When Lightning Strikes

Lightning seldom strikes the same spot twice, but at Mansfield Timberview High School, it has done just that. With their long braids flying behind them, sophomore runners and twins, Kaitlyn and Kristyn Williams, have been streaking their way past competitors all year, leaving their biggest rivals, the Lancaster Lady Tigers, in their dust.

The 2009 defending 4A track and field state champion Lady Wolves had a lot to prove this year, and perhaps none of the girls took that defense as seriously as the Williams sisters. As SportsDay’s 2009 Newcomer of the Year and defending state champion in the 400-meter and 800-meter, Kristyn plans on winning state again this year. Kaitlyn, who finished third at state last year in the 400-meter, also has her eyes on that championship finish line.

Sixteen-year-old Kristyn and Kaitlyn are fraternal twins, so while they both share sweet dispositions and humility about their athletic talents, there are slight differences between the two. “Our friends can tell us apart really well, but
people who don’t know us sometimes have a hard time,” said Kristyn, the eldest by 11 minutes. Both girls love to read and excel at mathematical subjects. With their mother, Jessie, and their head coach, Cinda Baer, making sure the girls keep on top of their studies, the twins have begun to think ahead to college.

However, they both admit that right now they are concentrating a bit more on the present. “I want to enjoy these last years of high school. It already seems like it’s going by so fast,” Kristyn added. While the girls’ school years may
feel like they are speeding by, time seems to stand still when they run, an activity in which they compete yearround.

After cross country, which begins with practices in August, and continues through to the regional meets in November, comes track, which lasts until the middle of May. Running is also a family affair, with the girls following in the lightning-fast footsteps of their older brother, 19-year-old Terry. “We started running when we were 9,” Kaitlyn shared. “My brother was running track and cross country in middle school. He had joined a summer team, and we joined as well. We ran every summer until we got to middle school and joined the school cross country team.” The girls prefer the excitement of shorter races to longer ones, but they look at cross country as a way to condition and train their bodies for track. Kaitlyn admitted, “I prefer to run long distances in cross country rather than track because you run different courses with different scenery. It’s not just the same monotonous run around a track.” This past year, the Lady Wolves’ cross country girls team proudly took the title of district champs, with both Kaitlyn and Kristyn turning in amazing times. Kristyn finished first at district, with her sister close behind in second place. Both girls went on to the regional and then state meets, where Kristyn posted the impressive time of 11:45 and Kaitlyn racing to a 12:06 finish.

From the beginning of their track season, the girls immediately began racking up the wins as well. As one of the four runners on the 4-by-400 meter relay, Kristyn and her team consistently came in first. Both girls ran in the 4-by-
800 meter relay, again bringing home first place at every meet. The sisters also blew their competition away in their 400-meter and 800-meter races. With so many wins, it is hard to believe the girls still get nervous before a run, especially when they have their race face set, but they laughingly admit to having a tiny case of the butterflies when it comes to the bigger meets. “It can be pretty nerve-racking before a race,” Kristyn said. “Once I get my lane assignment and I’m walking towards the track, I get calmer. I’m always definitely excited and nervous, but I feel this moment of calm when I’m getting in the blocks.” Kaitlyn performs what she calls a mental countdown before her race to keep herself focused.

These talented Timberview twins both have a fluid style of running, which is beautiful to watch. But they each have a different way of getting to the finish line. “I like to hang back in the beginning, find a pack to stay with and then try to move up,” Kaitlyn explained. Kristyn added, “I like to start faster than her. I try to stay more towards the front.” With Kristyn’s state win times of 53:88 in the 400-meter and 2:10:23 in the 800-meter (a new state record), and Kaitlyn’s 400-meter time of 55:00, the girls have definitely found winning formulas.

The girls give much credit to their family members, who come to their races to cheer from the stands, and their coaches, who encourage them to set goals and give their all to achieve them. Their biggest support system, however, is each other. “We push each other and motivate each other,” Kristyn said. Kaitlyn agreed, “I know she’s there for me, and I’m there for her.” Judging from their shared determination, this year’s state meet promises to be an exciting one.

Written by Jaime Ruark