Eagan wins in this speedy sibling rivalry

  • Article by: DAVID LA VAQUE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 19, 2014 - 9:11 PM

Jake and Maddie Gourley, among the top sprinters in the state, are pushing each other to new heights.

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Maddie, a sophomore, and Jake Gourley, a senior, are all business in the starting blocks. “It’s the first one to the finish line, and you can’t be nice about it,” Jake said.

Photo: Bruce Bisping • bbisping@startribune.com, Star Tribune

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Eagan sprinter Jake Gourley, his right leg aching, competed gamely at last spring’s track and field state meet but could only muster a sixth-place finish in the 100-meter dash.

That didn’t stop a teammate from ribbing him that his younger sister and fellow sprinter, Maddie, would score more points based on her top finishes in the girls’ meet.

‘‘I hope she will this year,’’ Jake responded at the time. “But it won’t happen again.’’

Two of Minnesota’s top sprinters, the Gourleys are at once proud sibling rivals and each other’s biggest fans. Maddie, a sophomore, posted three all-state finishes at state last spring. Jake, a senior, holds the state’s fastest marks this year in the 100 (10.59 seconds) and 200 (21.6).

The recent revelation of Jake’s comment drew a smile but no surprise from Maddie.

“This is his last year of high school track, and I’m sure he wants it to be his year,” Maddie said. “I’d be happy for him if he did [score more points at state], but obviously I want to do well, too.”

The siblings are aiming for big goals this spring. Maddie seeks to lower her school records in the 100 and 200 and take down the 400 record. Her best time is one-hundredth of a second off the mark. She wants to finish in the top three at the state meet in all three events and said, “By senior year I want to win one event, at least.”

Smashing the state’s 11-year record of 10.45 in the 100 is one of Jake’s goals. Another is going faster than 21.20 seconds in the 200. He yearns to become a state champion in either individual event or as part of Eagan’s top-ranked 4x200 relay team. He won all three events at the Hamline Elite Meet in April on the same track where the state meet is competed in June.

“I was happy for him because I know he wants to win state really badly,” Maddie said. “I want him to do as well as I want myself to do.”

Overcoming injuries

Radiant performances at the Hamline Elite Meet helped ease Jake’s regret about two seasons hampered by injuries. A torn meniscus suffered in football required surgery right before his sophomore track season. Jake missed qualifying for state in the 100 by two-hundredths of a second.

He made the cut last year and finished sixth in the 100 at state despite acute right leg pain. Doctors later discovered a stress fracture. Brushing aside anything resembling an excuse, Jake said, “I’ve got a lot of fire this year knowing that in the past two years I had more to give. I need to get done what I feel should have been done a long time ago.”

Though inspired by what she called her brother’s “courageous” performance at state, Maddie also brings toughness to the track. She lost half of her eighth-grade season to an ankle injury but refused to let much else get in her way.

Accidentally cut while picking up a starting block at the South Suburban Conference meet last year, Maddie received medical attention but never lost focus.

“As she walked back to her lane, she had the look in her eyes that this 400 was going to special — and it was,” Wildcats girls’ track coach Rob Graham said. She won the 400 to sweep the sprint events.

Chris Gourley, who competed as a sprinter for Eveleth High School, said she and her husband, Brant, are thrilled to see their children sharing a special season.

“As parents it’s nice because you hate to see one of them up and one of them down,” Chris said. “We ask ourselves, ‘Will we ever get to see both of them happy at the same time?’ ”

‘You can’t be nice’

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