N  I  A  G  A  R  A        G  A  Z  E  T  T  E

Published: May 20, 2008 11:12 pm     

HS TRACK: Raepples make up Grand Island's sister act

By Nate Beutel
GRAND ISLAND — Those who know Jamie and Jenna Raepple best say there’s not a single ounce of rivalry between the sisters when it comes to sports. That might be hard to believe but it’s true, according to the siblings.

That all changes, though, when it comes to who gets to apply their make-up and do their hair first in the morning before school.

“Sometimes there’s a rivalry for the mirror,” Jenna said with a laugh.

But what teenage girl doesn’t need that extra minute or two before school?

Beauty aside, this sister act from Grand Island is making its name on the track. Jamie, a junior, has already been a Section VI and Niagara Frontier League champion and Jenna, a freshman, is hoping to follow in her older sister’s footsteps in the next few weeks.

While a lot of the sisters’ success is the result of hard work, their extensive gymnastics background can’t be ignored.

“I think a lot has to do with gymnastics because it teaches you the basics of track as well,” Jamie said.

Coach Craig Davis agreed.

“They’ve got the proper training to excel as well-rounded athletes,” he said. “In gymnastics they teach you how to run, which is not easy for most people. They now have that good running form that you need to be a successful athlete.”

For Jenna, gymnastics also built up great strength in her slender frame.

“You’re always working on arm and leg muscles,” she said.

Both sisters decided it was in their best interests to stop competing in gymnastics this past summer, largely due to a potentially serious back injury that Jamie suffered. The herniated disc in her back cost her last track season and future opportunities to compete in certain events such as the triple jump and high jump.

“She’s not even doing the events that she’s best at,” Davis lamented.

Jamie is still competing at a high level in the 100, 200, 400 relay and pole vault — all of which afford her a legit chance at an NFL title.

Jenna, meanwhile, is breaking records left and right and going by her undefeated record in the triple jump at all meets this spring, there’s a pretty good chance she could be punching a ticket to states. She’s also a top NFL contender in the 100, 200, 400 relay and long jump.

Give Jenna another year or two of training and Davis believes he might have a state champion on his hands.

“The school record is 37 feet, 11 inches in the triple jump and I expect Jenna to break that,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s the first girl in Western New York history to do 40 feet either.”

Of course, that would be just fine by Jamie.

“I just try to help her out the best I can,” she said. “I’m happy when she does well.”

Contact reporter Nate Beutel at 282-2311, ext. 2262.


• SCHOOL: Grand Island

• SPORT: Girls track & field

• GRADES: Jamie — junior; Jenna — freshman

• EVENTS: Jamie — 100, 200, 400 relay, pole vault; Jenna — 100, 200, 400 relay, triple jump, long jump

• COACH’S QUOTE: “They’re very coachable. They do what you ask and they do it hard.”

— Craig Davis