Illinois track triplets form three-quarters of a formidable relay team

In praising their star athletes, coaches often say, "I wish they all could be like that," but in the case of the Naperville (Ill.) Central High girls' track and field team, distance coach Matt Blondell nearly got his wish.

Under Blondell's guidance, triplets Katie, Nikki and Rachel Hoffman form three-fourths of one of the top 4x800-meter relay squads in the nation. And the Naperville Central juniors are just getting started.

Because the Hoffmans are often responsible for collecting points individually at distances ranging from 400-3,200 meters — a task they perform quite well — the trio rarely competes as part of the same relay team. But their first ever attempt, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, was an astonishing success.

During the indoor season last month, they ran the first three legs of the winning 4x800 with a time of 9:35.65 at the Proviso West's Lady Panthers Invitational. Their performance, anchored by sophomore Maggie McClowry, ranked as the nation's No. 87 effort among prep relays during the 2014 indoor season.

“I know of twins from around the state that have had success, but yeah, they’re the first triplets I’ve heard of," Blondell told the Sun-Times. In the early stages of the spring season, the hard-working Hoffmans have already exceeded his expecatations for the year. Blondell added, "I’d be happy with one of them, of course, but we’re fortunate to have three talented runners that are meant to be runners.”

Under Illinois High School Association rules, athletes are only allowed to enter four events at a given meet. Because Niki runs the 400 and 800, Rachel runs the 800 and 1,600, and Katie runs the 1,600 and 3,200, it can be confounding for everyone involved. As Rachel joked to the Sun-Times, "They thought I had run half the 4x8. Sometimes people get really confused."