It can be difficult, if not impossible, for a first acquaintance to tell identical twins Joseph and Joaquin Castellanos apart.
It’s also impossible to tell which of the two seniors has been the bigger points scorer for a St. Joseph boys cross country team that is zeroing in on another postseason berth and going after a spot in the CIF Division 4 State Meet.
“We’ve been alternating being the number four and number five runner,” said Joaquin. The first five runners to place for a cross country squad score for the team.
They are both first-year cross country runners. Joseph came out at the beginning of the season. Joaquin did not come out until after the Lompoc Meet at River Park, the Knights’ second meet this season.
Joseph had lobbied his brother to run cross country and, “I’m kind of surprised that he did. The camaraderie of the sport was what drew me to it. Ryan Dias, a guy on the team, helped convince me to come out.
“I didn’t realize what a team sport it was until I started doing it. All the runners on a team really work together.”
Joaquin Castellanos said, “After Joseph ran at the Lompoc Meet, I figured if he could do it I could do it. It’s a really good group of kids (on the team), fun to be around.”
Their coach, Luis Escobar, said, “The twins are a fine example of dedicated student athletes. They are hard working, competitive and a pleasure to coach.”
Make no mistake, the twins enjoy being part of a team. Besides running cross country they also play for the Knights’ boys water polo team during the fall. They wrestle in the winter. Among other track and field events, they run on the Knights’ 1,600 meters relay team during the spring.
But their favorite event is an individual one — the pole vault. Joseph Castellanos won the 2012 CIF Southern Section Division 4 championship with a personal best, and school record, 14 feet, 6 inches at the CIF Southern Section Finals last spring. Joaquin Castellanos, at 13-0, finished fourth at the same meet.
Joaquin’s best is 13-9. Joseph’s prior best was 14-2 before his winning vault at the CIF sectional finals.
“That was the high point of my athletic career so far,” Joseph said.
“I was just mentally prepared. I had spent the entire year preparing for that meet. I visualized the (14-6) height before the meet, and I was just on that day.”
Joaquin said, “I love the individualism of the pole vault. No one can affect your performance.
“It’s all you. You prepare, and then you show how prepared you are.”
“The pole vault is so invigorating,” said Joseph Castellanos. “When you have a perfect vault, you just feel it.”
Both brothers said they felt the pole vault is the toughest field event in track and field.
The brothers said they “definitely,” want to pole vault in college although, “We’re nowhere near close to deciding on a college yet,” Joseph said.
Joaquin and Joseph used the word “challenging,” a lot in a recent interview. They said cross country appeals to them because it is “challenging,” and the pole vault appeals to them because it is “challenging.”
The brothers are also used to water polo and wrestling challenges.
As the Knights’ hole set player in water polo, the two-meter man the team depends on to score regularly, Joaquin takes the regular pounding he gets from opposing defenders in stride. “We know water polo’s a rough sport,” he said.
Joseph is a set defender, so he’s used to a lot of physical activity in close quarters too.
Joaquin Castellanos wrestled in the 144-pound weight class for St. Joseph’s wrestling team last season and Joseph wrestled at 150 even though, “We both weigh 138,” Joaquin said.
“We were wrestling to fill holes.”
Joseph Castellanos said, “It was a challenge every time. Our records were about 50-50. (At an invitational), I’d do well the first match, and then the next guy would be just too heavy. Sometimes I won, though.”
The pair take the same AP classes. “We have all the same classes this year, but during different periods,” said Joaquin.
He chuckled. “Last year we had all the same classes together. Yes, it was very hard for our teachers to tell us apart. They had to go by clothing.”