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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