Sisterly love: Talented twin sisters take aim at State

Published on October 19, 2011 in the Sigourney News-Review, Keota Eagle and What Cheer Paper

There may be two of them, but they are definitely one of a kind.

Senior twin sisters Celsey and Brenna Conger are two of the fastest cross-country runners to have ever gone through Pekin High School. They have helped the Panthers win two 1A State Championships and a runner up finish in 2A.

At all three state meets, the Conger sisters have finished in the top 15 runners in the state, though Celsey has been just a hair faster every year. She finished fifth in 1A her freshman year, then third in 2A, and second in 1A last year. Brenna has finished 11th, then 15th while running with sickness and third last year, just two seconds behind her sister.

"They do things that most people couldn't as far as responsibility and taking care of themselves. They are pretty amazing," said Pekin cross-country coach Davis Eidahl.

"They are determined. If they put their mind to something, you don't change it. If you say, 'Brenna, you have got to beat that girl,' or if someone says something to her and ticks her off, there is no way that she is going to lose."

Yet, while the Conger sisters have similar focus and skills, they are clearly different people. Celsey likes to start off her races as fast as she can and push herself to maintain that pace, Brenna starts off a little slower and tries to outlast the competition.

Brenna is the more talkative of the two. She doesn't hesitate to get into arguments with her teammates at practice. Her favorite target of course, is her sister.

"Brenna is different," Celsey said. "She is the oddball. It is unexplainable. She does her own thing. Everybody will be wearing our green shirts and a headband...

"Our yellow shirts?" Brenna chimes in.

"They are lime green," Celsey answers.

"They are yellow."

"Shut up... and she will be the only one without it," Celsey continues on as if there had been no interruption.

Although Celsey has beaten her sister at state all four years, Brenna was the first one of the two to join cross-country.

"I decided I wanted to try running because I hated cheerleaders and there was really nothing else to do, so I joined track and they put me in the 1500 and I liked it so I decided to try cross-country because it was long distance and it was something to do," Brenna said. "I ended up being good at it."

In eighth grade, Brenna got third in the middle school state cross-country meet.

Celsey was not able to join Brenna on the cross-country team in eighth grade because she was in a bad car accident during the track season in seventh grade when the car she was in got T-boned, injuring almost her entire right side.

"The reason I started is because the doctors told me that I wasn't able to run and I wouldn't be good at it and [Brenna] was running so I decided that I would run and see if I could beat her," Celsey said. "We got to the end of the season and I did beat her at state. Ever since then, I just don't let her beat me. I go a little faster every year."

"She got through her mental barrier," Brenna added. "Now I need to do that. I kind of have a mental block at the moment. I'm trying to get through it."

When she first started, due to the injuries and lack of running experience, Celsey was towards the back of the pack in cross-country practices, but her determination and competitiveness didn't allow that to last very long.

"I just didn't think I would be good, but after the first meet Mr. Eidahl told me that I had to stay up there in practice and pushed me a little harder," she said. "I stayed up with him and I am glad I did."

The Conger twins are constantly in competition with each other and are always pushing one another. That will continue on Thursday when the pair race at the state qualifying meet in Knoxville and almost certainly again at the state championships.

"I am going for first place because I can do it," Celsey said. "I know that I can. I am just as capable as anyone else out there."

But Brenna isn't willing to concede defeat to her sister yet.

"I am going to try to place better than last year," Brenna said. "First or second is my goal."

If the sisters end up battling for first and second place at state, the real winner will be Pekin. The Panther girls are ranked number one in the state again this year and are favored to repeat as champions.

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