Freeport High cross country runners Will Spaulding, Josie Spaulding and Henry Horne, left to right, are looking to break out from the shadows of their successful siblings. Will and Josie are siblings to Eli Spaulding, a two-time Maine Junior Golf champion. Horne’s older sister, Lily, won individual state titles in cross country, outdoor track and Nordic skiing, and his brother, Martin, runs for Tufts University. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

FREEPORT — The late afternoon sun throws long shadows on the cool grass as Will Spaulding and Henry Horne run barefoot on the athletic field adjacent to Freeport Middle School.

Will’s sister, Josie, is also working out, albeit with socks and running shoes, after the first day of high school classes has ended.

The shadows are nothing new for any of the three cross country runners. They have grown used to a spotlight shining on siblings, and have learned to be comfortable forging their own identities.

Will’s twin brother, Eli Spaulding, is the reigning Class B state champion in golf and a two-time junior state champion. He helped the Falcons win the Class B team title as a freshman. The boys are juniors, Josie a sophomore.

Horne’s older sister, Lily, won individual state titles in cross country, Nordic skiing and outdoor track before graduating from Freeport High in 2019. His older brother, Martin, a 2021 Freeport grad, runs for Tufts University.

“For a while, I felt like I was never going to be as good as Lily and Martin,” said Horne, a senior who has sprouted 8 inches since entering high school and is now the tallest member of his family. “There was definitely a lot of pressure, just people expecting that I was going to be a great runner, too. For a while, that was kind of heavy on me.”


The thing about running is that it’s easy to look at times and benchmarks established by your older siblings. When Horne realized he wasn’t measuring up, he faced a choice: throw in the towel or train harder.

He decided to use their times as motivation. Martin Horne ran well in cross country as a Freeport High freshman, better than Henry did, but it was impossible to compare their freshman outdoor track times because the coronavirus pandemic wiped out Henry’s first spring season. Not until this year did Henry run a mile faster than Martin’s personal best.

Freeport’s Henry Horne won the high jump and the 1,600 meters – and placed second in the 800 meters – at the Class B outdoor state championships last spring. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“Last track season was kind of my breakout season, when I started to do well and make a name for myself outside of my brother and sister,” Horne said. “It definitely felt good. It was like a weight off my shoulders.”

At the Class B outdoor track state meet last spring in Bar Harbor, Horne placed second at 800 meters (2:02) and won the high jump (6 feet, 2 inches) and the 1,600 (4:31).

Last fall, the Freeport boys’ team won the Class B cross country state title after falling 33 points shy of York in the regional meet. Horne (eighth) and Spaulding (13th) were the team’s top two runners.

For Spaulding, earning that state title went a long way toward counterbalancing Eli’s golfing achievements. Now Will has a big checkmark on his side of the ledger.


“We’ve both won a title,” he said, “so there’s not really a dominant side.”

Josie Spaulding, 15, sees the competitive sides of her older brothers. They bicker. They argue over chores or who gets to drive. Josie and Eli usually wind up washing dishes, she said, while Will walks their dog, Tatum.

Although she doesn’t play golf, she said that “there’s definitely a little expectation that because (Eli) is so good at golf and Will’s really good at running, that I’m good.”

Freeport High sophomore Josie Spaulding runs during a cross country practice last week in Freeport. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Last fall Spaulding was the fifth and final scoring runner for a Freeport girls’ team that placed ninth in Class B. She was fourth on the team at the regional meet, when the Falcons took seventh to earn the final state qualifying berth.

Their father, Andy Spaulding, is a two-time Beach to Beacon 10K winner of the Maine division and a founding member of the Dirigo Running Club. He was recently inducted into the Maine Running Hall of Fame.

Will Spaulding, who is two minutes older than his nonidentical twin, never took to golf the way Eli did at a young age. Consequently, Will said, he never felt any pressure to live up to his sibling’s accomplishments.


“Me and my brother, we have kind of parted ways with sports,” Will Spaulding said. “We just enjoy different sports, and we’re both good at those different things.”

Will and Josie Spaulding run indoor and outdoor track as well as cross country. While Eli spends much of his summer on the golf course, Will prefers fishing and boating. At 5-foot-7, Will is slightly smaller than Eli.

If any of the three runners feels the burden of expectation due to a sibling’s success, they also know support is part of the package.

Horne said his older sister told him to follow his own path, that he shouldn’t feel pressure to even run. His older brother encouraged him to put in the work necessary to achieve his goals.

“He believes I could be a great runner, so he was definitely pushing me,” Horne said of Martin. “It was awesome.”

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