hurdles and long jump and ran on the victorious 400-meter relay. She’s seeded in the top six of both hurdles races for the sectional.
Her brother runs roughly the same events and won the GLAC 110 hurdles title.
There are several sets of twins on the track at local schools, including Munster and Lake Central, but these may be the only boy and girl twins who run the same events.
“It makes me really happy to see my sister be successful in something she really loves,” Kendric Huff said. “If I do well and she does well, we love to talk about it on the way home.”
Kendric often holds Kendria’s starting block, which has to be “BOB” — a name given to a particular starting apparatus in the Morton collection that has those letters inexplicably stuck on it.
“If I don’t have that block I’ll start freaking out,” Kendria said.
Kendria plays volleyball and participates in band, where she plays flute, oboe and cello. Joseph Haydn, Claude T. Smith or Frank Ticheli might be in her ears on the bus, when she rides up front alone in silence, a tradition that is just the tip of her superstition iceberg.
She wears the same headband, nail polish color and black or gray socks at every competition. If she sees a penny on the ground face up, she puts it in a sock for good luck.
“I try to focus on what I have to do,” Huff said. “I’m not really focused on other people.”
Despite exercise-induced asthma and a sometimes-tight knee, Huff never quits a workout with her sophomore-dominated team. According to coaches she never has a bad day or anything negative to say.
“She’s such a great all-around kid, highly motivated in the classroom and on the track,” Morton coach Marie Herring said. “She’s one of those kids that make you want to come to practice every day just because she’s out here and always smiling.”