MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Natalie and Elena Windels share both a last name and a passion for track and field.
“I like how you just get to accelerate and, like, just use all your power and try and finish and do the best that you can,” Elena said.
Her sister Natalie is more succinct.
“I just like running,” Natalie said.
James Pipkens, the head sprints coach for Apple Valley High School, works closely with the sisters. He says there may be some sibling rivalry going on.
“There’s a little competition in the household I think with them sometimes,” Pipkens laughed.
This year’s family vacation is a special one. They’re headed to North Carolina, where both have earned a spot in the Junior Olympics.
“It’s like everyone in the nation, and a lot of people are, like, better than me,” laughed Natalie.
“I’m just gonna do the best that I can,” Elena said.
Natalie’s 13, and she’s competing in four events: pentathlon, 100 hurdles, 200 hurdles and the 400 dash.
“She’s one of the kids that you have to stop sometimes, maybe slow down, because she will constantly work and work and work,” Pipkens said.
Elena is 10, and she’s a high-jumper and a crowd-pleaser.
“She is more outgoing. She loves to act out stuff and do stuff, do cartwheels while we’re training,” he said.
“It’s just how I am. I like it,” Elena said.
“It’s funny to actually see her and then see her sister which is more serious,” he said.
Both sisters are serious about one thing: they hope to one day drop the “Junior” from Junior Olympics.
“And that’s just my one big goal in life,” Elena said.
“Maybe, one day, I’ll make it to the Olympics,” Natalie said.
“Can’t do anything but inspire the kids to do their best,” James said.
If Natalie and Elena make it to the finals, they will be All-Americans.
Lakeville North freshman Evan El-Halawani is also competing in the Junior Olympics.