Myah and Theo Kamperides have combined to win nine races this season.
Theo Kamperides rounded the baseball field and set his sights on the finish line, where there were two people who could be heard cheering him on louder than everyone else — his sister Niki and cousin Myah.
Myah had just taken first in the girls’ race, while Niki took fifth overall to power Whitman-Hanson Regional High past Plymouth South.
Theo edged his Plymouth South opponent by one second to win his race to lift the boys’ team to victory. The trio — brimming with excitement— celebrated with a group hug at the finish line.
“I knew Myah won when we were warming up at the starting line,” Theo said. “It was awesome.”
While it’s a moment they said they won’t forget, it’s been a sequence they’ve replicated often this year. The sophomore, Myah, has won five of her six races, while Theo, a junior, has finished in the top spot four times, and Niki, a senior, remains the Panthers’ No. 3 runner.
“It’s always fun when you get kids who are almost a lock to come in first place,” said W-H cross country head coach Steve George. “But it’s far more enjoyable because they’re here every day practicing hard with smiles on their faces.”
The Kamperides began preparations for the season this summer, and they did it as a group.
“We would do workouts together on the track twice a week,” Niki said. “We’d also all go to the weight room twice a week.”
But even with a familiarity of Myah’s blazing speed, Niki said she’s taken aback by her cousin’s success. That’s because Myah didn’t even run cross country as a freshman last year.
“I’ve been really impressed, as a sophomore coming in with this as her first year at cross country, Niki said. “I think it’s amazing.”
Myah played soccer instead, until she changed her mind during the winter. She does attribute some of her success to her time on the pitch, though.
“I have a strong finish, so I felt like soccer gave me the ability to give me the strong finish that I have,” Myah said. “During winter track, I just fell in love with cross-country and the whole team convinced me to do cross-country instead of soccer.”
Myah’s first-place finishes against Marshfield (covered 2.85-mile course in 19:38), Hingham (covered 2.98-mile course in 19:47) and Duxbury (covered 5K course in 20:14) were the lone bright spots in a few tough meets for W-H.
“Without her, we would have been shut out at Hingham, we would have been shut out at Marshfield and at Duxbury as well,” George said. “Those are some good teams and Myah’s beaten them all.”
Myah’s times have been so above the norm that George has her practice with the boys’ team a couple of days a week.
“Her training paces fall within the parameters of our lead boys’ group,” George explained. “On some easy days, because she is also capable of higher mileage, it makes sense for her to run with the boys. Other days, and almost always on workout days, she works with coach (Kim) Coletti and our top girls’ group.”
For Theo, he picked up cross country in the sixth grade, but he didn’t start running full-time until last year when he decided to do indoor track instead of wrestling.
“During wrestling season we would joke around that the only thing he likes were the stair workouts because they were running up and down the stairs,” said his sister Niki.
Said Theo: “Yeah, my favorite thing in wrestling was the running on the track.”
And when Theo honed in on just running, he rounded into form as the Panthers’ top boys’ finisher in every race last autumn, and then set personal bests in the 1-mile and 2-mile races during the spring.
“He was prepared during all three seasons from Day One and had a better base to work from,” George said. “Nobody works harder than Theo. He is the poster boy for success in distance running at W-H.”
Myah said she’s been feeding off her cousin Theo’s success for a while now.
“I remember the year before when I was going into my freshman year, we went on a run together because I always knew I was going to do track and he ran eight miles and I could only do four,” Myah said. “I was really impressed and that pushed me.
“Even last year when I played soccer, all my friends said, ‘He’s so fast.’ That pushed me too.”
While Niki’s times don’t quite rival her brother and cousin’s, she shares a part of the success.
“She has a lot of (influence on me),” Myah said. “She is one of the most positive people on the team. She just tells me and everybody to keep going during workouts.”
George echoed Myah’s sentiments.
“Niki is a highly regarded team member,” he explained. “I find her to be incredibly funny and a teammate who is quite vocal in support of all her teammates. I’d love to have a dozen more just like her.”
And the Kamperides would love to have a dozen more seasons just like this.
“It’s great, it’s really fun,” Theo said. “I would want to not do it without them. When Niki graduates, it’s going to be really sad when she’s not here.”
Added Myah: “It’s fun because we’re all similar people and we always get along and enjoy each other’s company.”
Said Niki: “It makes me glad at the end of the school day to be able to have this with them because we’re not in classes together. To be able to do this together is really fun.”