Stride for Stride
Twin Track Stars From Washington State Look for Identical Success at Marylandby DANIEL OYEFUSI ’19 | Photo by John T. Consoli
It takes a lot to tell identical twins Dai’lyn and Jai’lyn Merriweather apart. Reviewing their records dominating the track and field scene in Washington State doesn’t help.
As seniors at Union High School in a Portland, Ore., suburb, the duo each won three state titles in spring 2017: Jai’lyn in the women’s 400-meter and Dai’lyn in the 200, and together in a pair of relays.
Now freshmen at the University of Maryland, the two begin the season in January with a 2,800-mile change in scenery but even higher expectations for themselves, including the goal of competing on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team in Tokyo.
“We wanted to get away from home and be in a new environment and a new place in general,” Dai’lyn says. “But mainly, we’re really putting all of our trust in (head umd Coach Andrew Valmon) and the training that we’re going to do and the things that he tells us that we can accomplish and the things we know we can accomplish together as a team.”
Valmon, who actively recruited the twins to Maryland, admires their willingness to take risks.
“In track and field, it’s not always the person who speeds up at the end of the race. It’s the person that can slow down the least,” he says. “And I think that they understand that if they’re really fit and have an open mind, the sky’s the limit.”
Success on the track for the Merriweather twins seemed inevitable. Their father, and sprints coach throughout their track career, Dominique, won the 1992 state title in the 200 at Benson High in Portland and was part of four state championships there before running at the University of Reno and Concordia.
Valmon certainly has the resume to guide the twins. He earned gold medals on the United States 4x400 relay teams in the 1988 and 1992 Summer Olympics.
The two acknowledge that their training regimen will change drastically for the Olympics, and another level of focus will be required to qualify.
“They’re two different categories,” Dai’lyn says. “You can’t just get there and–”
“Not be prepared,” Jai’lyn finishes.
While they may seem completely alike, Dai’lyn intends to major in business and supply chain management, while Jai’lyn is interested in criminal justice. Jai’lyn describes herself as reserved; Dai’lyn is more outgoing. Dai’lyn is an adept whistler—Jai’lyn can barely eke out a tune.
They also run different events, though it’s possible that they may race against each other this season.
“We love each other—we’re sisters. But if we’re both in the race at the same time, it’s still a race,” Jai’lyn says. “We’re still competing.”
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What a blessing it is to see the growth in both of you. Continue to press forward and never let go of God's hand. I have first choice in carrying our suite cases at the Olympics . Lol....love you both!
Union High School is in Camas, Washington in the Evergreen School District.
Thank you for this article about two amazing young women. We are eager to keep hearing more on their journey.
Love you both and so proud that your goals are high both athletically and academically! Keep up the good work on and off the field because the moon is the limit...lol Love you, Uncle George
Jacqueline S Thomas
I love you girls! Both Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA are rooting for you no matter where you are running, from Washington to Maryland and on go Tokyo, our cheers are with you! Love you both..mama Jackie
All I can say is you two are living proof that there is a God, I also want to say you represent Him well.... now go get your dream.