What began as a trial curiosity with distance running in the eighth grade has transformed into a passion for Batavia juniors and twin brothers Griffin and Hunter Stith.
“I did distance for the first time in the eighth grade and did pretty well, so I just kept with it,” Hunter said.
As is the case with many siblings, Griffin saw Hunter try something new and wanted to try his hand it at it as well. Once the identical twins began running, the upperclassmen at Batavia took the pair under their wing and set them on the path that they are still on today.
As freshman, Hunter held the upper hand as far as times went, but it wasn’t long before Griffin’s competitive instinct kicked in and he was closing in on his brother’s times.
“Hunter dominated distance running their freshman year,” the twins’ father, Colin Stith, said. “Then their sophomore year, Griffin made the most improvement and (closed the gap from) 45 seconds or a minute to within five or 10 seconds either way.”
Even though the pair considers themselves to be pretty competitive with one another, their running styles are very similar.
“(Our styles) are basically the same,” Hunter said. “We’re with each other pretty much all the way through the race.”
The brothers have been loyal to their craft over the past few years, working hard both in and out of season.
Although their junior season is just beginning, the Stiths have been waking up early for moths to go for a daily run. They have also been doing two-a-days lately to prepare for the season, running both in the mornings and the evenings.
Voted co-captains as juniors, the Stiths are the rare combination of über competitive, yet supportive.
“Individually, they both are great athletes in that they love to compete, but they’re not to the point that they hate everybody that they go against,” Batavia cross-country coach Dona Braswell said. “They work very hard and are very dedicated, yet they are very supportive and great leaders. They have fun, but when it’s time to compete, they’re very focused and able to run hard.”
Braswell said that the pair are well aware of what the other is doing and keep track of who’s beat whom in the each race.
With an eye on the future, both Griffin and Hunter have set goals for themselves, but nothing too outlandish, something Braswell finds refreshing and encouraging.
“The fascinating thing about them, before they run a race, they talk about what time they want to run and it’s a reasonable expectation,” she explained. “It’s not some long shot or Olympic-level time, they are reasonable, yet challenging, like 15 seconds faster. And they are able to hit those times.”
Setting and achieving those goals has allowed the twins to qualify for regionals as individuals the past two seasons, but this year as captains, they would like to get the team to qualify.
Both Griffin and Hunter want to break the 17-minute barrier by season’s end in hopes of qualifying for the state meet and perhaps even getting some early interest from some colleges.
While, there is little doubt among those that know the pair that they will be able to reach their goals, Griffin and Hunter are captains first and you better believe the will do everything they can to get their squad to the regional meet.