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The Daily Tar Heel

Cross Country Siblings Bring UNC Team Unity

It all began with William Wallace and David Stroupe.

At Watauga High School in Boone in 1996, Stroupe and his cross country team watched "Braveheart" the night before the state championship meet. The next morning, donning plaid Scottish kilts and blue face paint, the team recited the "Sons of Scotland" speech and ran the 5k, continuously screaming "Freedom."

Stroupe and his teammates captured the state title.

Now, Stroupe is a junior running for the North Carolina men's cross country team, and this year his sister, Kristin, joins the cross country mix as a freshman.

And apparently, she shares his sense of style. She was decked out at Watauga High the day before the 2001 state championship meet in a prom dress, sports bra and tennis shoes.

"The (high school) team would always do something goofy," said David Stroupe.

"We'd always get the strangest looks in the hall," he said. "But it was fun, and it showed we were a team."

Minus the plaid and prom faux pas, the pair will be running in the UNC Challenge on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Finley Cross Country Course.

Although David Stroupe wasn't rumored to be 7 feet tall, and Kristin Stroupe didn't have to win best dressed, the two have brought a superceding sense of unity and family competition to the cross country teams.

For one, David and Kristin Stroupe bring along the entire Stroupe clan to support their athletic endeavors, including parents and grandmothers.

"My family has been very supportive and has been to every meet, at least the ones it was possible to go to," said Kristin Stroupe.

"With the family there you have less pressure and that's when you can run just for yourself," she said.

A competition-driven vigor is something that runs in the Stroupe genes as well. Along with the two runners, their father was a member of the wrestling team at UNC.

"The thing I liked the most about David was his competitive nature," UNC cross country coach Michael Whittlesey said.

"They are both game-day competitors," he said.

The eerie thing is that the two have finished around the same place in the races they each competed in.

In the Campbell Invitational last Saturday Kristin Stroupe finished second in her race and David Stroupe placed third in his.

"That's about the extent of our sibling rivalry," said David Stroupe. "We'd look at our results in races we both ran, and notice we always finished about the same places."

Despite the difference in class standing, the duo could run together for another two years because David Stroupe redshirted his sophomore year and took last year off due to shin stress fractures.

"The best thing I could do while I was out was go to the meets and watch them run," he said. "Watching the meets kept me hungry for the competition."

In his first season on the cross country team, David Stroupe was named the ACC Freshman of the Year after a 19th-place finish at the ACC Championship.

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The Stroupes, now without the kilts and mismatched prom dresses, are looking to bring their competitiveness and unity to the Tar Heels, beginning with the UNC Challenge on Saturday.

"Every race David wants to see Kristin run a good race," Whittlesey said. "And every race Kristin wants David to run a good race. That's just how they are."

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