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Healthy Sibling Rivalry

W-L cross-country rookies Isabel Amend and Helen Amend place second, fourth, respectively, at National District meet

Isabel Amend was cut from the junior varsity basketball team during her sophomore year at Washington-Lee. While athletes are taught to face their failures, Amend’s decision to "run" from hers proved prosperous.

Amend tried indoor track during the 2009-10 season and qualified for the state meet, an achievement she would repeat during the outdoor track campaign in the spring.

"I just got into running," Amend said.

Now a junior, Amend is competing in cross country for the first time and experiencing similar success. Her second-place finish at the National District championships helped the Generals win the team title on Oct. 28 at Burke Lake Park. W-L finished nine points ahead of second-place Yorktown and each of the Generals’ harriers placed in the top 20.

"It’s the best team performance I’ve seen from a Washington-Lee team," fourth-year head coach Jeff McCarthy said. "They definitely deserved to win it."

Amend’s time of 18 minutes, 46 seconds was strong for a first-year harrier, but she wasn’t the only W-L rookie making an impact at districts. Her twin sister, Helen Amend, finished fourth with a time of 19:21. Isabel Amend convinced Helen to give running a chance and the two have pushed each other to succeed.

"It’s been a learning experience for them, but they’re obviously very talented," McCarthy said. "They both ran very good races today and they’re both real tough competitors. They’re not only talented, but they really want to win. A second place and a fourth place: that was huge. …

"I was very excited when I knew [Isabel Amend] was coming [to run cross country]. Everything that she had told us about her sister was that her sister was just as fast, just as much of a competitor and that certainly turned out to be true. Even though they hadn’t run cross country before, we knew before the season had started that they would be big contributors to the team."

On Oct. 28, the Amends used their talent and competitive nature to help W-L defeat the rest of the National District. To get that point, the twins focused on beating each other.

"When we’re doing speed work on the track, like doing 200s and 400s and thresholds, I just want to kick her butt," Isabel Amend said of her sister. "It’s so helpful just having that one person that you want to pass."

Family bragging rights are on the line when the Amends compete against one another. But that doesn’t mean Isabel and Helen aren’t trying to help each other, as well. During the early stages of a race, the sisters will sometimes talk to one another, providing motivation for the long haul.

"It’s always competitive," Helen Amend said, "but at the end of the day we know that we run with each other and it helps us more than it harms us."

Annika MacEwen (20:24) finished 10th at districts for W-L. Taylor Leonard (20:41) was 13th and Jasmine Herndon (21:30) finished 20th. The Generals will compete at the Northern Region meet on Nov. 4 at Burke Lake Park with an opportunity to qualify for the Nov. 13 state meet.

The Amends are hoping for two more chances to run past opponents. Until then, they’ll try to run past each other.

"They certainly have what I would describe as a healthy sibling rivalry," McCarthy said. "They both work very hard in workouts but they’re both very supportive of each other and that not always the case with siblings. Their relationship is very healthy and it probably results in both of them being better runners, probably better students, probably better at everything."