Orville Twins Face-Off Against Each Other For First Time In Competition

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The Howard sisters DeVonne (left) and DeNesha are both headed to Akron to run track

It’s a joke DeNesha Howard has heard a few times before,
but she’s still able to laugh at it. Howard is half of a set of twins. Her sister DeVonne was born eight minutes earlier. DeVonne even started life faster. There’s no shame in being the slower of the Howard twins. Or in
this case, the least fast. The Orrville seniors are still both faster than just about
anyone else.


It’s a joke DeNesha Howard has probably heard a few times before, but she’s still able to laugh at it, and do so sincerely with a picture-perfect smile.

Howard is half of a set of twins. Her sister DeVonne was born eight minutes earlier. DeVonne even started life faster.

“Ohhhh!” DeVonne said when she heard the line.

There’s no shame in being the slower of the Howard twins. Or in this case, the least fast. The Orrville seniors are still both faster than just about anyone else, as they showed Saturday at the Orrville Division II District meet.

Racing head-to-head for the first time in an official event, DeVonne won the 200 in 26.01, .15 ahead of her sister, who was well ahead of everyone else.

“This was my first time running the 200 ever,” DeNesha said after the sisters and their Orrville teammates accepted the district team championship trophy. “My coaches just threw me in because I had a huge asthma attack in the 400. They were so nervous about us competing and getting mad at each other. That was not the case. I told her, ‘This is your race and I’m gonna try to be up there with you.’

“I was happy. She came in first and it was Orrville, and that’s all that matters.”

The pair won plenty over the two days of district competition. DeVonne won the long jump, as she nearly always does. DeNesha finished third in the 100. The pair led Orrville’s 4×100 team to victory and were half of a unit that finished second in the 4×100.

Red Riders coach Jason Ayers corroborates the claim that he was hesitant to put the pair in the same event.

“But this year we wanted to find a third event for ’Nesha,” he said. “I said. ‘How do you feel about running the open 2’ together.’ They said no problem. They were joking before hand about how they were going to cross the finish line together. That way one of them didn’t have to beat the other one.”

Running with Heather Moffit and Kaylie Davis, the Howards were part of a district record-setting effort in the 400 relay, their time of 49.67 breaking a 12-year-old mark. The sisters finished fourth in the state in the relay last year, along with Aireka Wright, who has since graduated, and Davis.

They know their relay success depends heavily on the other half of the team and don’t hesitate in expressing gratitude.

“If we didn’t have them or they got hurt, we wouldn’t be a team,” DeVonne said. “They’re both important. We’re like quadruplets.”

That Moffit is on the track at all has much to do with the Howards. After a cheerleading injury sidelined her a year ago, Moffit considered not returning to the sport. The twins made sure that wasn’t going to be the case.

“They told her they needed her,” Ayers said. “And now they’re running as good as they ever have.”

Individually, DeVonne is the more decorated of the two sisters on a state-wide level.

She finished second in the state in the 200 last year and has her eyes on the state title in that event this year. Defending champ Cat Humphries of Cincinnati McNicholas, is back, as are six of the other seven runners who were in the final last year.

DeVonne also set the state long jump record last year when she won the state title with a leap of 19 feet, 7 3/4 inches. Being a defending state champ hasn’t put any pressure on her, so she says.

“There is no pressure,” she said. “I do what I have to do. Everyone thinks I have to be awesome, but I just perform the way I have to.”

DeNesha finished 14th in the state in the 100 a year ago. She is hoping for a spot in the finals in that event this year.

The twins will both head to the University of Akron this fall. DeVonne has her eye on an early childhood education major. DeNesha is considering physical or occupational therapy. Both will run for the Zips.

And if they end up in the same race a time or two in college, that will be just fine.

“It’s been a neat journey seeing them as they get older,” Ayers said. “They really care about each other. There’s no sibling rivalry there at all.”

Unless, of course, it’s a race for the bathroom or breakfast table in the morning. Then it’s anyone’s race.

“It depends,” DeVonne said, “who gets up earlier.”

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