Sarah and Alan Yoho

Sister and brother star runners Sarah and Alan Yoho, of Flintridge Prep cross country, on Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer / November 25, 2013)

Even from the earliest stages, timing was an important factor for the brother-and-sister cross-country duo of Flintridge Prep seniors Sarah and Alan Yoho.

Separated by mere minutes at birth, the fraternal twins are close, yet diverse and competitive.

What both Pasadena residents have in common is that each is attempting to the lead their respective girls' and boys' squads to a title at the CIF State Cross-Country Championships on Saturday at Fresno's Woodward Park.

The Flintridge Prep girls will compete in the Division V championships at 11:45 a.m., while the boys race in the final event of the day at 1:25 p.m.

"We're pretty competitive in cross-country and life in general," Sarah said. "But I really support Alan and I want him to do well. I'll be rooting for him.

"After all, I don't want to be the only one winning."

While expectations are similar, circumstances are not.

Alan Yoho enters Saturday's finals in a league of his own.

The Prep League champion was in cruise control at last Saturday's CIF Southern Section Division V Championships at Mount San Antonio College, running away to an individual victory in a time of 15 minutes, 10 seconds.

"My focus was to pace [teammate] Jack Van Scoter and then to kind of go on my own the last mile of the race," Alan said. "I didn't run my best time, but I wasn't trying to either. I wanted to win a championship and I did."

Sarah Yoho was one of the many onlookers who took notice of her brother.

"It's great to see his success and to see him succeed," Sarah said. "Technically, he's my 'older brother' by a few minutes, so he thinks he needs to set the example."

Alan will need his best effort of the season to check some of the to-do items off an ambitious list that includes helping his team win a state title, while clinching an individual championship and earning a berth to the 10th annual Nike Cross Nationals in Oregon on Dec. 7.

"This Saturday is going to be different than at Mt. SAC," Alan Yoho said. "I'm going to go all out."

Flintridge Prep, which clinched the program's fifth CIF Southern Section championship last weekend, enters second-ranked in state to defending champion St. Joseph Notre Dame, according to prepcaltrack.com.

The same ranking site lists Alan as the state's No. 1 divisional runner, ahead of Marin Academy's second-ranked Trevor Reinhart, the defending state champion.

In case that wasn't challenging enough, Yoho would need to finish in the top five overall out of all divisions to punch his ticket across state lines into Portland.

If Yoho does have an advantage, he'll be running on a course where he turned in arguably his best effort of the season in finishing fifth overall in 15:23 at the Clovis Invitational on Oct. 12.

"I'm really preparing and hoping that this isn't my last race," Alan Yoho said. "I know that even if I win the Division V championship, I might not make it to Nike Nationals. While it might not be difficult to win the race, it will be difficult to qualify."

As for his Rebels, there is no ambiguity for Yoho.

"If we do our best, we'll win," Yoho said. "We all have a role, from the No. 1 runner all the way to the No. 7 runner. My responsibility to this team is to win a state championship, while Jack's is to beat Trevor and our No. 3 runner is to be better than any other No. 3.

"We're supposed to do better than the any other team's one, two or three runners and on. If everyone does what they're capable of doing, we'll win."

While Alan Yoho is looking forward to prolonging his season, Sarah Yoho is prepping for a big finale Saturday that will include some celebratory spice.

"I'm so looking forward to having a bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos after the race," she said with delight. "It's one of the big sacrifices I've had to make during the season – no junk food. They're so great. I'm going to have a bag right after we win."

Even though Alan has been on a similar snack ban, the thought of a fiery treat isn't appetizing to his ears or taste buds.

"I honestly don't know how she eats that. I don't find that appealing at all," Alan Yoho said. "I also eat less junk food during the season too, but I'm just going to have a soda, not those chips."

For Sarah Yoho, Cheetos signals relief after the last two difficult weeks as the 17-year-old senior has sat out both the CIF Southern Section Division V preliminaries and championships due to ongoing hip issues.

"Oh yeah, the last few weeks have been pretty tough because you want to be out there with your teammates," she said. "But I haven't felt too bad because they've done so well without me. I couldn't be prouder of them."

Yoho has led from the sidelines the last two races, including when the Rebels romped to their second-ever CIF Southern Section Division V championship via a 52-117 victory over Woodcrest Christian on Saturday.

This weekend, Flintridge Prep enters top-ranked in the division, while Sarah Yoho is fourth-ranked despite the recent complications.

Like her brother, Yoho also turned in a solid effort at the Clovis Invitational in taking 14th among seniors in 18:42.

"I'm running Saturday. I have to run. This is the most exciting thing ever," Sarah said. "We have a team with five freshmen that has a chance to win a state championship. I have to do my part."

Yoho's last race came at the Prep League finals on Nov. 2, when she knocked off two-time defending league champion Evan Gancedo of Pasadena Poly for the individual crown in 18:52.

The feat wasn't missed by Alan, who was warming up during Sarah's race.

"I sneaked a few peaks at how she was doing. I lined myself up during stretching to see where she would be," Alan said. "I knew she'd win. I knew I'd win. The competition between us has been healthy."

Regardless of what transpires Saturday, it's unlikely the sibling one-upmanship will wrap up.

"I think it's fair to say that I've had the better athletic season so far," Alan Yoho said. "But knowing Sarah, she'll probably come back at me and say she's having the better academic year – which isn't true."

"We'll see how we do Saturday," Sarah Yoho said, "but this doesn't end Saturday."