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On your mark: STJ freshmen twins ready to race

Distance runner Therese Gallagher isn’t looking too far ahead, determined to build a solid running base at St. John’s, with her sister by her side.
St. John’s Athletics
By Laura Amato

They’re not really a package deal, it just always seems to work out that way.

St. John’s freshmen — and twin sisters — Therese and Jackie Gallagher weren’t planning on going to college together, but the pair found a home together on Union Turnpike and the sisters are hoping to make a name for themselves on the track.

“We ran track at Bishop Kearney together, so we knew that we wanted to run in college,” Therese said. “We didn’t need to go to the same school, but it just happened that way. St. John’s wasn’t even on our radar. But then later on, on a whim, we ended up talking more to the coach and we really liked the team and the campus when we came to visit. It was just the place that we wanted.”

The Gallaghers come from a long line of running talent – the pair accounts for two of nine siblings and their older sister, Keri, served as their inspiration, both on and off the track.

“She ended up really liking it and had a lot of success, so by the time we got to 8th grade and were deciding where we wanted to go, we already knew that we had to do track and cross country, because Keri had set the bar,” Therese said. “Everybody behind her, we all did track and cross country.”

Both Therese and Jackie honed their skills at Bishop Kearney, but the freshmen are the first to admit that they rely on each other to improve their running approach. They were each other’s most supportive teammates during high school and that hasn’t changed at the collegiate level, although now there are just a few more athletes on the roster.

“In high school, we had a very small team and at one point it was actually just like me and Therese on the team, so I’ve never really experienced having a full team,” said Jackie, who clinched multiple Brooklyn-Queens titles at Kearney. “It’s a new experience that I’ve never had, which I really appreciate.”

Jackie and Therese both run distance for St. John’s, but they each have their own speciality, and while they’re not always competing together, they’re almost always pushing each other to improve.

“Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be without [Therese],” Jackie said. “She’s very important to me, not just running, but all aspects of my life. She helps me put myself out there and believe in myself and actually push myself. Without her, I don’t know what I’d do.”

The sisters are rarely without each other – they’re also living together on campus – and running is as much a part of their lives as ever. The Gallagher family has participated in a handful of 5Ks together and while they’re teammates at St. John’s, both Jackie and Therese admit to being a bit competitive with each other.

The two have each competed regularly at St. John’s this year and while their times aren’t perfect, both Gallaghers know the future is bright. This is just another challenge for them and both Therese and Jackie can’t wait to see what’s next.

“The future is to just, honestly, get better,” Therese said. “It’s more about personal development, for me, than it is just setting ridiculous goals. But in the future, I would like to do well and score well at the Big East championships.”

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