Attleboro’s Daggett Twins Leap Into Season at Stonehill

Daggett Twins
Attleboro twins Ashley and Courtney Daggett (with Stonehill coach Dan Schwartz) started high jumping together in middle school and are now in the midst of their final season as college jumpers. (Stonehill College Athletics)

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In middle school, twin sisters Ashley and Courtney Daggett took part in an after-school track program run by the Attleboro YMCA. At one of the sessions, they were given the opportunity to try high jumping for the first time. Nearly a decade later, they are still jumping together.

The Attleboro High grads are entering their final indoor and outdoor seasons at Stonehill College looking to extend the program’s dominance in the NE-10 (six straight conference championship meet titles) and taking advantage of a few more months competing with each other.

“It can get pretty competitive at times,” Courtney said in a phone call during their winter break, “but we’ve basically had now seven, going into our eighth year, competing at the same event. It’s changed into a respect for each other…to be better. Between Ashley and I, the competition just keeps pushing us to clear another bar and pushes us to improve our jumping.”

Ashley added, “We’re teammates but we’re also sisters, so to have the memories to look back on and we have each other to lean on when we have bad meets or good meets because we know everything we’ve been through to get to this point.”

High jump is definitely a family affair for the Daggetts. Their father Tim was also a jumper at Attleboro High and their grandfather competed at North Attleboro. So, when the YMCA offered the twins a chance to learn the event in the summer before freshman year of high school it was only natural that they jumped right in and, as it turned out, it was a perfect fit.

“It’s a very unique event and I think with all the sports I played growing up I never found that one I loved,” Ashley explained. The twins took part in gymnastics, softball, and dance. High jump combined aspects of each of those sports and the sisters were instantly hooked. “it was something that just came to us so easily that it would’ve been a missed opportunity if we didn’t see it through and see what we could do with it.”

She continued, “The feeling of going over the bar and landing on the mat and having the bar still be up is just indescribable. Everything just clicks in the moment and that’s the best feeling ever.”

The sisters joined the Bombardiers and became standouts. While Ashley was out with a stress fracture during their sophomore season, Courtney cleared four feet, 11 inches “out of nowhere,” breaking her personal record (PR) by three inches. It was the moment that she realized collegiate high jump was a possibility.

“That was the moment, for me, that I was like, ‘wow, I’m pretty good at this,’ and it started clicking,” she said. “It sort of gave me that confidence to give me the confidence to keep on going and know that there’s something in you to keep working towards.”

In their senior season, the duo finished one-two at the Hockomock League Track and Field Championships. “That was the icing for our careers in high school because that’s a really cool thing to do,” Courtney said. “Everything just happened perfectly.”

As would be expected for identical twins, there are a lot of similarities between their jumping styles. Ashley said, “We’re like a lot of power jumpers, using the speed to get up and then once our hips are over the bar we don’t have a lot of arch and snap. Courtney has more of a pop and is more fluid, but I have a little more arch and snap just not as much as most jumpers.”

When it came time to pick colleges, the twins didn’t initially plan to attend the same school but both wanted to compete in the NE-10 and Ashley explained, “We also thought that it wouldn’t be the best being in the same conference but on other teams. We’re as competitive as it is being on the same team, working towards the same goal, but being on separate teams would be a change.”

While the styles are the same, how the sisters have gotten to their results has been very different.

As she did in high school, Courtney makes massive gains on her PR and then works to get back up to that level. She landed five feet, 5.25 inches during the indoor season and then hit five feet, 7.25 inches during outdoor. Both stand as program records. Ashley is more of a consistent performer, who gradually builds up her PR (five feet, 4.25 inches for indoor and five feet, three inches for outdoor) at smaller increments.

Ashley said, “I challenge her to be more consistent and have confidence in each height and she challenges me not to underestimate myself and how high I could potentially go.”

The sibling rivalry is still there, but years of competing together (and as part of a team of six jumpers at Stonehill) has added perspective on how important it has been to go through this journey together.

“It’s made our bond a lot stronger,” Ashley reflected. “We’re a lot better understanding each other’s perspective. You’re part of their process in some way to help make them better.” A good example is that teammates typically avoid Courtney when she is preparing for her next jump. Ashley is the lone exception. She said, “Being twins, we really understand each other and when you need something the other one is there to give that confidence boost.”

Stonehill will be seeking two more NE-10 track titles in the coming months and the twins are focused on staying unbeaten in championship meets to close out their careers. Courtney said, “At Attleboro we weren’t really competitive as a team, so that’s been different having people depend on you to get points and to place and I’m just really grateful to have been a part of it.”

Through all their success, including being named to the USTFCCCA All-East Region teams last year (Ashley for indoor and Courtney for outdoor), all the struggles when jumps weren’t landed, or the injuries that slowed them down at various points in their careers, both sisters insist everything has been better because they have accomplished it together.

