Runs in the Family: Douglass sisters dominate girls cross country


Kelly Douglass

Lily and Tenley Douglass posing with their medals awarded for placing top 20 at the Providence Invitational Meet at McAlpine Park.

Janie Peterson, Sports Editor

They say that your teammates are like family; for some, teammates truly are family. Sisters and top two runners on the team, sophomore Lily Douglass and junior Tenley Douglass, are easily recognizable by their commendable athleticism and identical curly ponytails bobbing as they cross the finish line. Between practice, school and life at home, the sisters spend more time together than apart, and motivate each other in all atmospheres.
“She knows me on a more personal level so she can help me set goals for myself and push me out of my comfort zone,” Tenley said.
They also help ease each other’s pre-race anxiety.
“It’s nice because when we’re nervous before meets, the day before we have each other at home so we can talk about it before we’re actually there. We do the same workouts so we can talk about that at home too,” Lily said.
Their at-home race rituals must be working, because Lily broke 19 minutes, setting a personal best of 18:57 in the 5K at the Wendy’s Invitational Meet on Oct. 2. This time puts her among the top 30 female high school runners in the state.
Head coach Nathan Newsome was not surprised at Lily’s performance and followed through with the tradition of buying runners a treat of their choice after breaking 19 minutes.
“It was a milestone for Lily that I knew she could reach. The tradition of a sub-19 request was rainbow bagels. A very simple, but perfect request from Lily,” he said.
Running is nothing new for the Douglass girls. The sisters started their running career with Girls on the Run in elementary school when they lived in Vermont. The Douglass family moved from Vermont to Connecticut in 2016, and then moved again from Connecticut to North Carolina in the summer of 2020, before Lily’s freshman year and Tenley’s sophomore year. In Connecticut, Lily did cross country, soccer and track and field and Tenley did soccer and track and field. Tenley did not do a fall sport her sophomore year, but decided to try out for track in the spring because of her sister.
“I saw how much fun Lily was having with cross country, and she was the one who encouraged me to do track and then from that suggested I do cross country,” Tenley said.
Tenley has improved quickly and is currently the No. 2 runner on the team, behind her younger sister with a personal record of 19:44 set at the Adidas Cross Country Challenge on Sept. 18.
Both appreciate the good team chemistry and agree that their involvement with running at West has been enjoyable.
“In Connecticut, it’s definitely way more competitive and less of just being happy for each other. It was less fun and just so stressful,” Lily said.
“I do feel like the community is better and a lot more encouraging here at West,” Tenley added.
One of the most important perks of joining the team was being able to interact with people after moving to a new state during the COVID-19 year.
“It definitely made it easier because last year, especially since we didn’t go to in-person school, my only friends were the people on the team because I didn’t get to meet anybody. Having Tenley go to the same school was also helpful, but the team is basically where I found my friends,” Lily said.
Teammate senior Taylar White shares the No.2/ No. 3 spot with Tenley and loves the energy the sisters bring to the team.
“It’s definitely fun to see their sister dynamic on the team especially since they have such different personalities; on the one hand, they seem like they aren’t even sisters since their personalities are so different, but at the same time it’s so funny to see everyone assume they’re twins when they show up to practice in unintentionally matching outfits,” White said
The two enjoy art, playing board games and watching Disney shows together, but it is running in particular that allowed them to bond and become even closer than before.
“Before we started running together, we didn’t do a sport together so it’s like I get to see a different side of her. It’s more time we get to spend together because at home we’re always doing homework or with our whole family,” Lily said. “Running is just me and her.”