WALDOBORO — Longtime Medomak Valley High School cross-country coach George Gould said he avoids the word “potential” to describe young student-athletes, but when he watches Ava and Kaylee Collamore work daily to become the best versions of themselves as distance runners, he sees plenty of “potential.”
Perhaps even limitless “potential?”
That “potential” was clear as the freshmen student-athletes proved double trouble — and often created double vision — for opponents early in their high school running careers.
The 15-year-old identical twins helped keep the Panthers on course and gave the successful program a competitive boast in the fall of 2022.
The Waldoboro residents often ran fairly close together and surely made other competitors do a double take. They consistently challenged for top positions and Ava usually was close to the lead pack of competitors.
Gould, who has guided more than 100 high school varsity teams for four decades and accumulated more than 1,700 wins, said he needs to use the word “potential” when he speaks about the siblings.
“I have coached so many athletes and these girls are two of the best,” he said. “They are good enough to keep an old coach staying around for a few more years.”
The coach’s sentiment is a true indicator the Collamores have it and that it is, well, “potential.”
The sisters helped lead the Panthers to a state Class B championship meet berth and among 98 runners who trekked across the 5-kilometer, or 3.1-mile course, at Twin Brook on Oct. 29 in Cumberland, Ava finished 18th in 20:57.50 and Kaylee 33rd at 21:56.03.
In the Class B North race on Oct. 22 in Belfast, among 80 runners, Ava finished fifth (21:07) and Kaylee seventh (21:18). Both would have qualified as individuals for the state meet.
At the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B/C championships on Oct. 15 in Augusta, Ava finished fourth (22:11) and Kaylee 40th (28:16).
At the prestigious and talent-laden Festival of Champions, which includes top out-of-state runners, on Oct. 1 in Belfast, among 533 female athletes, Ava finished 57th (21:04) and Kaylee 172nd (22:49).
The Callomores are close to Gould’s heart because they love to run. They have always loved to run. As Kaylee puts it: “I never really got into running, I’d like to say I’ve always been in it.”
Added Ava: “I didn’t even start school yet when I figured out I liked to run. I always ran when I was little and I’ve always had lots of endurance.”
The sisters certainly have endurance and often appeared to glide across the course.
“Kaylee and Ava are a coach’s dream come true,” Gould said. “Amazing student-athletes. Both are exceptionally talented and always looking to improve. As freshmen they are both team leaders and have been from day one.
Strong, kind, thoughtful, and appreciative.”
The Collamores succeeded early in their competitive running careers despite being relatively new to the sport.
They essentially were exposed to cross country at Medomak Middle School. Kaylee, while Ava played soccer for the Riverhawks.
Then they combined forces to take high school running by storm this fall. But that almost did not happen, because one of them thought about continuing to play soccer.
“I realized that running was way more simpler than soccer, but very breathtaking,” Ava said. ” I wanted to do soccer for one more time in eighth grade since it would be the last year I’d be able to have fun doing it before high school. Then starting ninth grade, I did soccer for a few weeks off and on, but then Kaylee and I figured out cross country was happening. So we hopped on the cross-country team for a practice day in the rain, and from then on we knew cross country was ‘the go.’ ”
The Collamore twin sisters on the run. Photo by Ken Waltz
The siblings enjoy running for similar, but also distinctly different, reasons.
“The thing I like about running is seeing your progression,” Kaylee said. “To me, it gives me the most ecstatic feeling when I’ve broken my [personal record]. One more thing I have to add to my list of favorite things about running, if I’m being totally frank with you, is the competition.
She added, “Running does take a lot of work and dedication, but, surprisingly, those are two of the big reasons why I do it. I like being active, rather than the other way around.”
Ava said she loves “the fact that you can have all kinds of roads, trails, paths, and places to run, you can run any time, any place. And you don’t need any fancy equipment or gear for running. I used, and still am using, my sneakers from more than a year ago. They still work. I don’t always use a watch when I’m running, sometimes I just run if I don’t feel good.”
Ava said running can be therapeutic and emotionally calming, as she sometimes goes for runs to help improve her mood.
“I know running is hard and takes lots of dedication, but it gives me a relaxing, accomplished feeling after I’ve ran,” Ava said, adding she loves to go to McDonald’s after a meet and her coaches are an inspiration and they “always kept my head held high.”
While they are not in athletically competitive mode at the moment, with the cross-country season finished, the sisters stay active.
“Because of my passion for running I want to keep getting better so I try to run at least five times a week,” Ava said. “Kaylee and I run on the treadmills during study hall, after school on the treadmills, and outside around the high school or on the road. Usually I do at least 20 minutes of running and a five-minute cool down.”
Kaylee said she runs 10 to 15 miles a week. “I most definitely don’t run as much as I did while doing cross country, but Ava and I are still doing bits and pieces of workouts together to stay in shape for track and field, where I’m specifically excited for the 800-meter run, and triple jump.
For races, Kaylee said her strategy is to keep her pace. “I do this by letting nothing phase me, not even someone passing me. I will do this until I start approaching the 400-meter mark before the finish, where I will then speed up into a sprint.”
Ava said she was nervous and had extra adrenaline for her first high school race, the Panther preseason two-miler in August.
“I had so much stress and anxiety, but then once the race started I felt fine,” Ava said. “Of course, I get exhausted and my body aches like crazy, but then I remember I’m on a team so it makes me work 10 times harder because I want to make people proud and I want to finish the race with great triumph.
