Conard’s Gavin and Callum Sherry, twins and best friends, balance each other: ‘Very powerful duo’

Photo of Maggie Vanoni

Gavin and Callum Sherry share a birthday, a bedroom and a strong passion for running.

The Conard High twins, born 90 minutes apart, have done life together side-by-side for the past 17 years. They’ve experienced highs and lows as more than brothers, but as best friends.

Yet they are very different people.

Gavin, the more laid back and easy-going of the pair, likes to draw and plays the trombone in Conard High School’s jazz band. Callum, the more calculated and bigger-picture thinker, is more into math and sciences and spent his free time over the past year learning Norwegian to better relate to a teammate during long runs.

“It’s like night and day,” said their mom, Nichol Sherry. “They have a pretty good balance of being their own person but also they’re close in their own way.”

The twins share a bond as runners. Race after race, the duo has consistently made lasting impressions on Connecticut High School cross country and track and field. They’ve helped better state records, consistently ranked among the nation’s top runners, and raised the level of competitiveness through every season thus far at Conard.

Most recently, the two announced their plans to compete together collegiately for Stanford next fall.

“It was definitely a tough decision. There are a lot of great options out there,” Callum said. “We talked to some other places, we visited some other places and they definitely didn’t make it easy for us. We’re grateful for all the opportunities we had, and I think we decided on a place that’s going to be good for both of us.”


Growing up, Gavin and Callum, the middle kids out of Nichol’s five children, were always encouraged to be active. Their passion for athletics came early and most likely from watching their parents carry on their own collegiate athletic careers into parenthood.

Nichol and Ted, the boys’ dad and Nichol’s husband, met as collegiate athletes at the University of Maine, where Nichol ran cross country and track and Ted played soccer (Ted played two years at UConn before transferring to Maine).

Nichol continued her love for running once Gavin and Callum were born by pushing the two in jogging strollers up and down through the neighborhood on long runs. Once they could walk themselves, Ted led the boys on hikes and backpacking trips before later helping to coach and train them in soccer.

The boys dabbled in a few local community road races as kids but didn’t get serious about running until middle school when they joined the school’s cross country club in addition to doing club soccer.

Immediately the two found success in running and developed a passion. For each, it was the simplicity of the sport, being able to go out every day with the ability to improve oneself with each new run, that hooked them. Additionally, being able to run through the West Hartford Reservoir No. 4, which they live across the street from, made practice all the more enjoyable.

“Just the simplicity of it and how enjoyable the training is,” Gavin said. “One of the biggest things I love about running is the way you can push yourself to your absolute limit like you can’t really do that in soccer just because it’s just not the same type of sport.”

The twins always had to be nudged or reminded to put in the extra hours out on the field for soccer. It was the complete opposite when it came to running.

“With running, we never told them, ‘Hey, you should go for a run,’ ever. It was more like, ‘Maybe you should take a day off,’” Nichol recalls with a laugh. “They really owned it and that I think that is the difference. They had a little success and that drove them, and they just love the culture of it, and those are their people, their friends, the whole thing of it. It just really became their thing.”


While both boys quickly became top runners in middle school, it was Callum who led the two with Gavin not far behind. To Nichol, Callum was always built to be a runner. He had the endurance and the speed. But race by race, Gavin began to shorten the time difference between the two at the finish line.

Gavin ultimately pushed past Callum in the seventh grade at the 2016 Harry Geraghty XC Invite. Gavin beat Callum in the meet’s 1.5-mile race by 22.3 seconds, not only shocking Callum and the family but laying down the pavement for his near-unbeaten high school cross country career (Gavin has finished first in 25 of his 31 high school races in the sport).

Both brothers suggest Gavin became the faster twin because he also swam in middle school, in addition to playing soccer and running. He always kept his body conditioned and says he learned about the mental aspect of individual competition through swimming.

“I like to put a lot of the credit in swimming,” Gavin said. “I think a lot of the effort that I put into swimming at that time really helped my endurance increase and just overall strength because swimming is just such a great overall body sport and it’s great for the VO2, the cardio.”

