COLUMBIA — Hickman's Nasia and Taalor Stevenson started running at an early age before they even knew they had any ability for track and field.
“I didn’t really even like running until I got here and found out I was good,” Nasia Stevenson said.
The sisters began running in Hershey Track and Field events around 2003. Hershey is a national program that has meets in cities all over the United States. It has state, regional and national meets for 9- to 14-year-olds.
Nasia Stevenson remembers running for Hershey.
“I actually still have two or three first-place ribbons from that summer.”
Unlike the Hershey program, school track and field programs usually begin in the sixth grade, around age 12. But for Nasia and Taalor Stevenson, running came at ages 6 and 8.
“Well, we started early because our mom made us,” Taalor Stevenson joked.
Nasia Stevenson stepped in, “Our mom ran for MU. That’s why we started.”
Nasia and Taalor Stevenson’s mother, Kellee Eubanks, ran track for Missouri in 1984. Now, Nasia and Taalor Stevenson have taken after their mother.
Nasia Stevenson, a junior at Hickman, runs the 400-meter dash like her mom and also runs legs of the Kewpies' 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 relays.
“I really like the 400-meter dash because it’s an individual event, and I only have to rely on myself,” Nasia Stevenson said.
Recently this season, Nasia Stevenson has been having problems with injuries. Twice a week she has been swimming during practices to ease the pressure put on her shins.
“I’m hoping that my shins get a lot better, so I can run,” Nasia Stevenson said.
Taalor Stevenson, a sophomore at Hickman who is 21 months younger than her sister, runs the 200-meter dash and in the same relays as her sister. The 200-meter dash is Taalor Stevenson’s preferred event.
“It’s my best event," Taalor Stevenson said. "There is lots of competition, and I’m pretty good at it."
Taalor Stevenson said her goals this season are simple.
“Keep up with my sister,” Taalor Stevenson laughed as she used her sister as an armrest.
Because the girls participate in the same events, often times their workouts are similar.
“They are both in the same group, but they don’t do their workouts together,” said Luke Neal, who coaches the relays for Hickman.
Nasia Stevenson said she hopes to go as fast as 57 seconds in the 400-meter dash this season. Taalor Stevenson said she wants to break 25 seconds in the 200-meter dash this season.
Neal has worked with the girls since they began running for Hickman. He remembers when Taalor Stevenson was a freshman and Nasia Stevenson was a sophomore.
“Taalor didn’t really know what to expect," he said. "But Nasia showed her the ropes."
Now things have changed.
“Taalor had taken more of the leadership role,” Neal said. “She has just become her own person.”
The sisters relationship has grown over the two seasons they have run at Hickman.
“We are much closer now,” Nasia Stevenson said. “I think the best part is running with my sister. It’s like a little bit of added competition.”
Taalor Stevenson said she agrees with her sister.
“We used to hate each other,” Taalor Stevenson said. “I’m always trying to do my best. She pushes me to work harder."