The Great Northern League All-Sports Trophy is going to Cheney.
If there were an All-Sports Trophy for Cheney, it would have to go to the Stralser family.
Emily and Michael Stralser are days from graduating with 23 seasons of Blackhawks sports between the twins.
“I didn’t do cross country my freshman year,” Michael said. “My sister told me I should have. She said it was the most fun year she had, running with our older brother (Daniel).”
Other than that blip, the Stralsers have been year-round fixtures in Cheney uniforms. Emily is the only three-sport female in the Class of 2010 and Michael is one of just seven guys.
But before the graduation processional the Stralsers have a slight detour – the State 2A track meet in Tacoma, which begins today.
Michael is making his first trip as a participant, qualifying in both hurdle races and two relays. Emily, in her fourth trip, is limited to a relay because of an injury, a bittersweet pill for last year’s fourth-place finisher in the 100-meter hurdles. She had the best 2A time for most of this season.
“She’s got more races to run,” said her father, Tom.
Tom said he could kick himself for not diagnosing her injury earlier, since he is also the Blackhawks’ girls track coach.
The coaching adds a unique twist to the family dynamics.
“It’s been a wonderful experience for me, watching them grow, watching them mature, watching them really compete, watching them become mentally and physically tough,” Tom said.
“They’re good athletes, but they’re great students. Our ride to school is fun, our ride home is fun. We talk, try to figure things out, shoot the poop.”
The family has been on the run forever. Daniel, three years older, ran cross country and track and the twins followed suit.
“They were – make that are – real active kids,” said their mother, Theresa. “They did summer track and we did camps as a family. The nice thing about (running) is it’s girls and boys together. Basketball is different, but we’re lucky with cell phones so we really did not miss anything.”
If Theresa had a complaint, it’s that they work too hard.
“They’re very self-motivated,” she said. “Sometimes I would tell them to forget homework and go to bed, but they always did their homework.”
“I’m kind of used to it,” Emily said. “I’m incredibly busy, but I don’t know anything different.”
Michael has a 3.8 grade-point average and Emily is at 3.7.
“There are not a whole lot of breaks when you do sports,” Michael said. “It’s difficult, but you can do it if you put your mind to it.”
“He is a sponge,” Emily said. “I guess I didn’t inherit that gene.”
As the state-qualifying district meet unfolded last week, Theresa said her most memorable moment with Emily was her reaction after a fast hurdles race last year. Michael’s was sure to come when he qualified for state.
But the memory Theresa will cherish the most was when Emily dropped out of a recent race after clearing just one hurdle. As she went to check on her daughter, she saw her being consoled in the arms of her brother.
“They’re as tight as twins. They’re good friends,” Theresa said. “They’re not going to be together next year. I’m glad they sought their own goals.”
Emily plans to run at Carroll College and Michael is bound for Western Washington.
For the moment, neither is looking beyond their next race. Both admit it can be a struggle to focus on their events while the other competes.
“You hope your positive energy gets through, but it’s bad if you’re not thinking about your race,” Michael said.
Tom prefers being on the field for track rather than be a spectator for other sports, although that’s a double-edged sword.
“I’ve enjoyed being in the stands and watching basketball, watching them run cross country,” he said. “In basketball (Theresa) is always poking me in the side to keep my mouth shut. No, not really.
“The hardest is watching them run their hurdle races because so many things can go wrong, and knowing what I know about track and field, I know a lot more about that than my rudimentary knowledge of basketball.”