Monday, October 2, 2023

For twin track standouts, running is in the family

Nicole and Samantha Humphries are more than just sisters and teammates—they are best friends.

The Flower Mound high school twins are among the top distance runners in the state and were huge factors in helping the Lady Jags win a state title in cross country in 2021 as a team and medal individually four times at state in track and field earlier this year.

Coach Andrew Cook said the two sisters are similar in many ways, but also have their differences.

“Samantha brings a quiet confidence to the team that I feel helps keep the ladies focused on our goals,” Cook said. “Nicole is more of the extrovert and does a good job of making sure the girls are having fun.”

Nicole finished fourth overall at the state cross country meet individually in 2021, and brought home the bronze in the 1,600 meters at the state track and field meet.

The Flower Mound junior said that her sister, Samantha, had a lot to do with her success last season.

“Samantha and I have a very strong relationship on and off of the track,” Nicole said. “It’s honestly a huge blessing to have a training partner who is identical to you in almost every way. This helps a lot when strategizing during races because we know that we should be pretty close to each other.

“Whether it’s during a race or at practice, we push each other, encourage each other, and keep each other accountable.”

What makes matters even better for the Humphries sisters is that they do practically everything else together, as well.

They have the same interests, run in the same social circle and have almost identical schedules at school.

On many occasions, they have received identical test scores, and although they definitely push each other to be the best they can each be, Nicole said there is no jealousy or sibling rivalry.

“A common question that we get asked is if we are ever bothered by getting beat by the other,” Nicole said. “The answer is no. We want the best for each other and often consider each other’s victories as our own.”

The Humphries sisters are also mirror-image twins, meaning they are opposites in many ways as well.

Nicole is right-handed, for instance, while Samantha is left-handed.

A lot of times the two sisters will experience pain on opposite sides of the body, and Nicole said she is more right-brained, while Samantha is more left-brained.

Nicole said that her sister also brings a dimension to practices and meets that makes her indispensable.

“Having Samantha around just makes the sport more enjoyable, because she is a great teammate and keeps the mood light when the pressure is high,” Nicole said. “Samantha is funny, intelligent, determined, and loyal.”

The feelings are definitely mutual, as Samantha, who took the gold medal in the 800 meter and silvers in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters at the state track and field meet this past spring, said that her and Nicole’s bond is undeniable, and at times, perhaps a little too strong.

“We always have each other’s backs,” Samantha said. “Even in our house, when one of us is in an argument with our parents, we have a bad habit of jumping in and backing up the other despite the subject being irrelevant to one of us. We feed off each other’s energy, as we tend to cry when the other cries and feel happy when the other is.”

And that can happen even if there is not a shared experience or accomplishment.

This past summer, for example, Samantha was invited to the Brooks PR Race in Seattle, and Nicole did not receive an invitation, but as Samantha put it, “she still did everything in her power to cheer me on and make sure I was prepared,” for the competition.

“I admire how she genuinely wants the best for me, which makes me want to return the favor,” Samantha said. “She will make sacrifices for me if I have unfavorable circumstances or feel overwhelmed and stressed out. She also values my success just as much as she values her own. She is ecstatic for me if I run well, but she will also feel bad for me if she runs well and I don’t.”

Samantha said that she and Nicole have both had their fair share of injuries over the years, but having each other to lean on makes it so much easier for both of them to overcome any obstacles they face.

“We’ve been hurt together, but also have had to take some time off while the other one still runs,” Samantha said. “Sometimes those situations have made me feel lost and unmotivated, since I didn’t have someone with me like I was used to…we have also had periods where one of us was at a peak while the other one was at a low performance-wise, which makes comparison an issue.”

Samantha said that is when the two of them have to rely on each other to re-focus and push each other to get better.

The Humphries sisters helped the Flower Mound girls achieve the top ranking among 6A cross country programs in the state heading into the 2022 season according to the Cross Country Coaches Association of Texas, and they should both contend for individual state championships.

Cook said the goal for both girls this season is exactly that, to compete for individual state titles, but also to set a good example for their younger teammates, something the Flower Mound coach is quite confident the Humphries sisters are both capable of doing.

“The benefit of having two national level athletes on our team is that other girls are able to see each day what it takes to be that fast,” Cook said. “Samantha and Nicole are incredibly talented. However, they don’t just rely on that talent. They make sure they are also working hard to be at their best.”

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