For a full academic year, twins Brandon and Bernard Bennett-Green and longtime teammate Matt Gilmore were apart from one another.
Brandon was at Neumann University, Bernard at Penn State, and Matt finishing up his career as a senior at Cheltenham High School.
This was the only time of the past several years that they were not running for the same team, working closely every day as sprinters.
The Bennett-Greens, juniors, and Gilmore, a sophomore, all attended Cheltenham, where they began what has been a long, successful bond between the three.
“I consider them my brothers,” the sophomore said. “It’s a strong bond we have on the track, and off the track as well.”
Brandon and Gilmore’s roots trace back to Gilmore’s sophomore year of high school, where they both ran indoor track together.
“Matt and I started running together my junior year of high school, indoor,” Brandon said. “Then, outdoors is when Bernard joined us, and we started running fast 4x400s, and ever since then, it’s been history.”
Bernard, however, wasn’t as quick as his brother to warm up to Gilmore.
“I met Matt my senior year in high school, he was a junior,” Bernard said. “I was playing basketball, and he actually did indoor track. My brother told me, ‘Oh, he’s fast, come outdoor season, you guys will be competing against each other.’ And I didn’t believe him. I didn’t think he was fast at all.”
Their relationship went nowhere but up from there, as the outdoor track season arrived, and the three slowly but surely began to hit it off.
“We just all ran well, and I got to know him more, we started hanging out more and more, and he became a brother to me,” Bernard said of Gilmore.
As time passed, their friendship continued to evolve to the point where they considered each other to be family.
“My mom considered him one of her sons,” Bernard said.
As graduation approached for the twins, they had big decisions to make regarding their futures.
By the time of their graduation, Bernard had decided to attend Neumann University, and Brandon had decided to come to Penn State, both on track scholarships.
The following year, the three of them spent time apart, and for them, it just didn’t feel right.
“It was a weird period to me, because I was so used to having those two around me all the time, so training-wise, it was a lot different,” Bernard said of being at Penn State. “I was training with people, but it just wasn’t the same feel, the same intensity. It was something I had to get adjusted to.”
Brandon, however, felt that his year at Neumann was beneficial.
“It set me aside, and let me be an individual, because I was always on the relays, but [going to Neumann] let me be more of an individual runner, and I started running fast times,” the junior said.
The three of them stayed in constant touch throughout the year, often through text messages to checkup.
But it was only a matter of time until the three of them would be reunited.
Near the end of their freshman year, Bernard successfully convinced his brother to transfer to Penn State.
With the two of them in place, they knew they wanted to get their good friend to join them, as Gilmore prepared to accept a track scholarship.
“Throughout Matt’s senior year in high school he saw that me and Brandon would be coming here, and that we would all be together, so he decided that this would be the best fit for him,” Bernard said.
Gilmore was highly recruited as a senior, looking at other schools such as Florida State and Oregon. But after a visit to Penn State, he was “sold.”
Finally back together at Penn State, Gilmore said that it was always something in the back of their minds.
“We thought about it, it was definitely something we talked about. I mean, three fast guys, same high school, Penn State, a good school right up the street,” he said.
The threesome have ran in numerous events throughout the team’s various meets, but the one that they always focused on is the 4x400 relay.
“Our whole goal coming in here was actually to one day get the collegiate record in the 4x400 which is 2:59,” Bernard said. “So eventually, one day we’ll run under that.”
The three have yet to run a 4x400 relay all together this season.
An underrated aspect of a relay race is the transfer of the baton from one runner to the other. Brandon said transfers aren’t much of an issue due to the type of chemistry he has with his brother and Gilmore.
“We pretty much know what to expect whenever we give each other the baton. From high school we knew what to expect, and it just carried over to here,” Brandon said.
Gilmore said that they all “feed off of each other,” and added that the three of them always have a bit of an inter-rivalry in relays, with one trying to beat the others time, in what always pushes their relays to be better than the last.
This indoor season, Brandon and Gilmore have already ran on the 4x400 team, and they believe that all three of them are contenders to run on the same relay team at this weekend’s Big Ten Championships.
The three usually run in individual 200- and 400-meter dashes, as well as relays. Their events in the Big Ten Championships have yet to be determined, however.
With the twins being juniors, and Gilmore only being a sophomore, the three have a lot of time left on the Penn State team.
Their hopes and expectations remain sky high.
“We want a lot more fast times, hopefully a couple NCAA records,” Bernard said. “And the main goal, eventually, is to one day run pro together.”
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