Henri and Nora McCourt, like most twins, share a lot in common. And, like most twins, the Mt. Blue High School student-athletes also have unique characteristics.

“They are both so very different in some ways,” said Mt. BLue cross country coach Kelley Cullenberg. “When Henri finishes his workout and sees Nora, he’ll help her and cheer her on. Their relationship on and off the course is just phenomenal. It’s one thing to be siblings, it’s another thing to be twins, (and) it’s another thing to be teammates. They just are amazing.”

The McCourt twins will lead the Cougars into the Class A cross country championships at 1:4o p.m. Saturday at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast. The Class B races are set to start at 11 a.m., while Class C runners will follow at 12:20.

The juniors have been the top runners for Mt. Blue this fall. Henri finished fourth (16:56.59) in the Class A North boys race, while Nora (21:07.37) finished ninth.

“I felt really good,” Henri said after the regional championships on Oct. 21. “It wasn’t a super-fast time, but (the track was) kind of muddy and I feel like I ran well strategically. I wasn’t exactly following my race plan. I started pretty conservatively, which is what I was hoping to do. But I kind of ended up pushing the second mile pretty hard, and the middle part of the race pretty hard. My plan, going in, was to close really hard and have a really fast finish, but that’s just not what I ended up doing. Sometimes, you just have to adapt things, and with what I did do, I felt really strong and was really happy with how my race played out.”

“I feel pretty solid (about regionals), though I feel it could have gone better,” Nora added. “I feel like my season has gone super well so far. I feel really good about the races I’ve had, and the team has been super fun. I’m really excited for states.”


The success at regionals was no coincidence, as the McCourts have been posting top-five times throughout the season. At the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships on Oct. 14 at Messalonskee High School, Nora (20:41.40) finished fourth in the girls race, while Henri (17:20.60) finished fifth.

“They are such a joy to coach,” Cullenberg said. “They put in the miles this summer. They cross train all the time. They’re doing all the things you need to do in order to go to the next level… They’re just two peas in a pod.”

Mt. Blue’s Henri McCourt, left, runs ahead of Brunswick’s Ben Klingle in the Class A North cross country championships on Oct. 21 in Belfast. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The pair often discuss how each other’s races went. They also talk strategy prior to races.

“It’s great, because we always have someone to talk about the races,” Nora said. “We love talking about how our races went, or on the course walk, going over what the conditions are like, or what spikes we’re going to wear. (Henri) is super into the analytic, so I can always ask him what’s going on with the results, because I just like to focus more on how I feel.”

Cullenberg said she sees a difference in how the siblings prepare for races.

“They’re so concerned with how each other does,” Cullenberg said. “Henri spends, in my opinion, way too much time doing research (on times), not just (how everyone is doing) in the state, but the country. But he knows the facts, but I don’t think he lets it into his head too much, which is good. He does his homework and does what he needs to in order to keep advancing. Nora doesn’t get (online to view times) like Henri does.”


The collaboration, Nora said, is a far cry from their younger days.

“I felt some competitiveness with him (years ago),” Nora said. “But that was back in middle school, when I could actually beat him sometimes. Now, I feel like it’s more of a supportive thing. I feel like we’ve matured.”

The duo don’t just stop on the cross country trail in the fall. Both are standouts on the Mt. Blue Nordic ski team in the winter; they also compete in outdoor track.

Mt. Blue’s Nora McCourt runs in the Class A North cross country championships on Oct. 21 in Belfast. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“I’m glad they’re juniors,” Cullenberg said. “I’m glad they do track. I like to watch them with Nordic (skiing). It’s really cool they end up doing the same sports and are just as into each other’s accomplishments.”

Those interests stretch beyond sports, as well.

“We’re in a lot of the same classes at school and have similar friends,” Henri said. “(In school), the (differences) depend on the subject and situation. There’s definitely (subjects) that Nora is much stronger at than I am, and there’s things I’m stronger at. One of us might be better at standardized tests, while the other might be better at big projects.”

“We’re both really good students,” Nora added. “We’re both good in different ways. We just have different learning styles. He’s better at knowing facts and is super knowledgable about history. We’re both good writers.”

The McCourts are also both members of the Franklin County Fiddlers, a multi-style band comprised of Mt. Blue students. Nora plays the fiddle, while Henri plays the cello.

“We started playing music since third or fourth grade,” Nora said. “We’re both into fiddling; it’s personally my favorite type of music. I go to fiddle camp every year, we both do. It’s super exciting… My dad started taking fiddling lessons when we were toddlers, because we heard music and heard people perform, and my brother and I were like, ‘That’s so cool.’ Then, we got into it and started playing.”

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