“We’ve been on this ride together since we learned to high jump,” Courtney explained. “So we can say things to each other that teammates wouldn’t be able to say. We can be brutally honest with each other but it just makes it all worth it. We’ve pushed each other to our limits.”

Stonehill will be back in action on Jan. 12 at the Beantown Challenge hosted by Harvard at the Gordon Indoor Track.

Murphy Helps Stonehill Stride to the Front of the Pack

Jimmy Murphy
Former Mansfield soccer standout Jimmy Murphy (No. 865) helped Stonehill win the program’s first ever New England Championship and finished fifth as an individual. (Stonehill Athletics)

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On Saturday, Oct. 7 at Franklin Park in Boston, the Stonehill College men’s cross-country program achieved a new milestone. The Skyhawks raced past 26 other teams, including Div. I programs such as the University of Massachusetts (Amherst and Lowell), Northeastern University, and Central Connecticut State to win the NEICAAA New England Championship team title.

Leading the pack for Stonehill was senior Jimmy Murphy. The Mansfield alum finished in fifth place overall in his first season competing in the varsity version of the race (he finished fifth in the junior varsity race last year) in a time of 25:29. He earned his first cross-country All-New England honor in the process.

Stonehill totaled 119 points, winning the race by five points over second place MIT.

“It was awesome,” said Murphy in a phone interview from the Easton campus this week. “It was humbling. To be the first, it was just a really cool experience.”

He added, “This is something I’ll always remember. It was a total team effort.”

While on the course, Murphy had no way of knowing where Stonehill stood as a team, but passing the three-mile mark he knew that he was in 15th place individually and still feeling strong. Murphy started to push and started to pass other runners, eventually moving up 10 places into the top five, surprising even himself.

“It came as a total surprise,” Murphy admitted. “I’ve been dedicated over the last year. I knew I was in better shape than last year and I just wanted to score as high as I could for the team.”

As the race drew to a conclusion, the Skyhawks huddled together waiting for the final results to see where they ended up. The expectation, judging by where everyone finished, was that the Skyhawks were around the top five.

“One of the guys heard it kind of quietly, so I went up and asked,” said Murphy about the wait for the announcement. Once the team had the victory confirmed, Murphy said, “We just lost it. Guys were jumping around…We’re going up against DI teams. It was awesome.”

What makes Murphy’s impact on the team surprising is that he did not compete in cross-country until he arrived on the Stonehill campus. Despite the efforts of the Mansfield track and field coaches to persuade Murphy that he would be successful on the already strong Hornets cross-country team, he refused to hang up his soccer cleats.

Murphy was twice named a Hockomock League all-star on the pitch and his senior year was named a HockomockSports.com Best XI performer and Eastern Mass. All-Star in the heart of the Hornets midfield. While he ran indoor and outdoor track, Murphy also played club soccer in the spring and summer and was considering continuing soccer at the collegiate level before deciding on Stonehill.

When asked about switching from soccer to cross-country, Murphy admitted with a chuckle, “Soccer will always be my first love. Running is a close second though.”

Even during his high school track career, Murphy was more of a middle distance runner, so there was a transition period for him in college, as he stretched into longer distances and started running cross-country for the first time as a sophomore.

“The training really got ramped up,” he explained. Now, he was running as much as 80-85 miles a week, about double what he was running at any point in high school. “A long as you can handle the training, you’ll make improvements,” he continued.

Murphy said that it clicked for him during his junior year, while running the steeple, and that his mental toughness is much higher than it was when he first started. “My coaches said that I was running not to lose,” he said. “I wasn’t being aggressive enough. Now, I don’t get too nervous when I’m out there.”

That improvement showed earlier this year when he finished second in the Div. II/III Challenge at the Kutztown University (Pa.) Farm Course, helping the Skyhawks bring home the team title. The New England Championships were another step for Murphy, but he admits that the upcoming Northeast-10 Conference Championship on Oct. 22 at Stanley Park in Westfield, Mass. mean a little more for the team. “It’s more personal,” Murphy said.

Coming off the team title at the New England Championships, Stonehill is the favorite heading into the NE-10 race. The Skyhawks are now ranked No. 1 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Association (USTFCCA) East Region poll and 15th in the national rankings. A poll of the league’s 15 coaches had Stonehill on top with 180 points, four more than American International College (AIC).

Murphy knows that polls will not mean victory. He said, “We know that teams, especially AIC, are gunning for us,” adding, “They don’t have a bad day twice. (AIC finished in 11th at the New England Championships; the second best NE-10 team.). We’ll be ready.”

UPDATE – On Sunday, Stonehill captured its ninth men’s cross-country NE-10 Conference Championship title with a solid team performance, narrowly edging AIC by two points. Stonehill had six of its seven runners finish in the top 21 (out of nearly 150 runners), including Murphy, who finished sixth overall in a time of 25:23.18 and earned his first All-Conference honor. Next up is the Div. II East Regional at Daemen College (Amherst, N.Y.) on Nov. 4.