Jager and Chiara Warner are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to high school age, but the brother-sister duo from Townsend share something in common when the Bulldogs’ track season begins next week:
Other runners will be gunning for them.
Jager, a senior, finished second at the Montana Class B state cross country meet, while his little sister, Chiara, placed first in her freshman year.
That puts the Warner family name on the map as two of the top distance runners heading into the spring season.
Both are ready to make the 2010 season a strong one as they eye other contenders from across the state.
“It’s scary because Heather, I know she’s right there with me,” said Chiara, speaking of Darby’s Heather Demorest. “I beat her in cross country and I want to beat her again in track.”
Demorest is a former state champ in both cross country and track’s distance events, but in 2009 ran nearly 30 seconds slower than the previous year at the state cross country meet and fell to third place. She’s still expected to be among the favored at the state track meet in May.
“I know I have to push myself every day, because I don’t know how she’s training, so you always look at it like she’s training harder than you,” Chiara said.
After four years in high school, Jager would like to break out of the shadow of Manhattan’s Mike Asay, who won both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races as a junior last year before beating Warner by 19 seconds at the state cross country meet.
“I’ve raced against him since seventh grade. I’ve never beaten him, so I’d like to do that this year,” said Jager, who has plans to join the National Guard after graduation.
While Chiara will have teammate Jordan Audet to train with — Audet placed third in last year’s 1,600 and 3,200 but is still catching up after breaking for basketball season — Jager has to push himself through many of his workouts as the top Bulldog.
For his coaches, Jager’s competitive and hard-working nature during runs is a bit of a surprise for the laid-back teen.
“(Jager and Chiara) are almost exactly opposite,” said Townsend cross-country coach Randy Welch. “Chiara’s a little more driven, she needs to get her workouts in. Jager’s just a little more relaxed.”
Welch said Chiara won’t allow herself to miss a day, and while she took some well advised breaks after the cross-country season, he knows she’s fit right back into a strict training regimen.
Having already been crowned the distance queen as a freshman, Chiara has to continue running harder and faster, treating weekend races more as a training run than competition.
Jager, meanwhile, had a strong winter season wrestling and now is focusing on making his final year of track his best.
That means extra miles on the weekends, and luckily for Jager and Chiara there’s someone there to push them.
Though Jager runs at a faster clip, the two will pair up on the weekends and run trails just outside of town. Jager will often take hillside paths while Chiara sticks to the flat grounds so the two can stay at roughly the same pace.
While Chiara is constantly challenging herself to beat some incredible times set by her aunt Molly Dattilo — a former Indiana state champ who was abducted in 2004 — she can trace her roots in the sport to her older brother.
“Jager, I looked up to him,” Chiara said. “He started cross-country and in sixth grade I saw him running and decided to try it out.”
Jager said he chose to pick up the sport after watching his mother put on running shoes and head out the door.
For the Warner family, distance running is certainly a family affair.
Jeff Windmueller: 447-4065 or firstname.lastname@example.org