Scudder sisters a triple threat in high school running

Triplets Lizzie (from left), Anna and Kate Scudder, seen here April 30, began running cross country and track for Rogers High School in 2023. (Alesia Schaefer)

The term “triple threat” perfectly fits the Scudder sisters. 

The three girls compete in cross country and track and are on the leaderboard together in most races. In fact, they not only run together, they play golf, go to school and spend their spare time together.

Triplets Anna, Katherine and Elizabeth Scudder, 15, just wrapped up their freshman year at Rogers High School. With only a year behind them, they have already established themselves as runners to watch. 

What started with running holiday races and hitting the track during the pandemic to get out of the house progressed to running cross country in junior high. By the time the threesome entered high school, their mother Laura, a marathon runner, said they had phased out of all sports except for running and golf.

In cross country season last fall, the triplets contributed to the girls team bringing home the 6A state championship trophy. 

“We were underdogs,” said Elizabeth, known as Lizzie “Anna also had gotten her appendix out, but we all believed and had worked really hard throughout the season. It paid off.”

Katherine, who goes by Kate, placed fifth overall with a time of 18:57 in the 5K, while Lizzie and Anna came in 11th (19:27) and 12th (19:30), respectively, in a field of 127 female runners. The Rogers girls team bested Bentonville girls by five points with a team score of 35 points to Bentonville’s runner-up score of 40. 

All three girls agreed it was fun to experience the excitement of attending the state meet in Hot Springs and seeing the team come together.

But they did not rest on their laurels. Following the state meet, the triplets competed in the Nike Cross Regionals in Texas Nov. 18. It was there that Kate hit her season personal record with a time of 18:38. Just a few weeks later, all three traveled to Huntsville, Ala., to compete in the RunningLane Cross Country Championships Dec. 2 with some of the nation’s top runners.

One of the girls’ coaches, Lisa Lautschke, who ran collegiately at Kansas University, said the girls push each other to be better, and there is a supportive team culture. 

“These girls were coming in with some fast times for freshmen,” said Lautschke, a first-year coach at the high school. “They have worked to find the right balance of pressure and will lock in and find their times at races.”

As the calendar flipped to 2024, training for track season kicked into gear and the girls competed in indoor track meets January through March in preparation for outdoor track season. While cross country had them competing together, track allowed for them to diversify, like Lizzie running the 3200 and getting points for the team. 

Even on the track, their events proved they were stronger together. All three ran the 1600 and 800 events, but Anna had a great kick and finished her 1600 at 5:08 and her 800 with a time of 2:17, while Kate and Lizzie finished close with times of 5:09 in their 1600s and 2:21 and 2:22, respectively, in their 800s.

“I started working with them at the end of seventh grade,” said Mike Rush, owner of Rush Running Store and a former Arkansas Razorback runner. “They are some of the most enthusiastic and hard-working young athletes that I have worked with in the last 25 years. They are self-driven and always want to give more.”

This attitude is evident in other facets of their lives as they are also members of the Rogers girls’ golf team, are members of DECA and have career interests in biomedical engineering (Lizzie), dental hygiene (Kate) and possibly becoming an astronaut (Anna). 

Although their talent and hard work have paid off, the three members of St. Stephen Parish in Bentonville do not overlook their faith in relying on what is next for them in their lives. 

“Knowing that God is always with us and trusting in his plan for us when things don’t go our way” is important, Kate said. 

“God put running in our lives,” added Lizzie, “so we don’t put running above our faith.”

“I think they chose similar sports because they each didn’t want to miss out on experiences of their sisters,” said their mother Laura. “They are also pretty competitive with each other so they enjoy pushing each other.”

Although the girls tend to feel pressure because people recognize them as triplets, Laura Scudder said she and her husband John encourage the girls to have fun, soak it all in and to smile when they run races.

“I feel that if all three choose to pursue this sport in college they will all be Division 1 athletes that we will be hearing about,” Rush said.

Despite this, Laura Scudder wants them to enjoy the process. 

“We tell them to be happy to be a part of something special,” she said.

Alesia Schaefer

Alesia Schaefer has been a Arkansas Catholic reporter and columnist from Northwest Arkansas for more than 10 years. A member of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Rogers, she works as admissions director and cross country coach at Ozark Catholic Academy in Tontitown.

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