RYAN REEBENACKER, KNIGHT WIRE CO-MANAGER
Carina and Christopher Collet are two of many contributors to the cross country teams’ dominant early-season stretch, resulting in first-place finishes for both the men’s and women’s teams through three contests.
For the Collets, racing culture runs far deeper in their family than just the two Wartburg siblings.
“My dad ran for North Central College and my mom ran for North Park College,” Carina, a two-time All-American in cross country, said. “Since then they’ve kept running. I feel like I grew up volunteering at triathlons handing out water cups. It runs in the family.”
Christopher, now entering his sophomore season, acknowledges he has long been able to draw inspiration from not just his parents, but also his sisters.
“Seeing my dad do it and hearing about all of his accomplishments was really inspiring and being in an environment where I could see my sisters go and run at state competitions, it’s been like being surrounded by greatness my whole life,” Christopher said.
Christopher and Carina are two of six siblings and internal competition among the family, who lives in Verona, Illinois, is one of the ways Carina has seen her siblings grow as athletes.
“One of my favorite examples of our competitiveness was when we were both on the swim team when we were younger,” Carina said. “So I broke 30 seconds in the 50-free[style], which was kind of a landmark, and I did it this meet and I was so excited. And then Christopher swims in the next race and breaks 30 seconds in the 50-free[style] and I was like ‘are you serious?’”
Carina, a senior, is the older of the two siblings and has established herself at the collegiate level through conference and national honors. Christopher, on the other hand, is eyeing potential future collegiate awards.
“I think it’s really interesting that he came to Wartburg. I didn’t think he would go to the same college as me,” Carina said. “Because when he came here I was already an All-American, I was already, you know, ‘Carina Collet.’ I was kind of a big name. And that’s a lot to live up to and to say ‘Oh wow, you’re Carina’s little brother right?’”
Christopher admits that he has struggled with removing himself from Carina’s shadow but ultimately is glad to have her around.
“Having my sister here does help, it’s more good than it is bad,” Christopher said. ”While I may be staying in her shadow a little bit I can still use it as constant motivation. If Carina was an All-American here what’s my excuse not to be?”
Though the siblings share an upbringing, they view each other as very different runners on the collegiate course.
“We differ probably most in our approach and our style,” Carina said. “We both want to finish hard and finish fast, but the challenge is finishing hard while knowing that you gave a good effort throughout the whole race, not just sitting back until the end.”
For Christopher to reach All-American heights, his “No. 1 goal”, he recognizes the necessity to improve his mid-race ability.
“At the end of any given race, as long as I have the strength to do it, I know I can close fast,” Christopher said. “So getting stronger in the middle of the race is probably what needs to be improved in order for me to reach the All-American status, which is a goal that I’d set up for myself since my senior year of high school.”
For the Collet siblings, being raised by runners and growing up as a part of the racing culture has given them the confidence to run fearlessly.
“Even Olympians are human,” Christopher said. “All the D-I guys that run, they’re human too. I grew up around greatness, and every level that I’ve gone up I really do believe that there isn’t anyone that is untouchable. [My family] has taught me that.”
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