Oakdale High graduates Jaci and Juli Powell have spent so much time together they can finish each other’s sandwiches.
The roommates, twin sisters, former Mustangs and current Golden West College track stars will complete their community college career for the Rustlers this spring, and see an end to thrilling athletic careers that have seemingly been joined at the hip, allowing them to finish each other’s sandwiches, not to mention sentences.
Both girls gave commitments to join separate Division I University programs during Golden West’s National Letter of Intent signing celebration on Feb. 1 in Huntington Beach.
Jaci, the 2009-10 Oakdale Leader Female Athlete of the Year, made a verbal commitment to attend The University of California, Berkeley. Juli, a spectacular high school volleyball player and track star, signed a letter of intent to accept a generous scholarship from the University of Hawaii - Manoa.
“Separating is going to be the hardest part of this,” Juli said. “We have been apart maybe four or five days at the maximum our entire lives. We will probably have a lot of Skype calls, but it will be tough.”
“I’ve just been trying not to think about it,” Jaci added. “We knew eventually it would happen that we would part ways and it’s definitely going to be an adjustment. I’m a little nervous about it but I know that it will work out.”
Jaci earned the attention of Cal coaches after she exploded onto the collegiate track and field scene with a Southern California and State championship in the seven-event heptathlon last April and May. She visited the Berkeley campus last year and was asked to join the program last month.
The details of her scholarship have not yet been finalized, and Powell said her performance during the 2012 outdoor track and field season at Golden West will determine the monetary support Cal will offer.
“It’s like a business deal,” Jaci said. “They were very honest in saying that they will give me money based upon what I have done, and not necessarily my potential. This season I can hit marks to better my scholarship.”
Juli’s commitment to Hawaii is a little more specific. She will receive scholarship funds to pay for her tuition and books, and will provide her own money for living expenses. She said Hawaii coaches expect her to continue a successful career in the pole vault, which she medaled in (seventh) at last year’s state championships. She also may compete in the javelin and some sprint events for Hawaii.
“I decided on Hawaii because it was my first choice, even in high school,” Juli said. “Everything fell into place and I’m very excited about this opportunity.”
Jaci and Juli began their 2012 season with a four-school showdown with Riverside, Santa Ana and Cal State Fullerton at Fullerton on Feb. 10. The girls tackle the Last Chance Qualifier at Azuza Pacific University on Feb. 18. They depart for their first stages of their respective university careers in August.