LINCOLN – A quick look at Tuesday’s North Star League jamboree at Alcona and you’ll see Cole Upper finished first and Carter Upper finished second; with schedules 6:36 p.m. and 6:49 p.m.
The brother duo have made it a habit of finishing at or near the top of cross-country races this fall, and they’ve been keeping busy as both are also midfielders for the Tiger football team.
“Not every kid can do that, it’s hard to do both,” Alcona cross country coach Tammy Nelson said. “Last year I had other kids try soccer and it didn’t work out. This year, the football coach and I got together and said if they couldn’t prove themselves, they couldn’t (dual sport). They have proven themselves. They are always ready to try harder next time, and they really are great kids.
Staying this busy is nothing new for Carter Upper. The junior duo also played last fall, played basketball in the winter, and also did baseball and track and field. Add to that the fact that he has a 4.0 GPA and is about as well-rounded as a student-athlete can get.
“I have a lot of interests, I don’t want to give up on any of them unless I have to,” Carter Upper said. “It keeps me busy, I don’t like sitting at home too much.”
Carter Upper certainly didn’t sit still. Between practices and matches in both sports, he’s usually on the go somewhere.
“My parents (Melissa and Cori Upper) have been really supportive for the last two or three years,” he said. “They really help me keep everything in line and support us. They prepared calendars for me and helped me with transportation. I really owe it to my parents for helping me keep up. I’m just very proud of myself for being able to handle it all.
Of course, having your younger brother on the way added to the uniqueness of his situation.
“It’s kind of fun, because we played the same sports and we can share that together,” Carter Upper said. “I can kind of teach him and he gives me a new perspective on the sport that I’ve never seen before. He has better times than me in cross country, but I can keep up with him on the soccer field. Dual sport is just tough enough, and I feel like that’s one of my biggest accomplishments, being able to handle it all.
Cole Upper likes the fact that he can also participate in sports competitions with his brother.
“Yeah (I like that), but sometimes we get a little competitive with each other,” he said.
Like his older brother, Cole Upper excels in class, currently with a 3.9 GPA. He plans to play basketball in the winter and return to mixed sports in the spring, along with track and field and baseball.
“I like to do both (this fall), but sometimes on tough days it can get really tiring,” he said. “It’s really fun hanging out with both teams. I keep track of (homework) on bus rides to places and my brother helps me get to practices.
As a freshman, Cole Upper has a shot at winning the North Star League Individual Championship. He will have to fend off his compatriot, Alex Wanty of Hale, at the final conference jamboree on Tuesday in Fairview, but he believes he has worked to seize this opportunity.
“I’ve been training since I was in sixth grade for cross country and I’ve done pretty well,” he said. “I hope to beat 18 minutes and start breaking the school record (17:51). I think cross country helps a lot with football because it allows me to run all the time. I can just keep going. to move the whole game.
Both Carter and Cole are aiming to qualify for the National Finals. Carter did it last year as a sophomore, and Cole of course hopes to qualify for the first time this year.
“That’s definitely one of my goals,” Carter Upper said.
Their head coach won’t be the one to count either one out of the mix. After all, she’s seen with her own eyes that they haven’t missed a beat, despite countless days that go until 7 p.m. or later when they go from school to practice. cross-country, then to soccer practice.
“I think it all comes down to their work ethic,” Nelson said. “Last year Carter wasn’t really slated to go to the States. We looked at all the numbers, saw who he had to beat and he said I’m going to do it and boom he got to the States Those are their two goals this year, and I hope they can. I would never doubt either of them.