Track: Brissetts are speeding to success

Sibling speedsters Christian and Chanelle Brissett are the children of sprinters from Jamaica. Christian, a junior, and the freshman Chanelle are defending state indoor medalists, and enjoy a sibling rivalry. MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer
Sibling speedsters Christian and Chanelle Brissett are the children of sprinters from Jamaica. Christian, a junior, and the freshman Chanelle are defending state indoor medalists, and enjoy a sibling rivalry. MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer
Posted: May 04, 2014

Inside the famed New York City Armory, during the New Balance Indoor Nationals on March 8, Cheltenham junior Christian Brissett dug into his starting block, glanced up, and watched his freshman sister, Chanel, take a silver medal in the girls' 60-meter dash.

With a smile stretched wide and renewed vigor to provide a follow-up spark, Christian Brissett jumped out of his block moments later and won the boys' 60 title.

"I realized she came second by a little bit," Christian Brissett said. "I thought, 'OK, I'm her brother and I'm coming up next.' That gave me a little more drive to do well, and I won my race. We work off each other like that."

The Brissett siblings have exceptional bloodlines, as their parents were sprinters in Jamaica in their youth before moving to the States.

Chanel Brissett took up track in grade school when she started running for the Enon Youth Athletic Association, and she inspired her brother to go out for the Cedar Brook Middle School boys' team not long afterward.

"I always thought I was fast as a kid," Christian Brissett said. "But after we realized we were OK at [track], we started working at it and we stuck with it."

Staying true to textbook brother-sister methods, the Brissetts initially had fun with small bets and competitions to give themselves a push as younger, up-and-coming runners.

"It was last year or two years ago when we had this little bet that I would break 11 seconds in the 100 dash before she broke 12 seconds," Christian Brissett said. "We have those little competitions a lot."

Christian first tasted high school success in the 2012 outdoor season, qualifying for the District 1 championships and the U.S. Track & Field Junior Olympic Championships at Morgan State.

The accomplishments poured in the next year, however, when he dropped his 200 time a half-second from the year before and took a silver medal in the PIAA state championships, crossing in 21.98 seconds.

Now, both Brissetts are defending state indoor medalists, and each was on a winning quartet last weekend at the Penn Relays.

"I'm actually really proud of myself," Chanel Brissett said. "I never thought I was going to be able to accomplish what I have this year, and I am pretty proud of it."

"Since we're family, we share our success," Christian Brissett said. "I'm always happy when she succeeds. Normally, when she does well and I'm running right after her, it gives me an extra drive to win.

"It feels good for us to shut the meet down together."

Keegan dominates. With Franklin Field taking the track spotlight last weekend, Avon Grove's McKenna Keegan ripped off a blistering run of 56.14 seconds in the girls' 400 last Saturday at the Unionville Invitational.

The time set a meet record and is the fastest 400 time this season in Pennsylvania.

Keegan paced the field with about three seconds of open track behind her, as West Chester Henderson's Haley Maturani took silver in 59.05.

A sophomore, Keegan took gold in the 200 for good measure, checking in at 25.10.

Big leaps. While Keegan owned the track at the Unionville meet, Malvern Prep's Andy Pancoast shattered the meet's high-jump record with a mark of 6 feet, 10 inches.

That placed the Friars senior atop the state's high-jump leader board for the season.


aparent@philly.com

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