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Bond between Simmons, Wheeler has made them stronger

The Del Oro duo have dominated the hurdles and look to bring home Masters titles
By: Justin A. Lawson Journal Sports Writer
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A dominant athlete on a track team isn?t rare. Two isn?t an oddity either even if they run the same events. But to have two tantalizing stars head both the boys and girls hurdle teams is something most people don?t see. ?I?ve seen solid athletes and I?ve seen two girls,? Del Oro High senior Brie Simmons said. ?As far as a girl and guy, I?d say that?s pretty rare.? Simmons and Casey Wheeler, both seniors, have rewritten the Del Oro record books, secured Division I scholarships and are ready to end their careers with another epic performance today in the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters track and field championships at Elk Grove High. Simmons will compete for the 100 meter dash title as well, but it is the 100 and 300 meter hurdles that she is the most dangerous. She won the Division II title in all three events last week and placed second in the 200 meter. Wheeler?s 14.38 seconds in the 110 meter hurdles is the fastest in the section as is his 38.45 seconds in the 300 meter hurdles. He also runs one leg on the 4X400 relay team that is expected to contend for a title. The duo is more than just about numbers. They are competitors, whether it?s against opposing teams or each other. ?The idea of losing does not compute in their head,? Del Oro coach Dustin Fee said. ?They?re going to go out and go at it. It really speaks to their individual character itself. A lot of what they have is not coachable. They spend a lot of time with Coach (Jake) Hardey obviously, going over the technique and going over the speed development, but that mindset you can help to develop it, help to mold it a little bit, but most of that is just them as individuals.? During regular season matches Simmons and Wheeler have a hard time finding competition so instead the two find motivation in each other. Although Wheeler is faster than Simmons the two face off during practice. Wheeler will run the 110, while Simmons starts the race at the same time from the 100-meter mark. By the end of the race the two have pushed each other to the limit. ?I push myself so much harder in practice because I want to compete with her and we both have that ?I don?t want to lose? attitude,? Wheeler said. ?It?s a strong bond.? The extra competition has helped both. As a freshman Wheeler finished 23rd out of 26 in his first race and vowed to never finish that far behind again and he hasn?t. He has since gone on to capture the school record in both the 100 and 300. Wheeler also recently secured a scholarship to Sacramento State. Simmons has been just as impressive. She already owned the school records in the 110 and 300 prior to this season and picked up the long jump record at 17 feet, 7 inches to break the mark set in 1981. She will continue her career at BYU next season where she will compete in the heptathlon. While Simmons and Wheeler could easily focus on themselves in their last season at Del Oro, they instead have passed on their knowledge to the underclassmen in the hopes there will be another dominant duo someday. ?We kind of have a little hurdle family, we call it,? Simmons said. ?Casey and I are the mom and dad and we have all the young athletes that are our kids and we kind of train them but we make them feel at home too. It?s fun.?