Track stars, Moskowitz twins now run different paths
Shane and Shannon Moskowitz are two of the best distance runners Kitsap County has produced.
After their graduation from Central Kitsap in 2010, the twins left to run in major college programs. Shane went to Stillwater, Okla., to run for top-ranked Oklahoma State. Shannon headed to Boise State.
In two years since, the twins have found different paths. Shane is still at Oklahoma State and poised for a successful career. Shannon left competitive running behind and is a medical technician in the Air Force.
Oklahoma State coach Dave Smith has seen it countless times.
A state champion in high school comes to a Cowboys' program that is the one of the best in the nation. The new competition is so steep, and the top runners so far ahead, keeping up can feeling like climbing a mountain.
Shane stood at the bottom of the mountain two years ago, looking up at the long path ahead. The mileage to dominate at the high school level wasn't going to get it done in the Big 12.
"He was struggling for his first year," Shannon said. "I was worried."
Shane, who won five state titles at Central Kitsap, redshirted his second season, preferring to work on building his endurance base by running more mileage. After a rough indoor track season last winter, he got things together for the outdoor season. He earned All-Big 12 honors by taking eighth in the 1,500 meters, and advanced to the NCAA regionals.
Shane, now a redshirt sophomore for the Cowboys, appears to have climbed the mountain.
Smith credits Shane's summer training, a month of which was spent running in Colorado's thin air at 9,000 feet.
"Once we came back down, you could tell a difference," Shane said, referring to the benefits of additional oxygen available at sea level. "You could run long and fast."
It wasn't just the summer spent in the mountains. Shane has also upped his training mileage, building his endurance base by running 100 miles per week. Smith also points out that Shane, a finance major, has started doing little things that help athletes but may not come naturally for college kids, such as going to bed early.
The top seven runners make the team that runs at nationals. Those top seven change often based on performance.
Smith graduated three All-Americans off last year's team, which had finished second at the NCAA national championships after winning the previous two years. The other runners could smell the blood in the water in terms of open spots on that top seven.
And Shane is among those running for one of the seven spots.
The problem is that after the top three (each is a returning All-American), runners four through 17 are pretty even, Smith said. He said it's his deepest team and one of his best.
Shane said he's confident he'll make the top seven (and was among them Saturday when he finished 10th at the Cowboys Jamboree). Smith said Moskowitz has the potential to be an All-American (top 40 at the national meet) and winning a national championship isn't out of the question. Smith said the Silverdale runner also has the potential to be an All-American in indoor and outdoor track (he was a two-time cross country All-American at CK).
Airman First Class Moskowitz
Shannon, on the other hand, found the world of college running wasn't for her.
She was injured often and not enjoying the business-like atmosphere of Division I athletics.
"It wasn't fun," she said. "It was a job."
She missed the personal connection she had with her high school coaches. And she wasn't comfortable living in Boise.
There was also some bad luck.
She had a bike accident that left her with a broken nose and a severe concussion. It wiped out a good chunk of her cross country season.
When she was healthy, she was running well. Her workout times were better than her race times in high school.
But she wasn't enjoying running at Boise State. She looked into other schools, especially those close to home. She was hoping to find a Division II college, but most of those coaches weren't ready to give scholarship money to a runner who had injury problems her senior year in high school and couldn't stay healthy as a freshman.
She missed running with her brother.
"He was my inspiration and my motivation," she said.
It didn't help that the Broncos coaching staff said her scholarship was in danger if she didn't do well in the track season.
"There's so much pressure," Shannon said.
Before the indoor season started, she came home. "The team was great," she said. "But I didn't feel comfortable. I didn't feel at home."
A few months after leaving the Broncos, Shannon was still trying to find a way to pay for school. A few of her friends were joining the military and were telling her the benefits. Getting school paid for swayed her.
She joined the Air Force and shipped off for basic training in September 2011.
"I loved it," she said. "I loved the challenge."
For somebody used to pushing her physical limits as a runner, basic training was the perfect challenge. She graduated as the top female in terms of physical fitness.
A few weeks into basic training, Shannon was interviewed to determine her job. She told them how she was using her scholarship to go to nursing school and begged to continue on that course.
Shannon is now a medical technician in San Antonio (though she's being transferred at the end of month to New Jersey). She's basically qualified as a nurse except for a few slight differences. She's also trained as an emergency medical technician.
She still runs, but on her terms. She plugs in her headphones and eats up a few miles every day. She wants to run in the Air Force marathon.
Shannon's biggest passion was singing, and she's still following it. She's part of the base's music program and she's hoping to make the Air Force's elite traveling choir.
She even tried out for the X Factor TV show before she entered the military. She said she almost made the semifinals. She's working on some songs and she'll try out again soon.
It's all worked out well for Shannon.
"I wouldn't trade the military for the world," she said.