Robinson twins follow Olympian dad’s lead, fuel Young to Class 3A state track title
In beating runner-up Homewood-Flossmoor 53-44, the Dolphins became the first Public League girls track champ since Morgan Park won the Class AA title in 2002.
Albert Robinson knows firsthand the sacrifices required to be an elite runner.
He made them en route to earning a spot on the U.S. men’s 400-meter relay team for the Seoul (South Korea) Olympics in 1988.
So he wanted to make sure twin daughters Rachel and Sydney — now seniors at Young — understood what they would have to do if they wanted to follow in his footsteps.
‘‘I tried to discourage them from running,’’ Albert said. ‘‘I know if you want to be great, it’s a 100% commitment, not some of the shaky stuff you see other people doing.’’
Sydney remembers it a bit differently.
‘‘He was kind of getting on me to run track,’’ she said.
However it started, it’s hard to argue with the results. The Robinson twins each won four medals, including a trio of firsts, in leading Young to the Class 3A state title last weekend at Eastern Illinois in Charleston. In beating runner-up Homewood-Flossmoor 53-44, the Dolphins became the first Public League girls track champ since Morgan Park won the Class AA title in 2002.
Rachel and Sydney went first and second in the 100 at 12.03 and 12.08 seconds. They also led off and anchored, respectively, Young’s winning 400 and 800 relay teams in 47.84 seconds and 1 minute, 40.06 seconds. In the 200, it was Sydney in second (24.77) and Rachel (24.90) in third.
It was a rewarding finish to high school careers disrupted, like everyone else’s, by COVID-19. After a typical freshman season in 2019, the Robinsons lost their sophomore outdoor seasons to the pandemic and had only an abbreviated junior season that featured a limited schedule and a condensed state meet.
But they pushed on.
‘‘I knew that over quarantine I had to keep working and training because I knew the 2021 and 2022 seasons would be the most important of my high school career,’’ Rachel said.
‘‘There was no point in frustration,’’ Sydney said. ‘‘I just had to keep training.’’
The state meet wasn’t without its challenges, either. With storms in the forecast, IHSA officials went to a rolling schedule without rest breaks between events. Then there was a weather delay of more than two hours, creating a classic case of hurry-up-and-wait.
‘‘I chilled out for a little bit,’’ Sydney said. ‘‘When it was time to focus and go, that’s what I did.’’
‘‘The rolling schedule didn’t bother me,’’ Rachel said. ‘‘What bothered me was that there were a couple of lightning strikes before the [800 relay]. They did not do [another] weather delay, which they should have done.’’
The rain returned as the meet wound down, forcing officials to dispense with the usual team awards ceremony. But the Robinsons and their teammates knew what was coming before the scores were announced.
‘‘We weren’t nervous,’’ Rachel said. ‘‘Our coach likes to count the points. We knew we won state.’’
‘‘When it was announced, it felt real,’’ Sydney said. ‘‘Everybody was cheering and screaming.’’
Though their high school careers are over, the Robinsons are sticking together. They’re heading north to run for Wisconsin.
‘‘We liked Madison, we liked the team and we really liked the coach,’’ Rachel said.
Sydney felt the same way about the Badgers.
‘‘They had everything we wanted,’’ she said.
‘‘They were asking my opinion,’’ Albert said. ‘‘I kept telling them, ‘I’m not running.’ . . . It’s about what they want to do.’’