“At first, I thought a 5K race every week was a lot, but after every race I got stronger and kept making progress so I got excited for races and my stress decreased. I don’t necessarily have any strategies or techniques for when I’m running. Although I do have a few, in the beginning of the race because of my adrenaline I just blast off so I can get in front, then I won’t have to worry about passing people during the race as much. Whenever I see someone ahead of me I try my hardest to sprint past them with big strides and fast swinging arms. I keep my pace while I’m going up a hill because I know people will try and pass me, and I sprint as fast as I can down hills. Also, at the end of the race I always pick my speed up as much as I can to the finish line. The faster I go the faster it’s over.”
The sisters certainly support one another, but also are competitive with one another — to a point.
Ava said Kaylee is a “big encourager. I probably wouldn’t run as hard as I do if it wasn’t for my twin.”
“We’re always in competition with each other, even when we’re just on a daily run and we see each other going just a foot in front of ours we’ll speed up, and we don’t tell each other to slow down, so we’ll continuously speed up and slow down,” Ava said.
Kaylee added: “I could not imagine not having a twin sister that I can run with. Having a twin sister that runs helps me push myself to my limits, which explains the next question, why there is very much competition with the both of us? There is definitely competition between Ava and I. For example, if one of us is to get in front of one another while running, we’ll do this on-going repetition of each of us trying to get ahead of each other.”
So how alike are the twins? It depends on whom you ask.
“That’s right, we are identical,” Kaylee said. “However, that’s just on our birth certificates. I could name so many differences between us, but the main ones are that, Ava’s taller, and I have a wider face shape. Ava and I have pretty similar personalities, we both love to laugh, and are very energetic around people we know, but a bit bashful the other way around.
“Also, I have to add that we are major foodies. Our running styles are pretty much the same. Considering, Ava and I have been to the same places, do the same sports, watch the same movies, have the same family, and live in the same house, kinda makes it impossible for us to not think alike. Usually daily, Ava and I blurt out the same words, or one of us says something and the other says, ‘I was just thinking that.’ ”
Ava added: “I’m very thankful to have a twin because it’s like having a permanent friendship forever. However there are some cons to having an identical twin. People are constantly comparing the two of us and it’s become normal to hear: “Kaylee” instead of “Ava.” The most common differences between Kaylee and I have always been our height and head shape. I’ve always been taller than Kaylee, and I have a more oval head shape than Kaylee’s. Usually if you get to know us though, you’ll get better.
“I can’t personally tell that much difference in Kaylee and [mine’s] personality, we think very similar, we’re in all the same classes in school except homeroom, and we like to do most of the same things. I tend to be the morning person. Although, I wouldn’t get right up in the morning and go for a run. Kaylee and [my] running style used to be exactly alike, then Kaylee started to slowly creep farther and farther behind me so she had to start running slower in the start of races and have more energy for the end.”
The siblings said they were determined to perform well as freshmen runners, but, ultimately, were surprised by their success.
They helped the Panthers qualify for the state Class B championship meet.
“Being such a strong runner as a freshman is very exciting to me and makes me want to excel in running for as long as I can,” Ava said. “It feels nice to have something I’m good at — no doubt will my future involve running. I hope to complete a full marathon [at some point] in my life and some more littler marathon runs. For example, I look forward to the 5K race held in Waldoboro.”
Kaylee added: “Being a freshman and already being faster than a lot of people with more experience is startling to me. I really treasure every moment because I’ve never been able to experience anything like this, such as when I did ball sports, like basketball, and soccer.”
The sisters said they will continue to create friendships and bonds through running and normal teenage growth, but also enjoy many other aspects of young life, including cooking, baking and especially eating.
Kaylee said she has tried most sports, including softball, basketball, soccer and field hockey, “but clearly I have found the most love in running.”
Running, however, certainly is not all the siblings do.
Kaylee said: “I love going on hikes with my mom and sister. I absolutely love trying out new baking recipes, and then sometimes if they turn out delicious we will bring some over to our neighbors, Jan and Donna, and Jan will return our dish with something she made. I also love to bike, especially in the rain when it’s cold because it makes me feel so free.
“My dad, my sister and I recently got chickens and I have been very much enjoying cleaning their poop off their shelf. I am also so ecstatically excited for when they start laying eggs. Whenever I go over to my friends houses I always ask if they’ve gotten the eggs yet, because I want to. One more thing I love to do is watch movies with my mom. One of my favorite movies to watch with her is Elf. I’ve always wanted to try spaghetti mixed with syrup, and pop•tarts, for breakfast.
Ava said said she loves “cracking peoples’ backs, going trick-or-treating, looking at the random free clothes my mom and dad bring home from places, mowing the lawn, the movie ‘Dukes of Hazards’ (I watch it almost every weekend at my dad’s), taking walks or doing any activity with my mom/dad/sister, my mom’s Shepherd’s pie, my dad’s sweet-and-sour kielbasa, Jan (my neighbor’s) chocolate chip cookies, and going to the movies and sneaking in snacks. I am not a fan of my hair down. I always put up or braid my hair.”
The Collamores said there are other interesting facts about them some may not know, quirky things specific to their personalities.
For example, Ava said she mixes water with milk. “I absolutely love milk, it makes my food 10 times better. I just add water to it so I can have more milk. It saves milk too. Never know when you’ll need that last cup of milk for cereal. One time I had to put orange juice in my cereal because we were out of milk. It wasn’t bad.”
And what about Kaylee? Is there anything that makes her even more unique?
“One thing most people don’t know about me is that my favorite candy is Snickers … period.”
The Collamores are the daughters of Amy Boureau and Keith Collamore. “I am so unbelievably grateful to have the most supportive parents,” Kaylee said.
So much support and guidance for sisters who look to reach their “potential” — one step at a time.