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May 21, 2002

Track and Field's triple threat

Chris, Jeff and Nick Santana have spent a lifetime together.

Now, after making a major impact in their first season with the CSUS track and field team, it's safe to say that the triplets will be spending at least three more years by each other's side.

The Santanas are also unusual in a different way. Besides attending the same university and participating in the same sport, they also compete in the same events - the 110-meter hurdles and 400 hurdles.

Hornets head coach Joe Neff discovered the Santanas while scouring the local newspaper agate for talent. He noticed the Santana name over and over again, then finally discovered the secret. There were three of them.

Neff remembers how challenging telling them apart was when the Santanas arrived.

"I've never heard of triplets on the same team," Neff said. "The unique thing is trying to tell them apart. Initially that was a chore. But their facial features are different and you can get used to it."

The trio began their track and field career at Benicia High School, where they tried out for the team after a suggestion by the coach.

"The track coach saw that we had some athletic talent while we were in PE class, so he told us to come out for track and we did," Chris said. "He started us off in the pole vault and then had us try all the other events before realizing that the hurdles were our best event. They were our favorite events, so it all worked out."

They're now competing at the Division I level and making a name for themselves in the Big Sky Conference. During the 2002 indoor season, Chris qualified for the Big Sky Conference Championships in the 55-meter hurdles.

During the outdoor season, all three brothers have qualified for the conferences‚ with Chris and Jeff in the 400-meter hurdles and Nick in both the 110-meter and 400-meter hurdles.

Nick says one of the biggest reasons for their decision to compete together at CSUS was to stay together and push each other day in and day out.

"We wanted to go to college together because we try to help each other out in practice by giving each other tips," he said. "It makes it better for us because we are always competing with each other and pushing each other to try and get better."

Even with all the success on the track, Neff says that the Santanas bring a silent quality and a strong family background to the team.

"With the Santana boys comes a tight knit family," Neff said. "The Santanas have not missed a track meet this year, including a 30 hour drive to Washington during the indoor season. They're a tremendous support group. The boys themselves are well behaved, self-disciplined and take school seriously."

Jeff said that their parents, who still live in Benicia, have gone to every meet since they were in high school and are not planning to stop now that they are in college.

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