---- — By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
SUNBURY -- It's been said that familiarity breeds success.
Well, to be quite frank, the same could be said in regards to Mr. and Mrs. Don Benner of Sunbury.
The Benners are the proud parents of sisters Treicy and Yoangelys Cedeno, both of whom have taken the cross country world by storm the last two years when they began their respective careers at Shikellamy High School.
Treicy, age 15, is a sophomore who recently defended her District 4 Class AA individual title, and she heads into Saturday's PIAA Championships in search of her second state medal.
Yoangelys, at just 13 years of age (she turns 14 in January), is a first-year runner for the Braves. Following her third-place finish at districts last week, Yoangelys is also poised to earn a medal in the state meet along with her big sister.
And if that becomes the case -- the top 25 finishers in each class receive medals -- it would be an unprecedented accomplishment for Shikellamy's program according to its coach, Jim Bell.
"We've never had a pair like those two. They take their running very seriously, and I like their success this year. It's unprecedented to even have a chance to have two girls medal," said the 40-year Braves coach. "They are dedicated to their running, they train hard, and, for their tender ages, they are doing quite well.
"They both ran in our junior high program where they gained some valuable experience, and it's really helped them to be competitive runners," Bell added.
Treicy finished 14th in the state meet a year ago in 19 minutes and 50 seconds. Her goal tomorrow is to finish in the top five and to also shave at least 50 seconds off her time.
"I'm really excited to see how much better I can get, and I'm just going out there and try my best. This year I'm trying to be in the top five and I want to try to beat 19 minutes," said Treicy. "It's going to be a little bit of a challenge, but if I try hard I can do it.
"Getting another medal would mean a lot. It would make me super-proud and make my parents super-proud, and coach Bell would be so happy," Treicy added. "And it would be so awesome if me and Yoangelys both could medal at states."
Treicy will definitely have her work cut out for her in order to accomplish her goals.
Three of the girls Treicy will likely be chasing during the race are Saucon Valley's Elizabeth Chikotas, Dallas' Regan Rome, and West Allegheny's Alexis O'Shea.
Chikotas and Rome finished second and third, respectively, in last year's meet, while O'Shea was eighth.
"If Treicy has a good day, I have her being in the top 10. I have scouted out where the ultra-top people are from -- Chikotas, O'Shea, Rome -- and maybe Treicy can be as high as fifth, but I don't know what kind of day she'll have on the Hershey Parkview Course," said Bell.
"I do know she'll have to hustle the last mile better than she did a year ago. She kind of let up there a little bit, which is what happens on that course because the hills wear (runners) out."
Being able to tackle all of the hills, including the aptly named "poop-out hill" located near the finish line, was where Treicy's inexperience showed a year ago.
"Last year, since I was a freshman, I didn't know what the course would be like," she said. "The only thing about last year's race that was difficult and hard was the last hill. Now I know where it is and what it feels like, and I'm pretty sure I can do a lot better and try to sprint through it."
In her mind, however, Treicy has successfully tackled the state course many times over since her district win.
"Probably every single day at least once," she said with a laugh. "I hear it really helps if you do that."
Helping Yoangelys on Saturday is the fact she'll have her older sister to run with. And by following Treicy's lead, Yoangelys is aiming to get a top-25 finish.
"That will help me a lot. Treicy is experienced with the course and I will be able to tell how good I'm doing," said Yoangelys. "If I'm behind her I'll be able to pace myself better and know where I'm at.
"If I go with my sister and just do what she does, I think I'll be okay," added the frosh. "I'm looking to finish in the top 25 and medaling -- that would make me really happy."
Yoangelys said all of the advice she has gotten from Treicy this past week will help her on Saturday, but it's nothing compared to what she got out of watching her big sister finish 14th in the race a year ago.
"Last year I was at the finish line, because that's the only place I could see her, and I saw how fast she was sprinting and she was with (Danville's) Mackenzie Jones," said Yoangelys. "They were right after each other -- a second apart -- and that really inspired me."
Bell likes the prospect of both sisters medaling, but he said Yoangelys will have to really turn it on between the lines in order for that to happen.
"Yoangelys has to have a good day and run a disciplined, tough race the whole way, but she can do it. She needs to realize there's a starting line and a finish line, and in between she has to pour out a lot of effort -- mean, tough effort," said Bell. "I think Treicy will take it out fairly hard, and I think Yoangelys will be somewhere behind her keeping an eye on (the lead pack).
"I think that will help Yoangelys. She doesn't need to be right behind Treicy and she knows that," added Bell. "I'll be happy if they both work their way into the top 25 and get medals. That's our goal."