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North Central twins, cross country standouts Erinn, Mia Hill aim for third consecutive State 3A team title

Locked into each other’s arms at birth, twin North Central cross country standouts Erinn and Mia Hill remain inseparable.

Most of their time together is documented.

It starts at dawn when the senior sisters train before school. They walk the halls together between classes, share the same friends, play the flute and clarinet in North Central’s band and report to practice at the afternoon bell.

When they’re not together, it’s because of their respective part-time jobs at shoe and pastry stores. Their days are packed.

“We stay busy, and we like it that way,” said Erinn, who won an individual State 3A title in 2017 and placed third in 2018.

They’re saving up money for a college education that will ultimately split them up.

Straight-A students and two of the better distance runners in the region, the Hills have recently been on separate recruiting trips to NCAA Division I schools. They’ve agreed to attend different universities as a means of growth.

“It will be good for us,” said Mia, who placed eighth at state in 2018 and sixth in 2017. “We can separate and be our own people.”

But not before pursuing a third straight State 3A championship.

NC, ranked first in Washington and 27th nationally, set a classification record at state last season when it tallied 21 points. It returned all of its primary runners this season.

Between the Hills, defending state champion and junior phenom Allie Janke, seniors Amelu Ruff and Marie Taylor and sophomore Madison Lee, the Indians return six runners who finished in the top 20 individually at state.

NC coach Dempsey Ortega said this is unequivocally the most talented group he’s coached.

Having hard-working, high-character athletes like the Hill sisters helps NC’s cause, Ortega said.

“They’re intelligent runners and people. Smart and savvy,” Ortega said. “They’re so humble. They don’t show how good they are.”

The identical, pint-sized talents are hard to distinguish. Their mannerisms are also similar.

In the midst of a race, Ortega uses the colors of their watches to identify the Hills. Erinn wears a blue band watch and Mia wears black.

They’re use to being misidentified by their peers.

“We appreciate when people put in the effort to try and tell us apart,” Erinn said.

The easiest identifier: Erinn, whose personal-best mark is 17 minutes, 43 seconds, is often ahead of Mia (18:07).

Erinn, who pursued running years before Mia, has lost to her sister just once – at a Nike regional cross country meet.

“We both ran bad that day,” Mia said. “And that day, (Erinn) ran just a little worst.”

Both had a successful spring at the State 3A track and field meet. Erinn placed second in the 3,200 meters (10:42.73) and fourth in the 1,600 (5:01.94). Mia placed eighth in the 3,200 (11:00.15).

“They’re so consistent. They don’t have jitters,” Ortega said.

The Hills want to enjoy and continue to push each other in the talent-rich Greater Spokane League in their final year as teammates.

“It’s been nice to run alongside my best friend, someone who really relates to you and knows your life and has the same interests,” Erinn said.