If you have to navigate through a global pandemic — and lose your final season of track in the process — it’s better to go through it with your best friend … and your twin sister.
That’s according to Gemma and Marcella Krautzel, long-distance runners at Unionville.
The duo were projected to be major contributors for the outdoor season this spring for an Indians’ squad that boasted, perhaps, the deepest group of 800-meters-and-up runners in the Ches-Mont League. But the coronavirus threat forced the cancellation of the 2020 campaign.
“Our distance team was very strong and we graduated many key runners who never got a chance to race their senior year,” said Unionville head coach Mark Laciana.
“It has helped having somebody to go through all of this with,” Marcella added. “We’ve had so much either cancelled or taken away, and it’s very sad. But I feel bad for people who don’t have somebody to talk to, and are going through it with you. Your parents really can’t understand.”
Residents of East Marlborough Twp., they are fraternal twins. Marcella was born 12 minute before her sister.
“And she never lets me forget it,” Gemma laughed.
“I like to say that I get to call the shots,” Marcella added. “It’s won’t be a big deal as we get older, but it still is now.”
As youngsters, they played a myriad of sports, from softball to soccer to tennis to golf. But they probably never would have taken up running if it wasn’t for what happened in seventh grade at Patton Middle School.
“We were cut from the soccer team,” Gemma said.
“Our friend, Lauren Dougherty, talked us into going out for cross country, and we grew to love it.
“Honestly, it’s one of the better things to happen to us. I don’t think we would have gotten to the running sports if we had made the soccer team.”
The sisters made the varsity cross country team as high school freshmen, and the Indians won the Ches-Mont crown during their sophomore year. Unionville wound up placing sixth as a team at states in all four of their seasons.
“That’s pretty crazy,” Gemma said.
Marcella placed 22nd individually at states as a sophomore and added a 25th place finish as a senior. She also earned a spot on the track team as a freshman.
“I started taking running very seriously heading into my sophomore year and I noticed dramatic results in my times,” Marcella said.
It culminated when she placed ninth at the state meet in the 1,600-meter as a junior. Her best time was 5:04.
“I was confident she was going sub-five this spring,” Laciana said.
“I’ve improved not just in times but I’ve become more dedicated and determined to get better, and that will help carry into my college career,” Marcella added.
“I think I am on an upward trajectory to continue to improve.”
Marcella and Gemma were half of what was expected to be a potent 4×800 relay team that also included freshman Kaitlyn Wahl and junior Josie Cicchino.
“I wish we had a season because I was excited to see what we could do,” Gemma said.
“We would also joke with our coach about a twin handoff,” Marcella added. “We did some twin-on-twin handoffs at big meets and my mom was able to get some good pictures.”
Mom, Cristi, and dad, George, met while attending Villanova, so it should be no surprise that the twins are headed to college on the Main Line. Marcella was recruited to run track for ’Nova, and Gemma is planning to continue running in the school’s club program.
“Even though we are not rooming together, I’m sure we will be spending a lot of time together,” Marcella pointed out. “I think rooming apart will be a good thing so that we are not spending all of our time hanging out together and we can branch out.”
This summer, while Marcella is tackling a challenging off-season Villanova workout, Gemma is volunteering as a mentor and assistant coach with the Unionville girls’ cross country program.
“Gemma is a natural leader,” Marcella said. “She loves helping people — she cares about the team a lot more than herself.
“It’s been great to have a teammate that is also your twin and best friend. She’s been at every practice and meet, so we are able to share so many good memories.”
Gemma agreed: “Marcella is definitely my best friend. We share a love for running, we have the same group of friends and we do everything together.
“It’s great to have somebody to rely on and always be there for each other.”
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