By Kaitlyn Wolf
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
The Bachman brothers came to a slow jog as they entered Ahearn Field House, fresh off an early morning practice in the Kansas heat.
The identical twins are easy to point out, but not so easy to tell apart from a distance. Brett and Jeff Bachman, sophomores on the K-State cross country team, although still fairly young in age, are expected to take leadership of a young squad this upcoming season.
“It’s been hard competing with them,” said freshman runner Colton Donahue – one of 11 underclassmen on the men’s team this season. “They push me a lot, so it helps me become a better athlete. They train really hard and it is great for the team. I just love running with them.”
After Brett was injured during the indoor track season, he made the decision to redshirt for the outdoor track season.
“I haven’t accomplished much yet,” said Brett. “I ran cross country and got hurt during the indoor season, and then I ended up redshirting during the outdoor season. Hopefully, I can accomplish something during my time here.”
While Brett made the decision to redshirt mostly based on his injury, Jeff had a little more wiggle room with his choice to redshirt during the outdoor season.
“It was kind of a learning experience to get my feet under me,” said Jeff.
The decision to redshirt during the first season in any sport when competing at the Division I level is not uncommon and sometimes even encouraged by coaches.
“[The redshirt season] was just a lot of extra time to get in shape and get ready,” said Brett.
Although Brett and Jeff, like most freshmen, took a while to adjust to the Division I competition, they have made the necessary adjustments to succeed in the upcoming season. During their freshmen year, both agree the greatest challenge they have had to overcome was the competition and the training load.
“The biggest challenge for me was probably making the adjustment because competition in college is a lot more difficult,” said Jeff. “You cannot really take a break because everybody is just as good so you have to keep at it.”
They may have struggled in overcoming the challenges of adjusting to the competition, but neither one struggled academically. Brett and Jeff, both marketing majors, were initiated in to the Kansas Gamma Chapter of Phi Delta Theta back in January and also earned academic honors in the spring semester of 2014, being named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
The brothers seem to enjoy the opportunity to train together in practice every day and during the offseason. Even though, as he pointed out, Jeff usually poses more of a challenge for Brett, he never takes it to heart.
“I think they do a good job of using each other,” said head cross country coach Mike Smith. “They trained together all summer and they did a good job of working together. I think they got better because some days one would be off while the other was on and that would force them to push and get out of their comfort zone. They have a natural team component because they have been a team all of their lives.”
A common thread among siblings is the competitive nature that is embedded in them. This is apparent among the Bachmans, yet they never let it get too serious.
“We train together pretty much every day, so we are always pushing each other and trying to stick with each other,” Brett said. “He normally beats me in the races, but when I can get him, it is always fun.”
“We compete a little bit, doing whatever whether its pickup basketball, video games or playing poker. It is all friendly competition though, never too bitter,” Jeff said.
Other members of the cross country team notice the competition between the brothers, but it only makes them work harder as well.
“Definitely during workouts, it is who can go faster and who can keep up,” said Donahue. “It is great, it helps push everyone else. They are just great competitors and great athletes. They are great racers and two great brothers.”
As for their head coach’s expectations for the pair this season, they’re high.
“They made some improvements over the summer, both of them,” Smith said. “I can’t say it was equal, Jeff was doing a bit more and Brett was coming off an injury. I think for the most part they are both in much better shape than they were a year ago, so I expect them to be better than they were a year ago.”
Both Jeff and Brett opened up their 2014 campaign during the first weekend of September at J.K. Gold Classic Duals in Augusta, Kansas, finishing 25th and 33rd, respectively. The twins will be back in action on Saturday, Sept. 20, at the Big Ten Preview in Iowa City, Iowa.