By KEITH KANE
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Emma Deshaies has been a staple on the Plattsburgh High track and field team for years now.
Now in her senior season Emma is captain for the third consecutive year and continues to put her name in the record book at the high school.
She holds the school record in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:23.5, the 1,500-meter run in 4:45.78 and the 3,000-meter run with a time of 10:46.1.
This season the name Deshaies has been plastered throughout the newspaper even more than usual. Emma’s sister, eighth-grader Claire, has joined her sister on the outdoor track and field team, and has been making a strong name for herself as well.
This season has almost become like a handing off of the baton for the Deshaies sisters. Emma is wrapping up her career in a strong way, while looking forward to college. Claire, meanwhile, is just beginning her track career at the school, but so far it looks promising.
“My parents were runners and I have always loved it and had an appreciation for it,” Emma said on why she began running. “I have always had fun doing it.”
Claire, though, got into running for much different reasons.
“I started running because of Emma,” she said. “She has been an inspiration and dad was a sprinter. I got into sprinting because of gymnastics. It has really helped keep my body in shape.”
“It’s funny because mom was a distance runner and dad was a sprinter,” Emma said. “It’s strange how we both went different ways.”
The Deshaies’ father, Brent, was a star runner of his own when he attended Beekmantown — even holding the school record in the 100 at 10.9.
Although a track participant himself, he never pushed the girls into the sport.
“I am very proud of them,” Brent said. “It was their own decision to get involved, but as a parent I am very proud of the work they put in. They set goals and they go after them.
“It’s not just the daily practice. They work outside of practice just as hard. They understand what it takes to achieve their goals and get better. It’s a special thing having two sisters on the same team. They represent their school and their family well — that is what I am most proud of.”
For the older Deshaies sister, she has gravitated toward the distance races. Claire, though, has taken after her father and is focusing on mostly sprinting.
“I tried (distance), but I didn’t really like it,” Claire said “400 is the most I’ll go.”
“And 400 is the least I will go,” Emma said. “It’s our meeting point.”
They do, however, crossover occasionally, and have teamed up to run the 400-meter relay event this season on a handful of occasions.
“We don’t always get to run in because it is so close to one of my other events, but when we do it together she’s first and I anchor,” Emma said. “Those are usually the fastest times.
“I have been apart of a relay team since eighth grade and I really like being apart of the relays and cheering the other members on.”
“I love the 400,” Claire said. “I really like working together and cheering on my teammates. It’s always really fun getting a victory together.”
Over the course of her career Emma has become one of the best female runners in Plattsburgh High School’s history. Her coach, Corey Mousseau, has had the luxury of watching her work to become the runner she is today — and is happy to have a Deshaies in the fold for a few more seasons.
“Emma will graduate from PHS as the greatest female distance runner this school has ever seen,” Mousseau said. “This is confirmed through her records and trips to Cross Country Federations and the national meet for indoor track.
“Having Claire and Emma on the team together has been a great experience. Emma was on the varsity team when she was in eighth grade. It is neat that Claire is also an eighth grader on varsity. Several times this season the two have combined to gives us seven of our first-place finishes.”
As the season begins to draw to a close, both girls are continuing to work towards the goal of states and improving their times.
Emma, who has been to states every year except her sophomore season, finished 25th in the 1,500 a season ago. This season, she has already shaved 15 seconds off of her time and hopes to improve on her finish from last year.
“I have been focusing individually for the 1,500 and possibly working towards nationals,” Emma said. “But, I am also focusing on college. I am always looking ahead and not just n the present.
“I am looking forward to being a part of a college team with coaches specifically for distance, and having more distance girls to run with.
“One thing I am excited about is being able to come back and see Claire run.”
Claire’s future in running is very promising, but she also enjoys participating on the school’s gymnastics team. But, she will definitely continue to run outdoor track — as a sprinter.
“Outdoor is my favorite,” Claire said. “I use it to keep in shape for the year. I am not going to be the next Emma in cross-country. I will stay a sprinter.
“I want to continue to keep getting (personal records) in the 400 and have my times keep going down. I will just continue to do the best that I can.”
And though the sisters continue to be each other’s No. 1 fan they are still sisters and with that there will always be a little sibling rivalry.
“I like it,” Emma said of having her sister on the track time. “Of course Claire likes it because she can get away with a lot more things because I’m here.”
“That’s not true,” Claire said.
Both Deshaies will be in action today in Lake Placid for the Section VII Track and Field Championships, and the two will compete together in the 1,600 relay.