Cousins competed against the best of the Midwest at the Hershey Track meet regional.

Published 8:20 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2004

By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
All four Ring Lardner Middle School students that competed in Michigan's regional Hershey Track Meet are friends. They cheered on one another and offered support during the event July 9.
But two athletes shared an even closer bond which pushed them forward at the meet.
Ninth-grader Samantha Brawley and eighth-grader Nellie Coquillard are more than just teammates -- they're cousins.
And although they're cousins by marriage, not blood, Brawley said they are as close as sisters.
The Michigan meet was part of a national event open to all children ages 9-14, sponsored by the Hershey Foods Corporation. The event pits the fastest kids in the nation against each other in Hershey, Penn. in July.
To make it to the national meet, however, competitors must have the top time in their events in their region. The students from Niles were competing against students from all over the Midwest.
Brawley competed in the mile run, the 800-meter and the long jump. Coquillard competed in the softball throw and also the long jump.
While neither won their events, both said they had fun. Brawley said having Coquillard with her was a benefit.
Brawley's best finish was in the mile. She placed second. She also finished third in the 800-meter. She said she was frustrated with her finish in the mile.
Coquillard had a toss of 119 feet in the softball throw, but won't know how she placed until the official scores are released later this month.
She said she thinks she did well, but softball has always been her favorite sport.
Coquillard is the catcher for the Southwestern Michigan Fusion, a travelling softball team.
Brawley, who also plays basketball and soccer, said volleyball is her favorite sport to play. She admits, however, that she excels the most at track.
Coquillard also plays basketball and soccer, but also performs well in track. The mile relay team she was on at Ring Lardner won every race last year.
Brawley and Coquillard are such all-around athletes that both said one of their main reasons for participating in the Hershey meet was to stay in shape for the upcoming fall sports.
Brawley will run track for Niles High School next season, while Coquillard will continue at Ring Lardner.