Taylors eager to double their haul

LHS twins seeking repeat golds at state meet

LAWRENCE HIGH TWIN SISTERS KRISTINA TAYLOR, LEFT, and Jennifer Taylor will each compete in three events at this weekend's Class 6A state track meet in Wichita.

At first glance, it’s difficult to distinguish any differences between Kristina and Jennifer Taylor.

Ask the twin sisters if there are any secret clues, and Jennifer points to the small birthmark on her upper left leg, while Kristina offers up their track spikes are different colors.

Ask Lawrence High track and field coach Jack Hood for guidance, and he singles out the extra piercing in Kristina’s left ear, quickly adding, “At meets, ’cause they can’t wear earrings, I’m in trouble.”

Unfortunately for LHS opponents, not even on-track performances offer much hope. True, by all accounts, Kristina is a little better sprinter, while Jennifer has a slight edge in keeping the pace during middle-distance events. But it’s not as if either one is having much trouble dusting the competition.

The talented twosome has combined to qualify in four events at this weekend’s Class 6A state meet at Cessna Stadium in Wichita, a pair of dependable point producers who have made LHS one of the favorites to bring home this year’s girls state championship.

“They’re exactly what you want out of a track kid,” said Hood, who inherited the talented juniors this spring after taking over the LHS boys and girls programs from the departed Scott Stidham. “They compete in the classroom, they compete at practice and they compete at meets. They’re exactly what you want out of a Lawrence High Lion.”

For the first time in a long time, the Taylors won’t actually compete head-to-head this weekend. Kristina Taylor qualified in the 400 meters, earning the fifth seed in a field of 16 after clocking 58.44 seconds at last Friday’s 6A regional at the Olathe District Activity Center. Meanwhile, Jennifer Taylor claimed a spot in the 800 as the sixth seed after a 2:22.28 effort at the regional meet.

However, perhaps fittingly, their biggest impact is likely to come in two events that will have opponents and spectators alike seeing double. Each is slated to run legs on the Lions’ 4×800 relay team – which they helped win last year’s state title and qualify as this year’s top seed – as well as the 4×400 relay team, seeded third.

It’s those team-centered disciplines that have the Taylors most excited about their return trip to Wichita.

“At the beginning of the year, I thought we had no chance (in the team race),” said Jennifer Taylor following Wednesday’s workout at LHS. “Around regionals, everybody’s times really started improving.”

Before she could finish, Kristina Taylor chimed in: “We’re in the race now. It’s a really good feeling.”

Ah yes, the whole twins-finishing-one-another’s-sentences routine. Such stereotypes have been familiar territory for the self-described best friends not only on the track circuit – which they first embraced as sixth-graders with a gentle push from their parents – but in all walks of life.

“All our friends ask if we can read each other’s minds or finish each other sentences,” Kristina said.

“It’s not like that at all,” Jennifer Taylor added – this time waiting until her sister got the final word out.

And how about pulling the fabled twins switcheroo, perhaps on an unsuspecting teacher, coach, or even a date?

“We really don’t like fooling people, because we try to be our own persons,” Kristina Taylor said.

Thus, the small differences in footwear and upper-ear accessories – enough to flash an individual persona, yet not too noticeable to distract from the special bond that only two people sharing identical DNA can truly understand.

A bond that always seems to win out in the end.

“While putting together our rooms list (for state), I asked them if they wanted to room with somebody else, because they’ve probably shared a room their entire life,” said Hood with a laugh. “They were like, ‘No! We want to room together.’

“It’s pretty special when one of them is competing in an individual event, (the other is) right down there just screaming and yelling.

“They’re as good of friends as two kids can be.”