The Rocket Twins’ path to success

Two freshman runners train daily on a pathway to become not only pillars of the school’s running program, but LCN athletics in general.

Brandon+Penberthy+racing+a+Cross-Country+race+at+Anchor+Bay+High+School+during+early+september.+Photo+credit%2C+Sara+Krug.

Brandon Penberthy racing a Cross-Country race at Anchor Bay High School during early september. Photo credit, Sara Krug.

With all the commotion of the 2020-2021 school year, the efforts of two young LCN students have definitely gone unrecognized. Brandon Penberthy ’24, and his twin brother Dylan Penberthy ’24, have been accustomed to athletic success throughout their time at L’anse Creuse Middle School East. Standouts in every sport they played, the young twin Penberthys took a particular interest to cross-country and track & field, as early as the 2017 season of cross-country while they were in only sixth grade. Quickly becoming the top two runners in their middle school conference, the brothers were affectionately nicknamed ‘The Rocket Twins’ by their middle school coach. Competitive running however, had not been Brandon Penberthy’s first sport, although it was the one he settled on. While some athletes see cross-country as an alternative sport for those who seem to have been born with ‘bricks for hands’, Brandon Penberthy’s reasoning for why he runs starkly contrasts that belief. “I like running because I believe it’s the hardest sport mentally and physically. Any kid can catch a football or shoot a basketball. Running though, not many kids can go out and run everyday”, commented Penberthy, on his reasoning for running cross-country.

A Cross-Country jamboree race strings out early on, With Brandon pictured as the second LCN runner from the left and Dylan fourth from left. Photo credit: Sara Krug

Throughout their seventh and eighth grade years, the rocket twins were racking up cross-country medals. As a seventh grader, Brandon Penberthy ran 5:16.9 in the mile during the 2019 track season. Penberthy’s mile time was less than one second behind breaking the MSE record of 5:16, set by current LCN senior and varsity runner Jarrett Geddes ’21, while he was an eighth grader in 2017. It’s surprising to many that young seventh grade athletes could be so committed to dance across the lower five minute range in the mile, but perhaps something that makes the Penberthy twins so tough compared to others, is their brotherly rivalry. “It’s like any other rivalry… you want to be better. He’s my teammate and my brother, and at the end of the day, we have the same goal”, explained Brandon Penberthy on how his rivalry motivates him.

The Varsity LCN Cross-Country team pictured after their race at Freedom hill during the October third Hanson’s invitational. Brandon Penberthy is the second runner from the left, and Dylan the fourth from left. photo credit: Sara Krug

“It makes me want to get better so I can beat him!” remarked Dylan Penberthy, on the other half of their rivalry.

Despite Brandon Penberthy being less than one second off the MSE mile record as a seventh grader, Geddes’ record will still continue to stand, as Penberthy’s 2020 track season was cancelled. Nonetheless, both Brandon and Dylan Penberthy began preparing for their first High School cross-country season. The Penberthy’s were no strangers to the LCN Coach or High School team however, as they had attended summer conditioning practices back in the summer of 2019, when they were coming off of only seventh grade. This helped lead into their very successful eighth grade cross-country seasons, and also got them introduced to their future class of 2021 teammates. The shift in training early on no doubt helped prepare the rocket twins for the next year to come. “The [High School] training was very hard when I first started, but now, it’s easier”, explained Dylan Penberthy.

Although the season of summer conditioning in 2020 was shortened and underwhelming compared to the usual LCN summer cross-country regiment, the rocket twins began their freshman seasons showcasing their natural talent. Brandon Penberthy ran varsity throughout every single race, and Dylan Penberthy ran varsity through all races except for two. The most successful season an LCN freshman has had since the stellar 2013 campaign of alumni Thomas Michno ’17, belonged to Brandon Penberthy, finishing not far behind the ghost of Michno’s seven-year old freshman school record. While many of his senior teammates were down and out, Brandon Penberthy led the LCN team as the number one runner through two championship races, the conference, and the pre-regional. To close off his stellar freshman season, Brandon Penberthy finished the 5,000 meter distance with a personal best of 17:18 during the regional championship on October 30th, at Anchor Bay High School. Not far behind was his brother Dylan clocking 17:36, with both times being very solid for 14 year old runners. When asked about his first High School season, Brandon Penberthy elaborated; “My first High School season was great. The first two weeks were easy, and than I started to run with a senior, and everything changed. He had me doing runs with him that I never even thought about doing, and he pushed me along with everyone else on the team.”

Brandon Penberthy recovers after his second number one finish on the LCN team, running 17:32.3 at the MHSAA Pre Regional championships at Romeo High School, October 20th 2020. Photo credit: Sara Krug
Dylan Penberthy races down a hill at the MHSAA pre-regional championships at Romeo High School on October 20th 2020. photo credit: Sara Krug.

Though the two freshman stars finished the 2020 season as MAC White all-conference runners, also ranked in the top five freshmen in Macomb County, they did it all with, so far, little recognition. Both twins have been homeschooled, attending LCN virtually. So despite representing the black and gold with glory in top championship settings, the twin Penberthys have yet to step foot in their own home High School. No matter how things play out for the twins, cross-country has already taught Brandon some valuable lessons. “Every week got harder, and that’s how it can be with anything. Cross-Country is one of, if not the best sport because each week you can see yourself getting better, and running faster and longer”, commented Brandon Penberthy, on how his training helps him persevere through obstacles.

Brandon Penberthy leads the LCN Cross-Country team as only a freshman during the Mac White Conference championships on October 15th 2020, medaling with a time of 17:45 on the metro beach course. Photo credit: Kam Ramadanov

While the future is full of plentiful opportunities for the incoming track-stars, they train each day through the winter under the guidance of the team’s senior captains. With Track season on the horizon, the freshmen brothers are eager to see what they can do. Potentially future state finalists, the sky is the limit for the rocket twins. Currently, Dylan Penberthy plans on playing for the basketball team, while Brandon Penberthy is holding out hopes for an indoor track meet. Both athletes have had successful winter training for track either way, and are surely future big names for L’Anse Creuse North Athletics.