Torrey Pines, Carlsbad lean on sets of twins on the track

Karina Janik, Dominika Janik, Morgan Herbst and Makena Herbst
Karina Janik, Dominika Janik, Morgan Herbst and Makena Herbst all shine on the track.
(Phil Grooms

One could hardly blame high school track fans for wondering if they’re seeing double.

That is especially true when following Torrey Pines and Carlsbad.

Torrey Pines has nine sets of twins among its 250 track athletes, with seniors Karina and Dominika Janik leading the way.

Carlsbad only has one set of twins, but sophomores Makena and Morgan Herbst seem to be everywhere with quality performances in any number of events.

The Janik and Herbst twins figure to make a major impact in Saturday’s section championships at Mt. Carmel High School. The 9 a.m. meet serves as the qualifier for the state championships in Clovis the following weekend.

Karina Janik is probably the most recognizable of the four after she stunned eventual state champion Kapiolani Coleman in last year’s section championships with a career-best time of 42.38 seconds in the long hurdles before claiming the bronze medal in the state meet.

“She can break 42 seconds,” said Torrey Pines coach Ryan Bath of the technically sound hurdler who moved with her sister from Poland as freshmen.

“The others will push her to a fast time, so this is setting up nicely.”

Coleman suffered an ankle injury before the prelims last Saturday, which could well thrust Karina Janik into one of the favorite roles.

The event, which San Diego has dominated the last two years, features San Diego High sophomore Anisa Bowman-Fontenot, who has a best of 44.19, but is better known for the short hurdles, and Morgan Herbst, who has gone 43.56 this season and was impressive in the Division I prelims last weekend.

“It took a little convincing,” said coach Matt Large of talking Morgan into trying the hurdles. “Our hurdle coach (Charles Daniel) had her do the drills but it wasn’t until she ran her first race that she was able to overcome her anxiety.

“But she’s a 200-meter runner, and she’s getting more and more comfortable.”

Makena Janik (56.65) had the second-fastest 400 qualifying time in the Division I prelims and cruised to a wind-aided 25.00 in the 200. Nothing comes easy in the section finals, though, as the heavy favorite in the 400 will be La Jolla’s Payton Smith, who has clocked a time of 54.12.

Both schools’ relay teams are set to scorch a little, too.

Dominka Janik will be looking for a state berth in the 100 hurdles as well. She has run 15.61 behind the wind-aided 14.01 by Bowen-Fontenot.

A quick look at the numbers shows the Torrey Pines duo contributing up to 45 points (counting relays) and Lancers duo as many as 37 to their team totals. Perennial Division I powers Rancho Bernardo and Del Norte are the pre-meet favorites.

Both sets of twins’ coaches say the sister element ever-present.

“When they warm up, they’re completely in sync, step for step,” said Bath of Karina and Dominika Janik. “It’s cool to see. When they race each other, they both want to win, but they’re still sisters after the race.”

Things are similar at Carlsbad.

“They both want to win but they always cheer for each other,” said Large. “Morgan is very quiet, her sister is more demonstrative. A big part is they have good DNA in that their dad was a national-level cyclist and their mom ran track.”

Both coaches agree that two for the price of one is a good deal.

Twins on the track

Dominika Janik, Torrey Pines, Sr.: Headed to UC Davis in the fall. She placed seventh in the state 300-hurdles a year ago, but has dropped that event to focus on the 100-meter hurdles in addition to running in a loaded 800 before wrapping up the day in the 4x400 relay.

Karina Janik, Torrey Pines, Sr.: Still sorting out which colleges she’ll attend, the Falcons runner will seek to defend her section title in the 300-meter hurdles. She’ll also seek to help the Falcons and her sister advance in both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays that sandwich the championships.

Makena Herbst, Carlsbad, So.: It’s difficult to say if Herbst is a sprinter who can jump to the 400 or a quarter miler who has the speed to step down to the 200. So she’ll run both events. She’ll join her sister in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

Morgan Herbst, Carlsbad, So.: She and her coaches decided early this week to drop the 200, allowing her to focus on an event she had never run before this year — the 300-meter hurdles. All she did was qualify first with a personal-best time of 43.56. She’ll also run both short relays.