KSU fraternity, ex-pledge settle suit

By Jen Hirt Record-Courier staff writer Published:

But she needn't have worried; all three girls have not only secured various spots with the Streetsboro Rockets, they have some of the fastest times so far this season for the 400-meter race, and they are 3/4 of the 4x400 meter relay.

"I was excited to tell my mom," said Jesse, most easily identified by her slightly blonder hair. Jesse's identical twin, Jodie, has recently dyed her hair a reddish-brown. Jodie also holds the distinction of being the fastest of the three, clocking in at 1:16 for the 400.

The third triplet, Julie, is not identical to the other two. "You sprint at the beginning, to get your pace," she said, describing her strategy for her 400 meter race, which is one full lap around the track. "Then you sprint at the end."

Jodie, Jesse, and Julie finished first, second, and third respectively in the 400 at their first track meet two weeks ago. That ranking qualified them for last week's 4x400 relay against Crestwood, along with eighth grade teammate Alicia McMichael.

Immediately dubbed the "Manijack Relay," they good-naturedly bestowed Alicia with the nickname "Jalicia."

At last Monday's meet against Crestwood, Jodie, Jesse and Julie once again placed in order for the 400, but this time it was second, third, and fourth. They then ran their best in their first relay, but couldn't keep up with the opponents.

Wednesday's meet against Windham, however, gave them their first relay win.

"They work together really well," said coach Donna Sladkey, "and they're so excited."

Jesse is the only sibling to compete in the full three events possible, adding the long jump to her two races. When she faulted twice and jumped only nine feet on her last try, she collapsed in frustration at her mom's feet.

But moments later, she was rejoicing as teammate Destiny Fronek won the event with her final, 12-foot jump. "The strength of our team is that we work together," Jesse said, all anguish seemingly washed away.

Debbie acknowledged the girls are very competitive.

"It's a friendly competition," she said. Jodie, for example, said her goal for the season is to beat older sister Candace's time of 1:12 in the 400. Julie, meanwhile, is planning to beat her own best time. She was going to add the hurdles to her roster, but was hesitant after hearing stories about teammates falling. Jesse is working hard on her long jump, and recounted in detail her final seconds in the 400.

The sisters know the power of working together, often teaming-up to get what they want.

"They do this thing, when we're in the car, where they all say, in unison, 'Mom, we love you,' followed by a request" said Debbie. "It got them Taco Bell once. It was cute."

"They're really good kids. They're great, and so close-knit," said Debbie. "She's a good mother," said Marla Manijak, the girls' aunt, who helped with laundry when the sisters were infants. "She has a lot of patience. And the girls are pretty self-sufficient now."

Pretty self-sufficient, but not totally, as the afternoon stretched out liked a roller coaster ride. Jodie bounded across the bleachers, requesting lotion for her knees, while Jesse left to find fifty cents from her father and Julie worried about her past and future performances.

Jodie, Jesse and Julie all said they plan to keep competing through middle school and high school, just like their sister Candace and brother Frankie. They've already beaten a few odds, as natural triplets occur once in every 500,000 births.

Given their early enthusiasm, the "Manijak Relay" may just be a future force to reckon with. "They work so well together because they push each other," commented Coach Sladkey. "I sure hope they continue into high school. They would be such an asset for the team."

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