Having sisters play on the same high school team is not uncommon. Having sisters play on two varsity teams is not that uncommon either. Having two sisters play a pair of varsity sports where the younger sister is a freshman, is not as common. But, when your last name is Wengert, there are a lot more expectations.
For more than a decade, the Wengerts have been something of an athletic tradition at Marana High School. Like many Marana families, the Wengerts have a tradition of athletic excellence. The Wengert household has put nine children, less than 20 years apart, through Marana High School.
Currently, junior Jordan Wengert is child number seven, and freshman Janae, is child number eight. Like all of their brothers and sisters before them, the two are making a splash, competing for a number of Tiger sports teams.
As a freshman, Janae is following in her older sister’s footsteps, by playing varsity basketball and softball. Adding a third sport, Janae also competes on the school’s swim team.
As a sophomore, Jordan added varsity volleyball to the resume and has been a three-sport athlete the past two years.
Being the older of the two Wengert sisters currently enrolled in school, Jordan is following in the footsteps of older sibling, Jessie, who also competed in three varsity programs.
Due to her sister’s success, Jordan along with Janae, face plenty of expectations.
“It has definitely been kind of nice coming in and coaches already know who you are and they have been looking forward for you to come,” said Jordan. “Then again, you have some big shoes to fill. It makes me want to work harder to uphold the reputation they made.”
This year, Jordan was a starter on the basketball team, averaging 7.8 points, three assists and 3.1 rebounds a game. She also served as team leader on defense. Jordan scored in double figures 11 times and finished the season strong, hitting double figures in three of the last four games.
For Janae, there’s not as much pressure to perform like older sister Jessie. Nearly a year into her high school career, Janae hasn’t dealt with being “Jordan’s little sister” because the two are so different.
“We’re both really different, so I guess I can be more myself,” Janae said. “I am a lot more quiet.”
Janae made the Tigers’ varsity basketball team, joining her sister on the squad. Janae was a reserve off the bench for the Tigers. She did not log a ton of minutes, but did see action in 22 games and had a career best 13 points in a 76-32 win over Cholla. She scored 19 of her 27 points in a two-game stretch towards the end of the season.
Nearly everyone you talk to calls Janae quiet and coachable. They say she has quiet intensity.
“Janae is super coachable, will go out and do whatever you ask her to do, no questions asked,” said basketball coach Sarah Whaley. “She does whatever she can to make herself better, and make the team better.”
Jordan is the more outgoing of the Wengert sisters. While she too is very coachable and a team player, she is also more likely to crack jokes and give her coaches a lighthearted hard time.
For coaches, both students are an asset.
“They are both awesome kids, and yeah, they do a lot of good stuff on the basketball court and the softball field, but beyond that, they really are the type of people we want to fill our athletic programs,” said Whaley. “They both work hard, they are dedicated. Both are awesome kids, from an awesome family.”
In talking about home life, the Wengert sisters agree that things could get crazy with so many of their siblings participating in sports. Just keeping tabs of who needed to be where is a full time job for parents Laura and Clayton.
“It was definitely crazy, because we’d all be doing sports all the time and there would be different games during the day,” Janae said. “We’d have to figure out which one to go to. Everyone played so many different sports.”
The children begin swimming at age 4, and enroll in a variety of sports from basketball and softball to soccer.
Starting at age 6, the Wengert children are also required to take piano lessons, which is part of developing discipline.
“We all start really young, which I am super proud of because it has gotten us to where we are now,” said Jordan.
Although Jordan and Janae had been on the same teams when they were younger, being on the same high school team is a different experience, one they both say they enjoy.
“I like it,” said Janae. “We are close. We do not argue that much.”
Although the arguments are kept to a minimum, the two are not afraid to be vocal towards each other on the court or field, especially the more outgoing Jordan.
“I like playing on a team with her,” said Jordan. “It is calming to know I can yell at her, but once we get home it is a totally different story. What happened on the field or on the court stays there and once we are at home it is a different story and we are just sisters.”
Now, Jordan and Janae are focused on softball. The two are currently part of the Tigers’ softball team that is making a push to the postseason. Jordan joins senior Casey Cadenhead as being one of the top-pitching duos in the area and when she is not in the circle she’s roaming the outfield.
Janae may also have a future as a pitcher, but she has only made a few appearances this season, instead serving as a solid bat, hitting over .400 as a part-time starter.
The two do not live in the shadow of their older siblings, but are carving out their own place at Marana, though Jordan points out they do share “The peak” a widow’s peak that all nine children possess. They have accepted the responsibility of continuing the family’s tradition, putting their unique spin on it.
They may play different sports in the fall, but they share the same goals, family, getting better everyday and continuing the Wengert name on the fields, courts and pools of Marana High School.