The Sibling Gift - The McElaney Twins Will Compete At NXN

Throughout all of the people you'll meet in your lifetime, siblings are perhaps the one's you'll know most of your life. That might even be amplified with twins.

The Southlake Carroll cross country program has had several sets of family members and siblings come through their program. Many of them matriculate at different times, some do overlapping stints, and there are some who do all of their time together, which is the case for the McElaney twins.

Katherine McElaney and Tim McElaney have come up through the Carroll program together, which has been a difficult, some times strange, and yet rewarding experiences.

Being twins, the McElaney's have experienced a lot with one another -- like their first day in the world, the first day of school, and even aspiring sports moments.

Those sports moments have happened and are still happening at Carroll for the twins. They will be competing at the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) this weekend in Portland, Oregon. NXN is the annual meet that decides the high school cross country team national champion.

- - -

With contributions from the McElaney twins, both the Carroll girls and the Carroll boys will be competing and have a shot at winning a team national title.

At the beginning of every season, hundreds of young runners compete in the Carroll program and hope to make their way onto the varsity squads, which is no easy accomplishment. Both Katherine and Tim made their varsity debuts last year as juniors and continued their varsity level running as seniors. This season, Tim ran a 15:20.96 PR and was 23rd at the UIL State meet. Katherine ran a 17:56.90 PR and was ninth at the state meet.

That put them in position to help their respective squads run throughout the state and across the country to strive to help achieve their team's best successes. Last year, Tim's Carroll boys were able to run to district and regional championships. They then went on to finish second at the state meet and followed that up by qualifying for NXN last season. 

Katherine's Carroll girls team also did well, but not as well as her brother's team. The Carroll girls were second at district, fourth at state, and then finished third at the Nike Cross Regionals South (NXR South) meet, which did not earn them a trip to last year's national championships.

Photo Credit: Lisa McElaney

With one twin celebrating their accomplishments of winning district titles, a state meet trophy, and traveling to Nike Headquarters, it left the other experiencing less success and watching the other sibling's celebrations and joy.

- - -

This year has been a different story! There was more success and accomplishments for both Tim's Carroll boys and Katherine's Carroll girls. The Carroll boys won their district meet once again, but they went steps further by adding a regional championship and then won the program's first state championship in four years. Tim's group followed that up with a NXR South win, earning themselves a trip back out to Portland.

Unsatisfied with last year's results, the Carroll girls team made a big turn around. They earned a lot of undeniable accolades. They won this year's district and regional meets, which set them up for the Texas state championships where they won what had eluded them ever since their last cross country state title, back in 2013.

"They love the sport, the team, and the camaraderie it brings to them.  Coach Leonard has been very inspirational to them and quite a mentor for their efforts." 

Joe McElaney

Since 2013, several girls teams and programs have risen to the top of Texas' largest division and won state titles causing Carroll, one of the most successful programs in state history to watch. But, Katherine's group would do the celebrating this year as they ended the five year drought by dominating the state meet. They also made all things right in the universe by placing second at the NXR South championships and earning their way back to NXN the right to challenge for the national title in Portland.

This weekend will end a long season of success and elation for the siblings who have finally been able to celebrate -- together. The twins have risen through the ranks of the Carroll program -- together. They have experienced the both highs and the challenges of competing at a national powerhouse program and at a high level -- together. Their father, Joe McElaney said, "They love the sport, the team, and the camaraderie it brings to them. Coach Leonard has been very inspirational to them and quite a mentor for their efforts."

Carroll head coach, Justin Leonard and the Carroll coaching staff have guided both of the teams back to the top of the state as both teams won UIL 6A state championships this year and now they both will challenge for the top spot in the country. Only six other high schools in the nation can boast that both of their programs are amongst this year's top 22 teams in the country.

This is the 11th time in Carroll's program history to accomplish having both the girls and boys teams qualify for NXN in the same season. Only Fayetteville-Manlius (NY) has done it more times (12). There will no doubt be an overwhelming sense of elation and joy for the Carroll program, getting to go through the NXN experience together with teammates, classmates, and friends.

With the exception of a few relationships, sibling relationships last longer than any other relationship in someones life. The twins will get to add one more experience with their teammates, that's a gift to and for the Carroll program. But, they'll also get to add another experience to their life long sibling relationship and bond by competing at the highest point in their sport -- together. That's a sibling gift.