Daily Pilot High School Female Athletes of the Week: Crenshaw twins rise together for Costa Mesa

The trajectory of their careers has not always mirrored each other.

Regardless, neither has ever left the other's side.

It's almost an unwritten rule of growing up as twins, and that essence of family was epitomized when one followed the other on her great personal journey.

Costa Mesa High's Felicia Crenshaw, the older sister by two minutes, was in the midst of a great sophomore season a year ago. She extended her second track and field campaign by three weeks, qualifying for the state championship meet.

Tayla Crenshaw did not dare to leave her sister alone, not for one second.

"I got to watch my sister," Tayla said of making the trip to Clovis. "I was so happy for her that she went that far."

"I got to stay in a room with her because my coaches were so sweet in letting me go in the van. I got to go with her every day, and I would pep talk her in the morning and at night."

The strength of mutual belief between the twins was with Felicia in the last two days of the season, and it helped propel her to a personal-best mark of 143 feet, 6 inches in the state discus final. She wound up placing seventh in the event.

An infectious love of the sport has found its way into the twins, and they rededicated themselves to track and field this offseason. In years past, the two played winter sports, but the hope is that a full commitment to throwing will hone their skills and produce better results.

"We just work on the footwork, the steps, where the foot should land, where the hip should be," Mustangs throws coach Isaias Morales said. "It's little, simple things like that. We do it over and over again until they feel comfortable with it."

"This year, with them being out here earlier, it's helped out. They've been working hard, putting in the effort."

It shows in the numbers. Tayla, in particular, has seen exponential growth. She placed fourth in the discus with a mark of 127-2 in the Oldfield Throwers Invitational at Esperanza High. That effort beat her previous personal record in the event by more than 10 feet.

In concert with her sister, Felicia proved that offseason training also has her ahead of last year's pace. The junior opened the season with a runner-up showing in the discus at 135-3

As a sophomore, Felicia started out at 114-5. She went on to improve upon that mark by nearly 30 feet by the end of the season, establishing the school record in the discus.

"The bar has definitely been set high," Costa Mesa head coach Steve Moreno said. "I think where she is now, she's going to continue to push that record another notch. I think it is going to go over 150 [feet] this year."

Felicia and Tayla rank second and third, respectively, for discus marks in the CIF Southern Section. Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos' Ashley Anumba, who won the Oldfield Invite competition at 150 feet, is the sectional leader.

Anumba, a senior, was the runner-up in discus at the CIF-SS Masters Meet last year.

Tayla began to shed tears of joy when she thought about how far she has come.

"It's unreal sometimes because I was trying so hard last year in discus," she said. "It was just really hard for me. It was so much work."

"I was like, 'I want it. I want it. I want it.' I worked so hard to get it, and now that I'm improving, it's really good. My sister pushes me every day to do better."

Moreno believes that the Crenshaw twins have the potential to elevate Costa Mesa to its best CIF showing in program history. It would serve the Mustangs well if the Crenshaws can develop into dual-threats in the shot put.

With additional training, Morales has begun to transition the sisters away from the glide technique in the shot put. Spinning has been incorporated into their throwing motions, which could unlock a new level in their performance.

"They just need to get comfortable with it," Morales said of the new motion. "When they do, they're going to break one out. It's just a matter of time."

Morales has set the goal at 37 feet as a minimum. He hopes that 40 feet is within reach this season.

Athletics runs deep in the family gene pool. Older brother Oronde Crenshaw rushed for 3,362 yards and 45 touchdowns his last two years at Costa Mesa.

Younger brothers Devin, Garry, and Marlee have also begun playing basketball and football.

It is because of family that the twins found themselves in the sport. A Crenshaw family tradition is that everyone has to participate in track and field for at least two seasons.

They did not see themselves as runners, so they became throwers.

"My sister and I wanted to try something different and kind of carve our own path," Tayla said.

The Crenshaws have fulfilled their two-year track and field commitment, and they are still competing. Felicia explained why that is the case.

"Our entire program, it's family," she said. "That's the best way that I can describe it. We all push each other. We all cheer each other on. We all love each other. I think that's one reason why I love the track team so much."

 

Felicia Crenshaw

Born: Feb. 11, 1999

Hometown: Costa Mesa

Height: 5-foot-7

Weight: 190 pounds

Sport: Track and field

Year: Junior

Coach: Steve Moreno

Favorite food: Grandma Jeanette's fried chicken

Favorite movie: "Spirited Away"

Favorite athletic moment: She set a personal record of 143 feet, six inches in the discus at last year's state meet. What she enjoyed most about the trip, though, was having her coaches and her sister by her side.

Week in review: She finished second in the discus at Esperanza High's Oldfield Throwers Invitational. Her mark of 135-3 is currently second in the CIF Southern Section.

 

Tayla Crenshaw

Born: Feb. 11, 1999

Hometown: Costa Mesa

Height: 5-foot-5

Weight: 173 pounds

Sport: Track and Field

Year: Junior

Coach: Steve Moreno

Favorite food: Dad's chicken and dumplings

Favorite movie: "A Goofy Movie"

Favorite athletic moment: Her favorite athletic moment occurred before she ever competed for the Mustangs. A sense of pride kicked in when she followed a family tradition in joining track and field.

Week in review: She finished fourth in the discus at Esperanza High's Oldfield Throwers Invitational. Her mark of 127 feet, two inches is currently third in the CIF Southern Section.

andrew.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @ProfessorTurner

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