Thompson twins on the trail to the top for BYU men’s cross country
Hand-in-hand with fellow BYU cross country teammates Christian Allen and Joey Nokes, twins Creed and Davin Thompson blazed through the finish line at the Run Elite Classic on Sept. 9.
Creed placed first by a tenth of a second ahead of his brother and teammates.
“I just got lucky,” Creed said jokingly. “We all ran across together and I happened to be first.”
Now in their sophomore year at BYU, the twins are starting to feel the pressure as they prepare for the Cowboy Jamboree on Sept. 24 in Stillwater, Okla.
“It’s like a preview for nationals,” Davin said. “There’s pressure but I feel like we’re flying under the radar.. We can surprise a lot of people and it’s fun to be in that position. We don’t have the targets on our backs.”
When asked about their motivation to keep pushing themselves beyond their physical limitations, they said that they enjoy training with their team. “We all want to be good…building each other up. When we see one doing good, we want to be that good as well,” Creed said.
“We do it for each other, but also for ourselves,” responded Davin. “It’s satisfying to be the best that you can be and watch yourself improve and watch that hard work pay off.”
This year, the Thompsons feel that their bond as team has grown “like a brotherhood,” building their friendship outside of practice playing disc golf, Spikeball, and MarioKart.
This week has been their hardest week of training of the year, running a mile each on the track and grass back and forth several times and trailing up and down hills to prepare for their race in Oklahoma. They fuel their bodies with food as much as they can and go to bed at 9 p.m. after every grueling day of practice.
Physical toughness is expected in collegiate athletes, but mental toughness is learned.
The Thompson’s father passed away from cancer when they were 11 years old. He carried a gene called Li-Fraumeni syndrome, which is a genetic disorder that increases the chance that he or his posterity will develop cancer.
The twins’ mother, Jennifer, said that she not only witnessed her late husband pass away to cancer, but she also watched five of her late husband’s six siblings pass away as well as another six nieces and nephews.
“Luckily, my husband was the youngest,” Jennifer said. “[The gene] wasn’t well known when it was affecting all his siblings. I’m so thankful.. otherwise, my kids could have already passed away.”
Once Jennifer and her husband found out about the gene, the doctors performed embryo testing and did a pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, a procedure to reduce the risk of receiving inherited genetic conditions.
Without this treatment, the twins would have had a 50% chance of getting cancer before the age of 20 and a 99% chance before the age of 50.
Four years ago, Jennifer also was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“The first few months were hard,” said Davin, expressing his feelings when he first heard about his mother’s medical condition. “There was a lot of surgeries and chemo.. [I was thinking] ‘Bro, we already did this. Why does this have to happen to us again?’ In the end, all trials prepare you in some way for life and can teach you a lot. We learn and grow from it, and we just have to accept it sometimes.”
Jennifer has supported the twins at every meet, often raising huge head photos of her sons along with their sister, Sage, near the finish line.
“They never take shortcuts on anything,” Jennifer said. “They are talented but it’s their work ethic and their personality that helps them be so successful.”
The twins visit their hometown of Lehi every Sunday to spend time with their loved ones, with their mother’s cancer now in remission. The challenges they’ve gone through with their parents’ sicknesses have taught them how “to be gritty.”
“It has taught us how to do hard things and work hard,” Davin said. “There is definitely that motivation there to do it for the family. We want to make them proud.”
As Davin and Creed intensely prepare for the Cowboy Jamboree this next week and for the national championships in the near future, they are always reminded of the lessons they’ve learned amid their trials.
“You never know what someone is going through,” Creed said. “Be nice to them and be the best person you can be towards them. Everyone is going through trials. We just don’t know what they are.”