Twin Track and Field Standouts; Twin Goals

December 31, 2012

STORRS, CT --- There is no greater test of an athlete’s ability than the decathlon.

And, for the University of Connecticut’s men’s track and field team, which in the past has produced several Big East winning decathletes, no two athletes stand out more than twins Jake and Ben Waruch.

“We just truly want to beat each other strait up,” said Ben on the competitive nature that continues to grow along with their success.

“We’ve always had mini competitions at home (in (Kerhonkson, N.Y.), such as a pushup or sit up contest to see who could do the most,” said Jake. “Being a decathlete is all about your competitiveness and physical abilities,” he said.

Unlike most collegiate sports, track and field is a 10-month season with out door meets in the fall and spring and indoor meets during the winter.

Last May, at the 2012 Outdoor Big East Championships in Tampa, Fla., competing as redshirt juniors, Jake and Ben Waruch placed first and second respectively, respectively in the decathlon, which marked the fourth consecutive year a Husky had won the title.

Jake won the two-day 10 event decathlon with 7,230 points while Ben joined his brother on the podium finishing right behind with 6,944 points in the two day event. Events are a mix of track and field and consist of: First Day: 100 meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meter run; Second Day: 110 meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, 1500 meter run

Fraternal twins, Jake is lean and chiseled, built for the high jump and hurdles, while Ben has a larger, stronger frame that works to his advantage in the throwing and running events.

The twins compete as hard against each other as they do against other athletes.

“Big meets are where the highest of competition comes through. But we encourage each other to do the best we can,” said Ben.

“We first want to beat everyone else there and then we get after each other,” said Ben.

Ben followed up his 2012 silver medal performance at the Big East Championships with strong performances at the IC4A Championships and NCAA East Regional Championships in the 2012 outdoor season.

But, the 2012 outdoor season would prove to be Jake’s breakout year as he was the lone Husky poised to head to Drake Stadium for the NCAA National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa in early June.

Having qualified for nationals earlier in the season at the Husky Invite with a personal best of 7,597 points, Jake prepared for his opportunity to compete at the highest collegiate level. Alas, it was not to be as during his warm-ups of the first event at Drake Stadium, he pulled his hamstring and was forced to withdraw from the competition.

“I was pissed off at the time because I was ready to go but now it’s just fuel to keep me hungry,” said Jake.

This is all an athlete can shoot for after suffering an injury, but in a sport like track and field where so much time and effort is expended in the hopes of doing one’s best when it counts, injuries can be especially challenging.

“Jake Waruch was fully prepared for the NCAA Championships, and to have lost his opportunity in this way is devastating,” said Head Coach Greg Roy, according to uconnhuskies.com.

“While disappointing, it will only serve to fuel Jake’s passion to continue to be the leader, competitor and person that we look to lead the program in 2013,” he said.   

“Ben and Jake’s competitive nature is able to affect the entire team whether it is in the weight room, during practice, or in the heat of a Big East Championship,” said Michael Alleman, a former track captain in the 2011-2012 seasons.

Now seniors, Ben and Jake look forward to the Huskies’ 2013 indoor and outdoor seasons, which begin early in January.

“Leading the team is a great feeling and doing it together is the best part of all,” said Ben.

“It means a lot to both of us, to be lucky enough to still be competing,” he said. “This is it for us so we get to give it everything we have for one last time,” he said about their senior years.

But their journeys began to take shape at Rondout Valley Central High School in Accord, N.Y., where they earned varsity letters in football and basketball, along with track.

When they were younger, they both realized that higher education would be instrumental to having a successful life.

“We decided that we would try to get into a school that we could get a scholarship in because we wanted to help our parents as much as we could,” said Ben.

The twins were thinking of attending other schools until they visited UConn, Ben said, “We felt it was the best fit because we wouldn’t get homesick because it was close and looked the most like our home in New York.”

Ben had offers from Syracuse and Hofstra for football while Jake had an opportunity to play basketball at the University of Massachusetts, but they decided on track at UConn for a number of reasons.

“Track was a sport that we both decided to play because Jake and I wanted to go to a place where we would compete all four years,” said Ben.

Both brothers will graduate this spring with Bachelor of Arts degrees from UConn, Ben in kinesiology and Jake in environmental science.

Ben plans on pursuing a career in coaching while Jake plans to find a job as an environmental officer.

For now, however, as the track season begins in the bitter cold of winter and eases into the warmth of spring, these two brothers’ years of training may lead them in their quests for the gold. 

Justin Siekierski is a journalism student at the University of Connecticut. He wrote this story for his fall 2012 sports writing course.

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