Jimenez twins looking to become royalty at state meet

ROYAL CITY -- Don\'t bother to offer either Rigoberto or Humberto Jimenez a ride.

Royal cross country coach Ben Orth has tried many times. Neither Jimenez twin ever takes him up on his offer.

They live a mile away from Royal High, and they walk home every night. Then, many times, they\'ll return to school later to walk around the campus for some added exercise, then walk back home.

\"They\'re always moving,\" said Orth of his two junior standouts. \"They don\'t ever sit still.\"

The Jimenez brothers also run very fast over long distances. The duo are among the favorites to win the 1A state title Saturday at the state cross country championships at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.

Rigoberto won his second straight SCAC district title last Saturday at Apple Ridge Run in Cowiche, with Humberto finishing five seconds back to lead Royal to a second-place finish in the team standings and a state berth.

The next closest runner, Ki-Be\'s Cameron Robertson, finished 79 seconds behind Humberto.

\"Both are such mental giants,\" Orth said. \"And they\'ve got a gas tank. Rigo averaged a 4:58 mile last week. He sets the pace, and Humberto says, \'OK, that\'s the pace. I\'m going to try to stay with it.\' \"

The brothers were born in Acapulco, Mexico, and moved to Royal City when they were in the sixth grade. Their mother, Petra Galindo, already was living in the region; she now works at the Red Apple market in town.

They also live with an older brother, Juan Javier, and a half-sister, Jasmine Galindo, who\'s an eighth-grader.

\"I was nervous, because I didn\'t know anything about here,\" Rigoberto said.

Humberto, though, remembers being happy about moving to the United States. \"I wanted to see different places,\" he said.

The brothers are on track to become the first members of their family to graduate high school. Rigoberto hopes to one day work with children, either as a teacher or coach; Humberto isn\'t quite sure what he wants to do yet.

Their English is still a little rough, but one thing they picked up right away was sports. Both joined the wrestling program at Orth\'s urging -- he\'s also the school\'s wrestling coach. He liked their nonstop motors and thought it would translate well to the mat -- and to get in shape as freshmen, they turned out for the cross country team.

Much to their surprise, they excelled from the start as harriers. They became the first runners in Royal history to place at state, with Humberto finishing eighth and Rigoberto 10th as freshmen and both also qualified for the state wrestling championships.

Then last year, the duo helped Royal win its first district title since 2000, but it came with a price. Humberto had complained earlier in the week that his foot hurt, and after he finished third at districts, it turned out the foot was broken.

Without him, the Knights came up 16 points short of making the podium as a top-four team, although Rigoberto finished third in the race.

\"It felt bad because last year I was hurt, and I wanted to be with my brother,\" Humberto said. \"We are a team.\"

This year, Humberto\'s job at El Dorado Stone in Royal City kept him off the team for the first month until he could make arrangements with his boss to get time off to compete.

His first race back, with Rigoberto taking the week off, Humberto won by 46 seconds and went sub-15 minutes at the 3-mile Granger course.

That\'s why Orth is so optimistic about his team\'s chances this week. With Luke Tonnemaker, 20th at state last year, returning from a stress fracture for Saturday\'s race, this will be the first time all season that the Knights\' seven varsity runners will compete at the same time.

\"I really think we could be a top-three team if we run well,\" Orth said.

As for wrestling? They didn\'t compete last year, although they might turn out again this winter.

After all, they\'ll need to keep active somehow.