Is it possible for two siblings to be equally good at the same sport and play for the same team? The Russo siblings on Penn’s cross country team have an answer to that.
Junior Anthony Russo has excelled representing the Quakers at every recent meet, coming in at 11th overall at Lehigh’s Paul Short Invitational last week. His younger sister, freshman Delia Russo, has also impressed recently, finishing 21st overall in the women’s open race at the same invitational.
But how did this shared success begin? The siblings began their careers at Colts Neck High School in New Jersey, eventually making it all the way to the state's Meet of Champions.
“My sister started running cross country her sophomore year of high school, and I was a little bit later, starting my junior year. So we’re both relatively new to cross country,” Anthony said. “We both were [already] doing well in track, a spring sport in high school, so we figured doing [cross country] in the fall and year-round would help our track seasons a lot. Once we actually did the sport, we pretty much fell in love with it.”
Ever since then, the relationship between both sibling athletes has been incredibly supportive. They both continuously hope for the other to succeed, helping out in the process through mutual ideas and strategies.
“We’ll compare our times, so [our relationship] is competitive in that nature, but more so supportive," Delia said. “If I’m ever having trouble with anything, I could always talk to [Anthony], since I feel like he has more experience."
“Anytime I see [Delia] have a good workout or race well, it definitely motivates me to race well or vice versa," Anthony said. “Or anytime she has a question about something with training or with a race, we feed ideas off each other. Competition helps both of us."
Moreover, Anthony’s presence as a star on the cross country team at Penn has helped Delia’s transition from high school to running on the college level. She didn't have to worry about joining the Quakers, as her brother would reassure her of the great dynamic of the team.
“I didn’t really have to think about things that other freshmen probably had to think about and stress about coming in, so it was good to have him just to have a smoother transition," she said. “From what [Anthony] described, I knew it would be a good fit for me."
What’s even more surprising is how it turned out to be somewhat of a coincidence that both athletes ended up at Penn. But it also turned out to be very convenient for their biggest fans — their parents — and ultimately the best choice for the two.
“Honestly, [Anthony] wasn’t really a factor in [deciding to go to Penn]. I wanted to go to Penn since my freshman year of high school, and once he got in, it pushed me to work even harder,” Delia said. “[Our parents] are definitely happy about it, because it makes everything so much easier for them, such as traveling to different meets. It’s nice because they can see both of us at once instead of having to choose which meet to go to.”
Both siblings strive to get better every day as they prepare for increasingly tougher meets throughout the fall season. In addition to their coaches, teammates, and friends, the siblings have each other as a resource to improve and lead the Red and Blue to future success.