Cal State Fullerton cross country brothers get the best of each other
David and Danny Ramirez, brothers and distance runners on Cal State Fullerton's cross country and track and field teams, find a way to compete with each other in any situation.
Take video games, for example, most often FIFA Soccer by EA Sports.
"I get mad if I lose," David said. "We have rematches all the time. He beats me more often now, but anytime I beat him I always rub it in his face."
Take cross country practice, where each tries to out-do the other in races and drills. "Whenever we're in practice, it's like, 'Stop running in front of me!'" Danny said. "I speed up, then he speeds up."
Echoes David, who is a year older: "I feel like I set the bar and he always comes and surpasses it somehow. So every year I got to work a little bit harder so he doesn't beat my records."
Danny and David always look ahead in races, but manage to sneak a glance to the side or to the back to see where each other is. They are each other's measuring sticks. They've memorized each other's strengths and weaknesses. They even give each other academic tips, as both are majoring in business administration.
The Ramirez brothers strive to beat each other, as both boast similar times in the 3,000-meter steeplechase event in track. But they push each other not just for bragging rights, but to make each other better.
"Training is a big part for us," Danny said. "We're going to get on each other if one person slacks off. Like, 'Hey, you got to get on it.' We want to be good. We want to train hard."
The pair first began competing with each other as kids, as both played soccer and would continue that sport through high school. David was the first to dabble in cross country, as his coach at Buena Park High School suggested he try cross country to cross-train for soccer.
David enjoyed the camaraderie of cross country, but once he began to thrive in races, he realized he also liked the sport for the glory that came with it.
Or came home with him. A wall displaying photos and shiny medals and trophies now sparkles in the family's house. "It's so they can't forget how hard they worked to get them," said their mother, Elvia Ramirez.
Dazzled by the glimmer of his brother's medals, Danny wanted some shine, too. Watching his brother's meets while in eighth grade, he decided to train with the cross country team and soon joined once he reached high school.
Soon both were hooked to the sport and became four-year letter winners on Buena Park High's cross country and track and field teams. David set personal bests in the three-mile run (15:09), 800m (2:01), 1,600m (4:25) and 3,200m (9:28). Danny set personal best times in the three-mile run (15:03), two-mile run (9:41) and one-mile run (4:22).
Though they were each other's toughest competitor, they were also each other's biggest fan.
"They are always taking care of each other," Elvia said. "They always support each other. If they have a bad race, they say to each other, 'Come on. You can do it.'"
The brothers were eager to raise their fitness levels once they arrived at Fullerton. They soon found out their competitive mentality fit in well with the Titans' work ethic and competitive practice culture.
"There's always that constant brotherly talk, like 'Let's race,'" senior distance runner Jeff Little said. "That's how it is with all of us: we have that attitude where we're having fun with it, we're competitive with each other."
David first arrived on campus in 2012, but redshirted the season due to injury. He and Danny both began their college careers in 2013 when Danny joined the team. Danny had a standout freshman campaign that year, especially in track and field where he posted five top-five finishes.
"I think that really fired David up," Cal State Fullerton coach John Elders said. "And then (David) had a really successful track season this past spring."
David took home gold in the 5,000m run (14:57.72 sec.) at the Ben Brown Invite in 2015.
Danny, who finished third among CSUF runners at the 2014 Big West Cross Country Championships in the 8-kilometer race, redshirted the 2015 track season due to a stress reaction in his femur.
Both share a common work ethic that leads them to resist complacency and strive for more.
"These are two great kids. I wish I had 10 more of them because they're what you want," Elders said. "They want to be great. They're willing to do the work. They're good in terms of their character. They're good students. They're going to graduate. You got to love kids like that."
Elders said both have realistic chances of qualifying for the postseason (NCAA West Region Championships) in track and field. Last season, David ran a 9:05.70 in the 3,000m steeplechase at the Steve Scott Invite. Elders said that mark was just a few seconds shy from a qualifying time.
"He's right there and he knows it. He could smell it," Elders said.
Danny also has potential to qualify, as he ran a 9:18.54 in the 3,000m steeplechase as a freshman. He's been recovering from a minor injury, but is expected to compete this fall.
Danny and David are excited to help Titan cross country reach new heights this season, building on the Titans' fifth place finish at the 2014 Big West Championships. It's an added bonus that they get to don the same uniform.
"We're lucky to be on the same team," David said. "I mean how many parents can say that they have one person that competes at the college level? We have two. Our parents are very proud of us and we're happy to make them proud."
"We always have each other's backs," David continued. "We have that drive to compete and it's always going to fuel us to do better."
This article was written by Mirin Fader from Orange County Register and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.