By their sophomore year at Conard, Gavin had left the swim team to focus solely on running. Both of the twins had stopped playing soccer after middle school and dedicated their free time to running and training for cross country and track. Gavin never lost what he learned from swimming and has since never fallen behind Callum in a race, beating him in all of their high school competitions across the two sports.

“I like to say that I definitely haven’t gotten used to being beat or anything like that, it’s just that I think I’m able to focus on my own success now,” Callum said. “Unfortunately, I had the wrong time to be the faster twin, but you know these things happen so it’s not really a big deal.

“It was definitely frustrating at first, like I wasn’t sure what he had done that I hadn’t done that made him faster and whatever. But like I said, it’s not really a big deal to me anymore. I think there’s obviously the initial confusion or frustration but beyond that, it’s really about focusing on yourself. It doesn’t prohibit me from achieving what I can.”

The twins accompany each other on over 95 percent of their practice runs. Their weekly mileage averages in the low 50s throughout the season, including finding time to cross-train with each other as well, despite Gavin preferring pool running and Callum the stationary bike.

To Callum, he believes having his brother as his live-in training partner makes him an overall stronger competitor.

“It definitely motivates me,” Callum said. “Just in general, I think it’s a really nice thing. There are a lot of people that have to train alone, and I happen to have someone who is one of the best runners in the nation to train with every day, so I think that’s something that I’ve been blessed with and that’s a really great thing for me.”


At Conard practices, the two act as role models to their teammates. Their coach, Ron Knapp, sees how the runners look up to Gavin and Callum and watch how they attack workouts both physically and mentally. The two have taught their teammates how to mentally approach a workout in knowing what percentage of effort is needed per run and how to not compare oneself to the lead runner, which is often Gavin.

“They take the strengths of each other,” Knapp said. “They’ve given each other the best of what they have for helping each other. Which has made them a very powerful duo.”

Gavin has twice been named the Gatorade Connecticut Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year, along with being named the 2021 Gatorade Connecticut State Player of the Year for Boys Track and Field. Last spring, he set a state record by running a then-national best time in the 1,600 meters for high school athletes in 4 minutes, 1.9 seconds. Per, he is the state’s No. 1 runner going into the 2021 cross country season with a 5,000-meter personal best of 14:43.2.

“If you look at Gavin after any race, he’s probably the most tired out of anybody there every single time as long as it’s not a dual meet, like a championship race,” Callum said. “The mental side of running is really where he excels and that’s what makes him one of the best and I think that’s definitely something that I’ve taken from him, just to focus on really working your hardest and you can always push harder than what you think you can.”

Meanwhile, Callum is a two-time All-New England honoree and a two-time GameTimeCT All-State selection. He follows his brother as the No.2 runner ahead of this fall’s cross country season with a 15:12.6 PR in the 5,000.

“I think what I’ve learned from Callum is just how to be smart not just in running but in everything,” Gavin said. “Specifically, about running, just running training, like learning when to pull the reins. Like if I didn’t have Callum, I’d probably be injured a lot because I’d just be running my hardest on every workout and that’s not what you’re supposed to do.”

When the two began their college recruiting journey last fall, they agreed they’d go about the process separately. Knapp suggested they individually create a pro and con list on what they wanted out of college. Callum’s list prioritized academics and Gavin’s athletics, yet both wanted to be challenged in the other sphere just as well.

In the end, it was Stanford that checked all the boxes for both of them. It had the challenging academics, both boys have GPAs over 4.3, and the challenging athletics both wanted as one of the top collegiate running programs along the west coast. And with the start of a new chapter, the twins have already decided not to room together when they get to Stanford.

“I think it’ll be good,” Gavin said. “We’ll be at the same place but it’s also a big place and I feel like it will be good to spread our wings a little bit.”

While college remains almost a year out, the two have their final cross country and track and field seasons ahead of them at Conard. The two are already excited to be back in a full season with official dual meets and conference and state championships on the line.

“I’m just really excited to run cross country this year,” Gavin said. “We sorta missed out on the flow of the season last year, we had a couple good races, but it wasn’t really as smooth. So, I’m just looking forward to getting back into that rhythm. Stepping on Wickham after a full year off, that’s going to be a lot of fun.”