Triplet sis­ters lead­ing Moun­tain Ridge XC

The Arizona Republic - - Azcentral Sports - RICHARD MORIN

As triplets, Emily, Lizzie and Les­lie Si­mon have com­peted in vir­tu­ally ev­ery as­pect of their lives. But now, as ju­niors run­ning for the Glendale Moun­tain Ridge cross county team, the sis­ters are turn­ing their in­ter­nal com­pe­ti­tion into a su­per-pow­ered sup­port sys­tem.

The girls have dab­bled in races since they were 9 years old. At first, it was just some­thing to do — an ath­letic ac­tiv­ity to get out of the house. But when the triplets started earn­ing medals for their age group, things be­gan to get se­ri­ous.

It was Lizzie, while in mid­dle school, who was the first to start train­ing with Go The Dis­tance, a youth run­ning club in cen­tral Phoenix. Even­tu­ally, Emily and Les­lie fol­lowed shortly af­ter.

“At first, none of them trained, they just raced,” Shawn Si­mon, the girls’ fa­ther, said. But they started get­ting more into it. When Lizzie started train­ing, (Emily and Les­lie) had been play­ing soc­cer but fell out of it and started prac­tic­ing with Go The Dis­tance.”

While the sis­ters all found a love for run­ning, their run­ning styles and race pref­er­ences are ac­tu­ally quite dif­fer­ent. Lizzie is more of a long-dis­tance run­ner, while Les­lie prefers mid­dle-dis­tance. For Emily, her forte is the steeple­chase.

Those dif­fer­ent niches not only help the girls ex­cel in their own forte, but it also bal­ances out the dy­namic of the team.

“I like the steeple­chase be­cause it’s dif­fer­ent from other races,” Emily said. “Not a lot of peo­ple can do it, it’s a very skilled event with both men­tal and phys­i­cal strength. I think (those dif­fer­ent strengths) help us all keep pace. We bal­ance each out.”

Now that all three are run­ning at the high school level, the com­pe­ti­tion is as fierce as ever. At the Desert Twi­light In­vi­ta­tional on Sept. 30 in Casa Grande, Emily, Lizzie and Les­lie fin­ished 1-2-3, re­spec­tively, for their team. All three of them recorded per­sonal bests.

“It’s re­ally dif­fi­cult some­times be­cause we com­pete over ev­ery­thing,” Les­lie said. “But it’s also nice be­cause it taught us that be­ing com­pet­i­tive is a good thing, to not shy away from a chal­lenge.”

Over the years, the Si­mon sis­ters have raced each other more than 50 times, and each race throws more fuel to the fire that is the com­pe­ti­tion be­tween them. Moun­tain Ridge has a dis­trict meet coming up next Wed­nes­day, and each sis­ter feels they have a chance to win.

“I think it’s any­body’s game, but it’s also tough be­cause we know each other’s race strate­gies,” Emily said. “Lizzie re­ally likes to push it in the sec­ond mile and Les­lie can adapt to any sit­u­a­tion. For me, I like to come from be­hind so it’s re­ally any­body’s game.”

But just like the girls dif­fer in rac­ing styles, they also hold dif­fer­ent per­sonal in­ter­ests. Les­lie has a pas­sion for the per­form­ing arts, Lizzie ex­cels in math and sci­ence, and Emily knows she wants to keep run­ning the steeple­chase.

Emily has a de­sire to run in col­lege for Colorado, the alma mater of steeple­chase gold medal­ist Emma Coburn. For Lizzie, she has de­signs to study and run at Em­bry-Rid­dle in Prescott. And Les­lie also wants to run in col­lege, but prefer­ably at a school that spe­cial­izes in the arts.

“I’ve been very set in what I want to do for a long time, in­vested in run­ning and school­work,” Lizzie said. “I want to run for col­lege, and I al­ways pic­ture run­ning for the rest of my life. Of course, it would be amaz­ing if Emily and Les­lie would go there too, but I’m not sure how that dy­namic will change.”

This year, the con­ver­sa­tion has taken a shift to­ward what’s next — and the girls are re­al­iz­ing that they might be on dif­fer­ent paths. Re­gard­less, they’re rel­ish­ing their time to­gether right now.

“We com­pete at pretty much ev­ery­thing, but we al­ways make a point to sup­port each other,” Emily said. “As far as the fu­ture goes ... I don’t know how I’d live with­out liv­ing with them.”


From left, Emily, Lizzie and Les­lie Si­mon are lead­ing the charge for Moun­tain Ridge.

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