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Prep cross country: Shields twins lead Salisbury

By Bret Strelow
bstrelow@salisburypost.com
Salisbury cross country runner Katherine Shields won the Rowan County Meet, and Emily Shields edged her twin sister for first place at the CCC championships.
The order of finish often changes, but they’ve embraced certain roles from the very beginning.
Emily was born at 5:59 p.m. on Sept. 14, 1993. Katherine was born one minute later.
“Teachers will ask if anybody has a younger sibling,” Katherine said, “and she’ll raise her hand.”
The Shields twins led Salisbury’s girls to second place in the 2A Midwest Regional at Dan Nicholas Park on Saturday. Doreen Richardson, Margaret Kaufmann and Taylor Slate also scored as the Hornets qualified for this weekend’s state meet in Clemmons.Katherine was the regional runner-up at 19:57 ó one second behind Wilkes Central’s Laney Browder ó and Emily took third in 20:40.
Born six weeks premature, Emily and Katherine were monoamniotic twins ó twins that share a placenta and an amniotic sac but have separate umbilical cords for nourishment.
Monoamniotic twins are very rare and have a high mortality rate because of cord entanglement (given the close proximity) and twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (one receives the majority of nourishment, leaving the other malnourished).
The umbilical cords for Emily and Katherine became very entangled.
“We were really lucky they survived,” said Lynn Pitson, their mother.
Emily weighed 4 pounds, 6 ounces at birth; Katherine was 4 pounds, 12 ounces.
People that have known the sisters for years still struggle to tell them apart. Katherine has shorter hair and often wears an orange watch while competing.
“Most people, we tell them my name’s shorter but my hair’s longer,” Emily said. “She’s the opposite. Short hair, long name.”
The sisters are serious about running and cycling.
Kerry Shields introduced cycling to his daughters when they were 10. Pitson started racing with Emily and Katherine at the same time.
The girls are currently concentrating on cyclocross ó a multi-surface form of racing that forces the rider to dismount and carry the bike at times while navigating an obstacle-filled path. Kerry built a course at Salisbury Community Park about five minutes from the family’s house, and cyclocross season coincides with cross country.
“They’re both really good cross-training for each other,” Katherine said. “When we start cyclocross, I already have all the endurance I need, especially from doing road all summer and then cross country.”
Emily finished second in the junior women’s 13-14 division of the 2006 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships in Providence, R.I.
The nationals were in Kansas City, Mo., each of the last two years, and Katherine had a pair of top-five finishes in the 15-16 division.
Emily and Katherine, again representing the Carolina Masters team, will head to Bend, Ore., in early December for the 2009 nationals.
“We go to a lot of races because we all want to go,” Emily said. “We’re all very competitive against each other, which is fun.”

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