Slingluff sisters prove that those who run together, stick together

Meghan Blaha

Triplet sisters Jesse and Rachel Slingluff are more than just sophomores, best friends and roommates; they are also teammates on the Kent State Cross Country team, running together for a second season.

After visiting campus with their older brother Jacob, who is a senior aeronautics major, Rachel and Jesse thought running as Golden Flashes would be a perfect fit. Jacob is also the person who introduced them to running in elementary school.

“We started running competitively in fourth grade, but our family, we all run so we probably started earlier,” Rachel said. “Our older brother started running, so we started running too,” Jesse added.

Both attended Beaumont School for girls in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and ran together all four years. After running together in high school, they had very different ideas of what they wanted to do in college.

“I never thought about not running in college. It was always something that I wanted to do. I can’t really picture not running in college,” Rachel said.

Jesse, on the other hand, thought her running career would come to a close after high school. “I didn’t really want to run in college,” Jesse said. “I was sort of pushed into it because (Rachel) really wanted to and I just wanted to be done with it. So my parents said, ‘you might as well try’, and I really like it now.”

“We thought about going to different colleges, like it was an option, but it just seemed easier to have two colleges, one for my brother and one for us instead of three separate colleges,” Rachel said. The other triplet, Sam, attends The Ohio State University.

When the girls visited Kent State, both were drawn to the ‘family-like’ atmosphere the team had. Current head coach Mark Croghan had a major impact on their choice to become Golden Flashes.

“We talked to a lot of coaches on different teams, and Kent was just different,” Rachel said. “We actually felt like we were important; it wasn’t just the fast people and then you. We are all equal.”

“The coach is the main thing,” Jesse said. “He is really understanding and personable with everyone. We are just not a person on the team; he really cares.”

Because the team is so small, both Jesse and Rachel feel very close to all of the girls and believe that will help them in the long run.

“Our team, we are kind of like a little family, so it’s nice actually having my sister there just experiencing all of the races,” Rachel said. “My parents can’t come to all of the races, so it’s nice to have someone there for me.”

On and off the course, Rachel and Jesse are each other’s greatest cheerleaders.

“No matter what, there is always someone that will cheer for you,” Jesse said, “Everyone on the team cheers for each other but I know no matter what she’ll always be there if I do bad or good.”

Seeing each other in class, in their dorm and at practice can create some tension between the two.

“We see each other 24-7 now, and sometimes I can compare myself to her,” Jesse said. “We are not really competitive with each other that much, but we both want each other to do well.”

Jesse is an early childhood education major and Rachel is in the Visual Communication Design program. They believe the dedication they learned on the course has helped them in the classroom as well.

“Being on a team has helped with school too because we have to get really good grades, so we are always studying or competing,” Rachel said. “It’s hard to balance sometimes.”

As both runners continue through the middle of the cross-country season, they both admit they are happy having a sister close by. Though they came to Kent State alone, they feel as if they have gained a whole team of sisters.

“But I really don’t know what I would do without half of the girls on my team,” Rachel said. “We are all really tight.”

Jesse, Rachel and the rest of the Kent State Cross Country team will travel to Ceaderville, Ohio next week where they will compete in the All-Ohio Championships.

This will be their last regular season meet before heading to the NCAA Pre-Nationals in October.

Contact Meghan Blaha at [email protected].