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Nov. 21, 2010
By Kaitlyn Knopp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Kyle and Owen Dawson do not look like stereotypical twins - Kyle, wiry and dark haired is a stark contrast to his tall, blonde brother - but both brothers share strong ties besides blood, mainly a love for fast-paced, neck-in-neck racing.
"We like doing the same thing," said Owen.
The Dawson brothers, both runners, are athletes with high rankings in their individual events. Owen, a kinesiology major, prefers the 800-meter, and qualified for the 2010 USATF Championships in the 800-meter at the national level. Kyle, a recreation, park and tourism management major, favors longer distances, running 5,000-meters, which he placed in at the NCAA Eastern First Round in 2010.
Both brothers said there isn't a lot of sibling rivalry when it comes to competing in the events, but if they are on the same track, it can get heated.
"If we race each other in a mile, we'll race each other as fast as we can," said Kyle, lounging back in his chair, arms crossed.
Owen and Kyle both said they understand the abilities of each other, and accept that they both are good in different events. Owen described the long distance racing as "Kyle's thing," while Kyle said Owen "is just better" at the 800-meter, and so they don't find a reason to be overly competitive - but they do try to fire each other up before meets.
"It makes it easier to motivate him because I know what motivates him," Owen said, leaning back, his stance similar to his brother. "I know what buttons to push."
The two brothers have been on the Nittany Lion cross country team since their freshman year, though they both say they have played the same sports all their lives. They also lived with each other through their sophomore year of college, and had nothing bad to say about one another - though they owned up to brotherly teasing.
"Since we don't really do the same events, we talk trash on each other's events," Owen said. "On one hand we're talking trash on each other, but if he has a bad race I'll come over and say it's okay."
Overall both brothers described a relationship unaffected by position or lifestyle. Even with Kyle being a team captain, they said that it doesn't really bother their relationship, and Kyle said of being a team captain, "it isn't a dictatorship."
"Aside from the other captains, I trust him to lead more than anyone else," Kyle said, "Because he knows what to do and how to get it done."
Kyle said that although Chris Cipro and he run longer distances than Owen in practices, he will entrust Owen with leading team stretches while the captains finish their workout.
The two brothers agreed they work well together as teammates, and both intend to run post-collegiately, perhaps eventually together in the Olympics. Owen said they would like to live near each other - something their family would also prefer.
"They like it because they can keep track of us," Owen said with a smile.
The brothers also would prefer it because despite the lack of rivalry, there is no end to support they give one another. Something that brought them closer was freshman year, when Kyle was redshirted.
"I'd say a time I was proud of him was his freshman year he when wasn't allowed to run because he has a muscular disorder, so they redshirted him," Owen said. "So sophomore year they let him run and the first race he was the best on the team, and he killed it."
Since then, Kyle has been a top competitor in cross country, with Kyle performing intensely in the track and field. They both are looking forward to a good year together, and potentially racing in some national arenas.
Kyle still fights with his muscular disorder, though it obviously doesn't stop him from performing above and beyond expectations. Owen said he isn't sure about the specifics of Kyle's disorder, though potentially it could lead to kidney failure. Though, as a positive match, Owen said it wouldn't be hard to find a transplant.
"I've got an extra one," Owen said then added with a laugh, "he'd have to do something to get it though."
Kyle will lead the Nittany Lion men's cross country team into the NCAA Championships on Monday in Terre Haute, Ind. Kyle and Owen will compete on the men's squad, and the women's squad will also be in action at the NCAA Championships. It marks the first year both teams are competing at the NCAA Cross Country Championships since 1994.