Stride for stride, side by side

DES MOINES – One finished second to the other seven times at the Iowa Co-ed State Track and Field Championships on the famed blue oval.

At the state cross country competition, each came in as runner-up to the other.

Brooke was North Tama High School’s valedictorian in 2008. Blaire was salutatorian.

Less than a year ago, Blaire was the maid of honor in Brooke’s wedding.

And if you must know, Blaire was born 29 minutes before Brooke.

On Saturday, the pair of paragons for running in the state were inducted into the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union’s Track and Field Hall of Fame the only way they could be – side by side.

The famed Dinsdale twins fittingly accepted their honors together on Saturday at the midpoint of the final day of the state track meet, where 16 times from 2005-08 they were crowned champions of one event or another.

The quintessential middle distance mavins from Traer helped lead North Tama to three Class 1A state track and field team championships, an all-time record of 110 team points in 2008, and more hard-to-forget moments than any easy-to-confuse set of identical twins who ever touched the shimmering blue surface inside Drake Stadium.

An announced crowd of 8,133 track and field fans – most of whom could probably recall one race involving the Dinsdales from their heralded prep careers – applauded loudly as Brooke (Dinsdale) Schupbach and Blaire Dinsdale, in no particular order, rounded out the weekend’s four-person induction class.

“It’s great, I’m so honored and so blessed,” Brooke said. “I’m very thankful that we grew up in the state of Iowa because Iowa has such a great tradition of high school track and field.

“It is a little bit (emotional) because I see the heartache and the triumph and the good times that they experience and I remember back to when I had those same times, so it is kind of emotional but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

By the time the Dinsdale twins headed off to the University of Nebraska, the duo had combined to win 16 state track titles – eight apiece. Brooke won the 3,000- and 1,500-meter runs twice each, the 800 once, and anchored the Redhawks’ distance medley relay team to three championships.

Blaire dominated the 400 hurdles for three years, had two 800 titles, won the open 400 and the 1,500 once and joined up with the distance medley for its still-standing 1A record-setting performance in 2007.

Both have one individual Class 1A record remaining from the many they broke during their heyday. Brooke’s winning 800 time of 2:09.60 from 2006 remains, as does Blaire’s winning effort of 4:37.75 in the 1,500 from 2008. Brooke’s 2006 record-setting performance in the 3,000 was uprooted on Thursday.

Both of them have an individual Drake Relays title and a pair of 4×800 flags, while Brooke won two state cross country crowns and Blaire another.

Their love for running was always evident in the way they competed against one another, but their love for each other was something they never really showed during their glory days. Not difficult to understand, considering one was always finishing in front of the other.

“As hard as it is to finish 1-2, because we both want to win, but then we both want the other one to win more than we want to win ourselves,” Blaire said. “It was just that competitive spirit that one of us fuels the other one.”

Not to make a competition out of it, but Brooke may have said it best.

“I don’t know how to explain it. I know we both would not be here without each other. I’m very thankful to have her and so happy we were so close in our times and very competitive with each other.

“I’m really thankful that I have her. I owe her much of my success and vice versa.”

In 2006, their sophomore years, Brooke was named the Gatorade Athlete of the Year for girls’ track and field in Iowa. Blaire was named a high school All-American by USA Today.

At Nebraska, the pair picked up a combined seven all-Big 12 Conference honors before graduating last spring. Their recruitment out of high school could have gone differently though. Both of them were pursued by Missouri, Kansas and Wisconsin in addition to Nebraska, while Blaire also considered Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa.

“We questioned at one point if we were going to go separate ways but honestly we couldn’t imagine it,” Brooke said of their recruitment out of high school. “We were very happy with our decision, we don’t regret any of it today and we’re very happy to be a part of two conference championships (at Nebraska), so that was an honor and very exciting.”

At Nebraska, they teamed up with former Tipton standout Ashley Miller, who last spring was inducted into the IGHSAU Track and Field Hall of Fame, too.

“We watched Ashley last year and we looked at each other like, ‘That’d be so awesome if we could do it next year,'” said Blaire, “and now we’re thinking that it would be awesome if Sara (Stoakes) could get in next year. That would say a lot for our school and our program.”

Stoakes, too, is a shoo-in after being a part of those three aforementioned state team titles and winning another on her own in her senior campaign at North Tama.

“You’re done but people still stop you and remember you and that’s what is awesome about high school sports in general, and especially track and field, in Iowa,” Blaire said. “All these people still know all these names, they remember the names and obviously it helps that there’s two of us in the same events and finishing so close together.”

Now, they’re farther from each other than ever before. Blaire resides in Waterloo, where she works for Northwestern Mutual. Brooke lives with her husband, Taylor, in Urbandale, and she is the middle distance coach on the Urbandale High School track team.

“I’m so excited to be coaching now and to be back in it. I know my girls were happy to have me but more than that, I was happy to have them because I missed it so much and I’m very happy to be coaching now,” Brooke said.

The Dinsdale twins were joined in this year’s Hall of Fame class by Meredith (Kosmacek) Simon of Tri-Center and Faith Burt from Cedar Falls. Kosmacek won seven state titles and Burt had 13, both of them winning the 100-meter dash four times. They both went on to compete collegiately – Kosmacek at Northern Iowa and Burt at Wartburg.