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Oh Brother: Sibley Twins Enjoy Running Rivalry On The Cross Country Course



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In cross country there is competition even among teammates, as well as support within the races, as runners with similar times work off each other to improve and encourage along the way. When it comes to siblings, there often is no shortage of this sort of competitive edge and, likewise, lots of encouragement that often can be found in the relationship.

So when twins Brian and Stephen Sibley ended up on the same course, running for the Nutmeg Striders several years ago, there was bound to be an added element of fun.

Fast forward to their freshman year at Newtown High School in the fall of 2021 when there was a trio of Sibleys in the Nighthawk cross country fold (older brother Daniel was a senior; he graduated in the spring of 2022). Cross country genes run in this family. The Sibley trio followed in the footsteps of their father, Rob Sibley (director of planning and land use for Newtown), who ran for Joel Barlow of Redding in the middle 1980s.

This past fall campaign saw the twins’ rivalry heat up as Brian and Stephen gave each other a run for their money in races. Stephen qualified for State Championships in each of his first three years on the team. This year, Brian has closed the gap on his brother and qualified for states for the first time. Early in the season, in fact, Brian finished ahead of his brother for the first time, setting the tone for a back-and-forth campaign.

“And so it began. Some good-natured ribbing from coach to athlete, which turned athlete to athlete,” Coach Carl Strait said. “It became a talking point when we would talk about an upcoming race or workout — who was going to be the faster Sibley that week?

“All season long it has been a contest. Who will beat who?” added Strait, whose team wrapped up its fall campaign earlier in November.

“He’s catching up,” said Stephen, adding that it is great to have this added motivation when he is running. “It’s a fun little sibling rivalry.”

“It makes it a little more competitive. It’s really gone back and forth this season,” Brian added.

In the Class L State meet, Stephen came in 59th in a time of 19:09 and Brian finished 80th in 19:47. The Nighthawk twins have one more year to enjoy cross country, their team, and this competitive yet supportive rivalry.

Both runners enjoy their competitions and the preparation that goes into races. They are also appreciative of their older brother introducing them to the sport.

“My favorite part about running is the exercise I get and seeing how fast I can be at the end of a season compared to the start of the season,” Stephen said. “My older brother is the reason I started running. It was fun to have his race times be a goal for me freshman year, and then past that as a threshold for improvement. The twin rivalry helps me push to obtain those goals.”

Following in the path of Daniel helped Brian and Stephen not only with their competitive side but also in setting in with the NHS program.

“It has really set a goal for my brother and I to be as fast/faster than him as long as he’s been running but competition aside it was great to have all the information of the team and the meets well in advance after joining and having them exceed expectations,” Stephen said.

As for the twins’ competitiveness, it goes beyond the cross country course.

“The sibling rivalry will really follow us anywhere but is more pulled out when trying to earn validation or win an argument within the family/friend group,” Stephen added. “During practices, yes, we will hand each other a tip or two every now and then even if we know it will benefit the other.”

My favorite part about running is the way it improves me physically and mentally. Running cross country is as much a team sport as it is an individual one and being able to run the season working on yourself and getting to know the team more is really fun,” Stephen said.

Strait is pleased to be a part of motivating the Sibleys and, even more so, having them on his team.

“I’m happy for both of them. Such nice kids — great family,” Newtown’s coach said.

Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at andyh@thebee.com.

Twins Stephen and Brian Sibley have had an enjoyable rivalry on the cross country course. —Bee Photo, Hutchison
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