From the TV to the track, twin sisters find passion for running

SAN DIEGO -- Before Point Loma twins were cross country stars, they played them on a hit television series.

Brianna and Marissa Bartello found success on the track field in an unusual way, never expecting to be as good or as fast as they've become.

The Bartello twins' first love was soccer until Brianna, the younger twin by three minutes, was forced to give it up because of too many concussions.

"We were on a couple club teams and we were both the wings so we were the ones that were running the most and it was awesome," said Brianna. "Honestly my first love. I love that sport, even today, I wish I was still playing."

Her twin Marissa didn't want to continue playing without her, so she decided to quit.

"I felt kind of bad because the doctors told her she wasn't allowed to play contact sports with like a ball or anything because it could be dangerous and I felt bad," said Marissa. "I didn't want to play without her so we were trying to look for a new sport for high school."

The sisters quickly turned to background acting, where they played extras on the popular TV show, "The Middle." Their role was to play cross country runners, never knowing that it would lead to discovering their new passion.

"It just felt like a real race and Bri and I were like, 'this is kind of fun!' We always wanted to be in front of everyone and take the lead," said Marissa.

"We knew we wanted to do a sport in high school but what doesn't involve a ball? Everything does, so we went into running," said Brianna.

After a successful high school cross country career at Laguna High School, the twins joined the Sea Lions, helping push Point Loma to its first appearance in the Division II women's cross country championships.

"The coach really just reached out to us and we had interviews with him and he was telling us that we could really turn this team around and that interested us," said Marissa. "We like being the underdogs and bringing the team up."

Marissa, a two time all Pac-West selection, holds the school record in the steeplechase while her sister Brianna has earned All-American honors.

"God works in mysterious ways and I feel like we're definitely better runners than we were soccer players," said Brianna. "So it's crazy to think that we would have never come to that if I hadn't been getting so many injuries."

Both sisters are also majoring in communications. Marissa is interested in journalism, specifically sports writing while her sister is leaning towards a career in marketing or social media.