Freshmen Hannah and Haley Meier seem to be nearly the same person. The sisters are identical twins, so they are the same height, have the same dark brown hair and even sound the same. But the most striking similarity is that both have been key runners for Duke this season.
Haley jokes that she likes to play the piano and read while her sister likes to watch TV, but the pair share many of the same interests and feelings about their experience running for the Blue Devils.
“At Duke we don’t have a lot of time to do other things,” Haley said. “It’s either running or school, so we aren’t very different there. But we don’t like all the same things. We just do whatever we feel like. We’re definitely not the same person, but we do have some similarities.”
Originally, the Michigan natives were not sure that they would attend the same college. While Hannah was leaning towards Duke, Haley was considering Notre Dame. But when they visited Duke together, they had the same reaction.
“We thought at the same time that this school is amazing, and I want to go here,” Hannah said.
“Once we got here, we fell in love with it,” Haley said. “We just had this feeling that this is where we were supposed to be and where we could really see ourselves. It has turned out to be incredible, and we really love it here.”
The Meier sisters boast an impressive combined high school resume.
As an 11-time Michigan state champion—with repeat titles in the 800-meter and 1,600-meter races—and eight-time national champion, Hannah earned six All-America honors in her four years at Grosse Point South High School. She was also named the Michigan Track and Field Athlete of the Year by ESPN in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and Miss Track & Field for the State of Michigan in 2013.
Haley shares state championship titles with her sister from the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter relays. She was runner-up in the mile at the state championships all four years in high school. She received three All-America honors and was ranked among the top high school distance runners throughout her high school career.
Their interests diverge some academically, despite the fact that they are taking three of the same classes this semester. Hannah said that she is undecided about future areas of study, but the time Haley has spent tutoring at a local elementary school has solidified her interest in education.
“I’ve really enjoyed the experience,” Haley said. “I really enjoy spending time with little kids and helping them learn new things.”
Haley does have a talent for connecting with young kids, her sister said.
“Little kids love her, and I feel like they don’t like me as much as they like her,” Hannah said.
The sisters agree that their best experience at Duke has been training and competing with the Blue Devils and head coach Kevin Jermyn.
Even with doubled mileage and much stronger competition, the girls on the team made the Meier sisters feel at home at Duke from the start of training.
“Our team has been incredibly supportive,” Haley said. “They’ve been guiding us through step-by-step. If we were normal students coming here, we wouldn’t have that with people who care so much about us already.”
From their first race as Blue Devils at the Adidas Challenge in September, the sisters established themselves as Duke’s third and fourth scoring runners. Hannah finished seconds ahead of Haley in the 5,000-meter race at the Adidas Challenge, and Haley finished ahead of her sister in the siblings’ first 6,000-meter race at the Wisconsin Invitational.
The pair hopes to continue to make a positive impact on the team’s score at the ACC Championships in Kernersville, N.C., this weekend, but both are nervous to run in only their second 6,000-meter race.
“I’m hoping I can do better at this meet than last meet,” Hannah said about the Wisconsin Invitational. “I was just getting off of a sickness, and I was way back there. I’m nervous but excited at the same time. I think our team can do really well.”
Haley said she is nervously optimistic about the race. Despite her jam-packed high school resume, she does not have as much race experience as some of her freshman teammates after being hampered by injury and illness throughout her final two years of high school competition.
“I’m not sure how this is going to go, but I’m going to absolutely try my hardest,” she said. “I’m just excited to be back and healthy and to score some points for our team.”