The 39-member strong, 2017 Westby Area High School Cross-Country Team was blessed with six sets of siblings; Derek and Kelsie Helgerson (juniors); Roman and Grace Hebel (senior and freshman); Ryla and Conor Vatland (senior and sophomore); Sarah and Allie Weninger (junior and freshman); Sydney and Kade Sherry (senior and junior); and Kin and Levi Hamilton (senior and freshman).
Although it is not unusual for siblings to participate in the same sports, Westby Coaches Brian Huebner and Dave Nelson said it is special and unusual to have so many siblings on the team in a single year.
The coaches hope all the kids had a wonderful time being part of the program and continue to participate in running whether they are just entering the program or ending their careers.
Below are comments each of the athletes made in regards to being on a team with their siblings.
Derek Helgerson—One of the things that was noticeable about being in cross country with Kelsie was that we always wanted to depart to practice at different times. She would always be ready significantly quicker than me, pushing me to get going. This has made me a better person because I learned to work with her schedule as well as my own. Also I think we both enjoyed sharing our thoughts about practices and races together because we understood each other very well. Lastly, I always knew that there would be at least one person cheering for me which was her.
Kelsie Helgerson—Running with my twin was definitely a pleasure to say the least. We are both very competitive so we would see who can get better placing in our respective races. We get to compare our workouts and we will understand what the other is talking about. Always having someone to drive to and from practices with was always really nice, too.
Roman Hebel—It’s like having support but without them needing to say anything.
Grace Hebel—He’s always there when I need him to be
Ryla Vatland—It’s nice to motivate each other on the CC course and also at home. We have a strong bond.
Conor Vatland—Being new to cross country, it’s nice to have a sister that’s equally dedicated to the sport and helps me along the way.
Alli Weninger-It pushed me to go harder in the race.
Sarah Weninger-It motivated me to be better and to push harder in practice and races.
Sydney Sherry—Kade and I have always been pretty competitive when we run. During the summer, we’ll sometimes run together and we always push the pace, trying to see who will be the first to break. We always tease each other, but when it’s time to race, we cheer each other on, screaming as loud as we possibly can.
Kade Sherry—Competition with my sister has always pushed me hard, whether it be on the cross country course or the classroom.
Kin Hamilton-Levi runs harder than he should to keep up with me, but it made running more entertaining for me. The thing I like most about cross-country is that whether you are the first one to cross the finish line or the last, your bodies still feel the same kind of exhaustion at the end, yet a feeling of exhilaration just knowing you made it.
Levi Hamilton – I will miss running with Kin. We stuck together and pushed each other.