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Coles both sign with Iona College

 Coles brothers will both run at Iona


   Coming off a memorable cross country season the St. Joseph's students

    all along wanted to attend the same post secondary school 



  January 10, 2022


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By Rob. J. Ross 

ST. THOMAS - Aiden and Tristan Coles have spent the majority of their lives doing everything together. That comes naturally with being twin brothers.

Therefore, it wasn't surprising when deciding on a post secondary school to further their education and running careers, the Grade 12 students at St. Joseph's high school, chose the same location.

This coming autumn the Coles will be attending Iona College, a NCAA Division 1 school in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, located in New Rochelle, New York, just outside of New York City.

"It was overwhelming when we started contacting schools, but towards the end we had a bit of time to make our decision," said Aiden. "We looked there (Iona) and a lot of Canadians have went there and been very successful. Their success in the past and as international students really stuck out with Tristan and I. That was the main thing that made us chose Iona."

All along the brothers wanted to stay together.

"The plan from the start was for us to stick to the same school," Tristan said. "Both of us are happy that we're fortunate enough to get two that are good scholarships."

Adds Aiden, "It would be weird being apart. We do everything together. We do all of our easy runs together. We work out together. It would be missing a piece of the puzzle to have us separated."

Both brothers will major in business for at least year one.

"For just being 17, we don't know for sure what we want to do with our futures, where we what to go pass university," said Aiden. "We may change our majors after first year."

The Coles flew to New Rochelle in early November for two days, had a tour of the Iona campus, met current team members, including friend Max Davies and visited New York City.

"That visit sealed the deal for us," Aiden said.

Iona is a smaller school with just around 4000 students, but that hasn't stopped the Gaels' cross country team from winning 31 consecutive MAAC titles.


Memorable '21

Accepting scholarship offers capped a memorable 2021 year for the Coles, in both track and cross country.

In late November, Aiden won the U18 men's six kilometre race, at Athletics Canada's cross country (X-C) championships, held in Ottawa, finishing in 19 minutes and 49 seconds (19:49).

"It was the best feeling I've ever had in my running career," Aiden said. "I got a good lead with a kilometre to go and just kept growing it and growing it. Then the last 300 metres I was really enjoying the moment. It was surreal. I knew I was capable, but putting pen to paper and getting it done was a big step for me."

Tristan placed fourth, in 20:12.

"It was one of my better races," Tristan said. "Most of my races I always leave regretting a little bit. I was satisfied but I found myself thinking top five was what I was aiming for during the race. But I regretted that as I knew I should have been top three or competing with Aiden for the win," said Tristan. "After having poor race at provincials I knew I had to show what I was capable of. I was happy with it."

The Coles train with London-Western Club and along with the McAllister brothers, Heath (who took silver) and Ian, gave the club the boys' U18 team title.

Neither brother was satisfied with his performance at the Athletics Ontario (AO) X-C championships, in early November, at Kingston. Still, Aiden was fifth and Tristan, ninth, in the U18 men's six kilometre race and their results helped London-Western take the team title.

On the track in July, Aiden and Tristan finished second and fourth, respectively, in the 1500-metre run, at the AO U20 track and field championships, at York University.

At the Nxtchamp Invitational a week earlier, Aiden won the senior men's 1500 and was second in the 3000 metre run, while Tristan was third in both races.

Rivals now friends

During their Grade nine and 10 years, the Coles were rivals with Heath McAllister, who attends London Central. The trio had intense finishes at the Thames Valley Region Athletics and Western Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association X-C meets. All three runners were at OFSAA in 2019.

Then the Coles joined London-Western, where Heath was already training, starting the transition from some one they wanted to beat, to teammates and good friends.

"We'd see him at meets and see him as such as big rival," recalls Tristan.

Heath and Ian has helped both Coles strengthen their running.

"It's been so great having both McAllister brothers with us in training," says Tristan. "Heath has a little bit of a different strategy in terms of how he trains, (but) I found this cross country season when we're all fit it doesn't matter how we run workouts for the team."

The biggest influences on the Coles have been each other.

"I have to give most of the credit to Tristan," said Aiden. "If it weren't for Tristan, I wouldn't have started running in the first place. Without being able to train day in and day out with him I wouldn't be even close to where I am today."

Similar praise from Tristan, "I wouldn't be where I am without Aiden training with me every day and having him to push me. As well as Heath to push me at practice. It's nice having both of them to train with and keep me honest in training.

"It's nice having each other. We've got up to 115-km a week and trying to run that kind of mileage can get very boring. It can be straining on your body. Having Aiden to do it with and keep me honest, even on days I don't feel like doing it, is really nice to have."

Tristan also give a shout out to Connor Black and Mike Tate, from the London running group, the Bandits.

"They're always trying to better each other," says Tristan. "I'll definitely take a lot of things that they've shown me for the rest of my career."

The Coles also thank their coaches at London-Western and St Joe's, as well as teammates and their parents, Jill and Andrew, along with older brother, Jackson.

"Mohammed Ahmed (three-time Olympian long distance runner) has been inspiring for me," adds Aiden. "Coming from Canada and having such a high level career internationally."


OFSAA gold

OFSAA cross country 2019 is a meet not to be forgotten for the Coles and the St. Joe's Rams' junior boys team.

Aiden finished eighth in the six kilometre race, leading the Rams to the team title, along with Tristan, Brent Haggerty, Aiden Holder and the Belanger brothers, Dylen and Harrison.

"Having a team there for those championship meets, you can embrace it with everyone else," Tristan said. "I find those the most enjoyable wins you can have. St. Joe's has an amazing running culture. It's one of the best places to go if you want to be a good runner and experience the team culture."

Annette Barry and Michelle Massaro are two coaches who have helped develop St. Joe's in to a school known for their large, vibrant and enthusiastic teams.

Aiden recalls in grade nine hearing about the recent success of the senior boys and girls' teams, both finishing their seasons at OFSAA, and the Rams' running culture.

"There was a really good group of boys there before we got there and now there's a Grade nine boys. Overall it's a lot more than running. It's team work, building each other up," Aiden said.

"I remember talking with Mrs. Barry when we got there and asking what's the highest anyone has got on this team and she said, second at OFSAA. (Lexi Wilson, 2005). I made that my goal. It really pushed me."

Aiden never had the opportunity to improve on his placement at OFSAA, same for the Rams going for gold as seniors, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of OFSAA in 2020 and 2021.

"If our whole team was together we would have got there again (Gr. 11). I think it would have been tougher this year (Gr. 12) because London Central has a such as strong team," Aiden said. "Tristan and I could have contended for the (individual) win to have some low points and with the rest of our team there, but I guess we'll never know."

Only Aiden has enjoyed a track season at St. Joe's, bringing home a bronze medal, from the novice men's (Gr. 9) 1500-metre run, at OFSAA in 2019. Again, the 2020 and 2021 were casualties of the pandemic.

"It's been unfortunate how the circumstances have been, especially for me as I had a concussion in grade nine and didn't get to run track," Tristan said. "I'm hoping that's there is some sort of track for school this year (2022)."

That would give the brothers the opportunity,  either in the 1500 or 3000 metres, to perhaps conclude their high school careers standing on the podium at OFSAA, together.