Hutton twins

Bandon twins Sailor and Hunter Hutton compete in their final state cross country meet Saturday. 

JOHN GUNTHER, The World

BANDON —There were signs Bandon twins Hunter and Sailor Hutton were going to be standout runners long before they could walk.

First, they were impatient to be born.

They arrived three months early, on Jan. 1, 2000.

They were supposed to be born near the end of March, but ended up coming out in emergency surgery because the placenta in their mom, Tricia, was leaking.

“Sailor wanted out first,” Tricia said. “She wanted to go for a run.”

Hunter was born first, but only by a second or so. He also was slightly bigger — 2 pounds, 11 ounces, compared to 2 pounds, 8 ounces for Sailor.

“Hunter was the chubby one,” said their father, Brent.

The twins spent 53 days at Emmanuel Hospital in Portland before their parents could bring them home. During that time, they grew to 3 ½ pounds and Sailor showed more eagerness to get ahead in life, crawling across a towel that was set up as a bumper in her crib.

“The nurses couldn’t believe it,” said Tom Brown, the twins’ grandfather on their mother’s side.

Brown played a big role in the twins’ development as runners.

When they were 9 months old, he pushed them in the Prefontaine Memorial Run. They were even registered and got race numbers. Then he started taking them to monthly events of the South Coast Running Club.

“I started them early,” Tom said.

He was their main running influence early. Though Brent has become one of the area’s better road racers in recent years, he didn’t start running seriously until trying to run his age in a 10-kilometer race a year before the kids got to middle school. And Tricia ran in high school — she said Sailor has knocked her down the school’s top-10 list for the distance races (she expects the twins’ younger sister, Holly, to follow suit) — but wasn’t running much as the kids grew up.

That’s not to suggest that they didn’t contribute to the kids becoming competitive.

“The competitive nature comes from my mom and dad and Tom,” Brent said. “I’ve always been competitive.”

Instead of running, that came in the form of games, he said.

“You should try to play a board game with my dad,” Brent said.

As for running, Sailor showed an interest first in those events, many of which include a kids mile.

Tricia first noticed Sailor’s ability a few years later, when she was teaching physical education at the Christian school the kids attended.

“She was in first or second grade and she was beating all the eighth-graders,” Tricia said.

Soon they were running competitively.

“We did the Junior Olympics thing,” Sailor said. “Grandpa Brown was really into it.”

In addition to club runs, Sailor later would join Brown for trail runs in the Winchester trails system.

“I took Sailor out in sixth or seventh grade,” he recalled. “Hunter didn’t take to running until later.”

Sailor wasn’t just into running, though. She also showed an early passion for dance, something she continued until after starting high school, when she realized she couldn’t be great at both and chose running. Her dancing helped her develop as an athlete, Brent said.

“Probably because of her dance, she was naturally coordinated,” he said.

Hunter, meanwhile, didn’t commit to being a good runner until he was almost in high school.

“Once I got into eighth grade, I decided I wanted to be the best I could,” he said.

That included disappointing the basketball coach by giving up that sport to focus on running.

When the twins were younger, Hunter’s main interest was danger, be it climbing to the top of trees or climbing up into the trusses of nearly every house Brent was building.

Tricia joked that Hunter’s guardian angel wasn’t forced into working overtime.

“His angels have quit and been replaced,” she said.

But Hunter’s love of danger led to a love for pole vault, and while Sailor has won numerous state titles either in cross country or track and field, Hunter’s first individual state title came in that event (he also won the 1,500 last spring).

Like Sailor’s work in dance, Hunter’s work in pole vault has helped in the distance running.

“Pole vault has made him a better athlete,” Brent said.

Sailor made a splash early in high school, winning her first state title in cross country when they were freshmen. Hunter was competitive, but blossomed last year, Brent said.

“He still hasn’t reached close to his potential,” Brent said.

So while Sailor was drawing the eyes of college recruiters — she plans to sign a letter of intent next week to compete for Boise State University — Hunter is off the radar of most schools.

“We have to figure out how to sell him to a college,” Brent said. “He is going to get exponentially faster.”

Hunter said a few schools are interested, but he hopes to impress them so that he can earn a scholarship to make school affordable.

“This year is my breakout year in cross country and track,” he said.

Though they didn’t take to running at the same time and it took Hunter years to overcome his sister — she said the first time he beat her was in a Fourth of July race in seventh or eighth grade — they both love the sport.

“I love the competition of it and the progression of watching yourself get better,” Hunter said.

It helps that he’s had close friend Josh Snyder as a training partner, which has provided both an opportunity to be among the state’s best boys.

“I like the team spirit,” said Sailor. “Runners are different than other athletes. I feel like they are closer. Everyone cheers each other on. Even rivals are friends.”

This week, the twins compete in their final cross country state meet.

“I’m excited, just to end my high school career,” said Sailor, who hopes to win her second state title.

“I feel ready for state,” said Hunter, who hopes to join her on the top step of the awards podium. “Me and Josh feel fresh, ready to run hard.”

The arrival of Snyder and the twins in high school prompted Brent Hutton to step up Bandon’s entire program, leading to Bandon’s first state cross country title last fall.

“They all said, ‘I’d like to run in college,’” he recalled. “That’s where the program changed. I told them, ‘You’re going to have to treat it as a job.’

“It’s brought the rest of the team up. It’s cool to see the journey — that they’ve accomplished everything. It was a plan. I’m thrilled that it’s worked out.”

Now it’s down to one last race.

“It’s gone too fast,” Tricia said.

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