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Track and Field: Gumbs sisters took long road to success, UF

By ANDY WOLF
STAFF WRITER
Trevia and Tynelle Gumbs are inseparable.
They are twin sisters, after all.
Trevia is older by one minute and doesn’t let Tynelle forget it.
Natives of Puerto Rico who grew up in the British Virgin Islands, the twins are junior college transfers in their first season as throwers on the University of Findlay track and field team.
They spent their junior college years at Central Arizona College in Coolidge, Arizona.
One wouldn’t go without the other, as sort of a package deal.
They’re already well accomplished as Oilers.
Tynelle won a Division II indoor national championship in the hammer throw while Trevia also earned All-American status in the event in ninth place.
Growing up together instilled a natural rivalry between them.
Trying multiple sports such as tennis, volleyball, softball and swimming only fueled the competitive flame.
“I used to be a sprinter and then I got fat,” Tynelle said. “We decided to go to throwing and we just happened to be good at it.”
Everything outside of sports became a contest, too — from measuring food amounts and eating it the fastest, to showing up at practice first.
Everything except throwing.
The sisterly bond takes over and they work together to stay relaxed during meets.
“I get nervous, she gets nervous,” Tynelle said. “… I’m not necessarily trying to be like, oh I’m going to beat you today. It’s more like a sibling rivalry, but not so aggressively, it’s more like a loving . . . .”
“Love is a strong word,” Trevia said, interrupting her sister with a jab.
As twins do, Trevia and Tynelle not only complete each other’s sentences, but often sync a few words at a time.
The Gumbs sisters were born in Puerto Rico, but grew up in the British Virgin Islands on the main island of Tortola.
Their younger twin brothers, Djimon and Diamante, are also throwers, and also were born a minute apart. Djimon is the National Youth record holder in the shot put.
Tortola is the largest and most populated of the 16 inhabited islands, comprising nearly 24,000 of the 34,000 people residing in the British Virgin Islands, according to the CIA’s World Fact Book.
The low population naturally creates an “everybody knows everybody” environment.
“The people back at home are so friendly, so nice,” Tynelle said. “So we already grew up with a family kind of atmosphere and really friendly with everybody. We try to be as caring and as loving as possible.”
The hottest months average 87 degrees Fahrenheit in July and August and the coldest 68 in January.
The lowest recorded temperature is only 60, having occurred in February, March and December.
Two days on the UF campus, the Gumbs experienced their first snowfall.
“I don’t know why we didn’t research the weather,” Trevia said. “That was the farthest thing from our minds. I just didn’t know it was going to be this cold, like blizzard, like my hands are numb, my nose, everything is numb.”
Climate was the last thing on their minds because throwing was the first thing.
Their landing at Findlay nearly didn’t happen.
In their sophomore season at Central Arizona, Tynelle and Trevia finished first and third in the hammer throw at the indoor track and field championships.
Tynelle was runner up in the discus at the outdoor national meet.
They had already signed National Letters of Intent to throw at Division I University of Central Florida at the conclusion of their freshman year.
In the process of transferring over the plan snagged.
Both graduated high school in the British Virgin Islands at the age of 15.
They spent the next two years out of school, disqualifying them from competing at the Division I level.
Tynelle initially wanted to take the semester off but her mom wouldn’t allow it.
“My mom said if they’re not taking both of us, (we’re) not going,” Tynelle said. “My mom is like our manager basically. She’s the big dog. She decides everything.”
Tynelle and Trevia did get to pick the school.
Word of the twins needing a school came way of UF head track and field coach Mark Arce in mid December.
The back and forth process of getting released from their letters of intent and officially into Findlay spanned from Dec. 15 to Jan. 1.
Tynelle and Trevia came across plenty of schools that wanted one but not the other.
One month prior to the Gumbs committing, UF hired a new throwers coach in Blaine Maag, a Columbus Grove native and two-time state discus champion (2003, 2005).
“We kind of trusted coach Maag and tried to believe everything he said. We’re blaming everything on him,” Trevia said with a laugh and Maag sitting nearby.
Tynelle chimed in: “He’s kind of like us. He’s kind of fresh, too. We did all like background checks on him, make sure he wasn’t a criminal. He’s a really good coach.”
Maag and several of their teammates helped them get acclimated to shock of a new climate and a Division II workout regimen.
Tynelle and Trevia arrived on campus without winter jackets.
“Like seeing the snow for the first two minutes was fantastic,” Tynelle said. “But when you go outside, it’s completely different. After five minutes I was tired of the snow.”
Their technique needed some tweaking but not a ton, noted Maag, to get in the right position.
Tynelle threw an automatic qualifying mark of 20.23 meters in the weight throw in her first competition as an Oiler.
“Tynelle found that position really quickly,” Maag said. “Trevia took all season and she auto’d right before conference (meet).”
“My technique was horrible, but wow,” Trevia said. “Coach Maag, I don’t know what he does, but he does something. Something clicks in my head.”
Along the way Tynelle broke the school record in the weight throw (69-111/2) — a mark she sought from the start.
She broke it again at 70-41/4, feeling happier to have reached the 70-foot level.
While Tynelle she didn’t reach her goal of a personal best at the Division II National Indoor meet, 70-3 was enough for her to become a national champion.
She edged the current Division II national record holder in Winona State’s Kaitlyn Long (69-7¾).
“I really was expecting to (personal best) in all honesty,” Tynelle said. “I was really upset. At the same time, the fact that I beat the national record holder, that made up for it because she threw (a record) 22.25 meters. The fact that I beat you is like wow.”
Tynelle and Trevia have grown to be less and less concerned about accolades.
They are, however, proud of their British Virgin Island National records.
Trevia holds the indoor and outdoor shot put records while Tynelle has the outdoor discus and hammer marks and the weight throw in the outdoor season.
Her javelin record was broken by Britney Peters on Feb. 13 of last year.
Their pride did dip a degree upon comparing them to higher marks of other national record holders.
As the outdoor season is in full swing now, Trevia and Tynelle are largely aiming for personal bests.
The lofty expectations count double as a curse and a blessing.
“I’m never satisfied,” Tynelle said. “I could be too hard on myself sometimes which is kind of bad, (but) at the same time I like reaching for the stars.”
Wolf: 419-427-8496,
andywolf@thecourier.com