Sarah Rustmann, bottom left, and Julia Rustmann, bottom right, are joined by teammates Sydney Benson, top left, and Katelyn Carney, top right, at the Division 1 state track and field championship meet Saturday, May 31. photo by Daniel Rustmann.
July 17, 2014Grosse Pointe North's Julia and Sarah Rustmann had a tough decision to make when it came to where to attend college.
The twins enjoyed a very successful high school athletic and academic career, so this decision was critical.
In the end, the two chose Michigan State University where they will be freshmen in the fall.
"I chose Michigan State University because ever since I was a freshman it has been my dream to be a Spartan," Sarah said. "I have always yearned to run at a D1 school in Michigan as a college athlete. I could not be happier now that I know that I am capable and so blessed to be an all-year athlete at Michigan State."
"I chose Michigan State University because it has been my dream ever since I was little," Julia said. "I believe that MSU offers me the most opportunities that will make me grow as a person, runner and student."
The Rustmann sisters worked hard and dedicated themselves to improve their running skills. They began as inexperienced freshmen and grew into leaders as seniors with a mission to run their very best each and every time on the athletic field.
They put in their dues during the early part of their career, running cross-country in the fall and track and field in the spring.
In the 2011 state finals meet, Sarah and Julia, as sophomores, finished 186th and 187th, turning in times of 21:55.1 and 21:55.7, respectively.
The Norsemen didn't make the 2012 state finals, but returned to the finals this fall with the Rustmann sisters leading the Norsemen to a solid team finish. As individuals, Sarah was 60th with a time of 19:18.8 and Julia was 80th with a time of 19:38.8.
They knocked more than two minutes off their times in two years, thanks to that solid work ethic and drive to improve. Running in the state's biggest meet and producing times under the 20-minute mark was a fantastic way for them to end their high school cross-country career.
The Rustmann twins put an exclamation mark on their athletic careers this spring, breaking the school record and earning All-State status in the 3,200-relay at the Division 1 state championship meet.
They performed their best with all the pressure on the line and did it in style by putting themselves in North's record book.
In that race, Sarah ran a 2:15 split and helped spur the team, which was joined by Julia, Sydney Benson and Katelyn Carney, to break the record set in 2004. The old record was 9:32.
"I never thought running a 2:15 split (800 meters) was possible," Sarah said. "That has always been my dream, along with running at MSU, and I am so proud of myself and my amazing team for this accomplishment."
"My best moments in high school athletics would be making it on the record board for cross country and track and field because both moments I pushed myself harder than I ever had before and ran times that I never imagined would be in my ability to run," Julia said. "It was the best experience to accomplish such a goal with my teammates and it was the best experience for myself."
When it came to Norsemen running during the 2013-14 school year, it was the Rustmann sisters who stood out and earned All-League recognition. They pushed themselves to give maximum effort every time they competed, and it is this commitment to excellence which made them stand out among their peers.
Their cross country head coach was Scott Cooper and this year on the track it was Bruce Bentley.
"We both would like to thank coach Scott Cooper, Coach Bruce Bentley, Coach Diane Montgomery and Coach Liz Michaels for their wonderful dedication, support and encouragement over the years," Julia said.
Julia finished strong in the classroom, too, earning a 3.47 grade point average. She is majoring in nursing because she wants to help people and the science of the body intrigues her.
Sarah had a 3.61 gpa and is majoring in kinesiology because it involves sports and the body, which interests her. MSU has one of the best kinesiology programs in the country.
Both Rustmann girls will compete on the Spartans' cross country and track and field teams.
Walt Drenth is the director of cross country, as well as track and field. The Spartans' womens' cross country team won the 2013 Big Ten Championship meet in West Lafayette, Ind., and took sixth in the NCAA meet with 236 points.
In the spring, the ladies placed sixth with 85 points in the Big Ten Outdoor Championship meet.
Sarah and Julia are running in the right direction and look for them to continue to use a great work ethic to improve as collegiate student-athletes.