Then there’s Merriweather fast.
The imprint Union High School’s turbo twins — Dai’lyn and Jai’lyn Merriweather — leave on the Washington state high school track and field scene speaks volumes: a combined six individual state titles in the sprints, plus a pair of relay victories with times that shattered state meet records.
But the impression they leave on their competition might have the greatest impact.
The Merriweathers, The Columbian’s All-Region girls track and field co-athletes of the year for the second time in three years, could be drawn to tears when they relive the story from the final day at the 4A state meet in Tacoma, their final day as high school competitors.
Minutes after helping Union set an all-time state meet record in the girls 1,600 relay in a weekend that included four state titles and three meet records, relay runners from Hanford and Kamiak became big fans of the Merriweathers.
And with fans comes autograph seekers.
Smartphones out, pens in hand, soon came the question: “Will you sign our spikes?”
It blew the Merriweathers away. They’re high school kids, just like every other athlete at Mount Tahoma Stadium that weekend before jetting off to the University of Maryland later this summer to begin life as college student-athletes.
But the humbling gesture — “an indescribable feeling,” Jai’lyn said — by the competitors they beat on the track nearly brought the twins to tears. And of course, they happily signed the shoes and posed for photos.
“To see how many people support us,” Dai’lyn Merriweather said, “it pushes us more to be great, and it’s nice to see that our heart work has impacted so many people.
“Track has exposed us to so many people; we’ve made so many different friends.”
That autograph-signing day was part of a field day for the Merriweathers that began with them running the final two legs of Union’s 800 relay, breaking Garfield’s 1983 meet-record time, followed by them three-peating as state champions in their individual events: Dai’lyn in the 200; Jai’lyn in the 400. In fact, their times over the weekend would have put them in the Pac-12 Championship finals.
During a sit-down interview, Dai’lyn and Jai’lyn were asked about their future. A question about goals eventually led to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“That’s becoming more of a bigger goal each year,” Jai’lyn said, “because it’s more of a reality now.”
Get to the Olympics, or what, once you get there?
“Get there, and win,” Dai’lyn said. “I think we’re capable within us. We each have each other’s back to keep each other accountable. We have a good support system that helps us, too.”
A lot of that support system comes from their parents, Dominique and Beverly, who both ran track in high school.
Their father, Dominique, also is Union’s sprints coach. In high school, he won the 1992 state title in the 200 and was part of four state championship relays at Portland’s Benson High, and from 1997-2011, coached a half-dozen Benson sprinters to 18 Oregon state titles.
He saw his oldest daughters’ potential as seventh graders, and as a father of identical twins, said he saw the importance of extending individual identities into sports. Dai’lyn’s focus in track is the 100 and 200, and Jai’lyn is the 400.
But for one final weekend, the sisters shared the spotlight in the 200 final at Mount Tahoma. In a weekend where multiple meet records were set in the sprints between the meet’s three classifications, the sisters finished first and second in the race with Dai’lyn winning the 200 for the third time in her career in a personal-best 23.73 seconds. Jai’lyn was second in 24.10, also a personal-best.
No doubt, it’s fun being fast, just as equally fun to be a twin, they say. But unless you put in the hard work, the talent will only take you so far.
“You can have all the talent in the world,” Dai’lyn said, “but if don’t have the dedication and strive to be great, then it’s not the same.”
That’s part of the advice they give to fellow young athletes who strive for big dreams. Also, not forgetting who helped you get there.
“Medals, trophies and awards are nice,” Jai’lyn said, “but say thank you to the people who helped you get to that point.”
Rest of All-Region team
Abby Brotherton, Prairie
Had a field day in the shot put at the 3A state meet, throwing a personal-best 38 feet, 5 ¼ inches to place fifth.
Alyssa Chapin, Hockinson
Placed third in 100 hurdles and fifth in 300 hurdles at the state meet. Also was district champion in the 300 hurdles.
Meri Dunford, Prairie
Captured district and bi-district titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 in first year of track. Also second at state in 1,600.
Emma Jenkins, Camas
Was the 4A district champion in the 1,600 and 3,200 and had top-10 placings in both events at the state meet.
Krystal Kaufman, Skyview
Saved her best race for last: ran a personal-best 2:13.49 in the 800 at the 4A state meet to place fifth.
Madison Peffers, Camas
From no-heighting to state title at 5 feet 6, setting a new personal-best jump and breaking her school record.
Sarah Retter, Woodland
Jumped 5 feet 4 to win the Class 2A high jump state title. Also ran in the 400 and in the Beavers’ 4×400 relay at state
Alyssa Smith, Evergreen
Cleared a school-record 11 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault to place fourth at the 3A state meet.
Julia Stepper, Woodland
Won first state title at 2A state meet (100 meters). Also finished second, third in 200 and long jump at state meet.
Ellie Walker, Columbia River
Wrapped up successful career with second-place finish at 2A state meet in 100 hurdles (15.07).