All Star Twins Are First in Their Family to Complete College Degrees

by | Nov 22, 2019 | Alumni, Alumni Awards & Achievements

Lexi Jacobus and Tori Hoggard soar high, clearing 14-foot- and 15-foot-high bars to set records and win national championships. By any measure these twin sisters are stellar, but some of their stats are less well-known.

+ Sr|5-6|Pole Vault|Cabot, Ark.
+ Five-time SEC Champion
+ Four-time NCAA Champion & 2016 Olympian
+ Seven-time All-American

Lexi Jacobus

+ Sr|5-6|Pole Vault|Cabot, Ark.
+ SEC Indoor Champion
+ NCAA Champion
+ Seven-time All-American

Tori Hoggard

“Throughout our whole life, we’ve always just pushed each other, to be the best we can be.”

~ Tori Hoggard

Lexi Jacobus and Tori Hoggard soar high, clearing 14-foot- and 15-foot-high bars to set records and win national championships. By any measure these twin sisters are stellar, but some of their stats are less well-known.

Lexi was born first, and Tori followed eight minutes later, and they have remained inseparable since then, even following their marriages (Tori first, to Seth Hoggard; Lexi one month later, to Derek Jacobus).

The sisters worked their way through high school, serving up lattes and cappuccinos in their parents’ Cabot cafe, Joe Bravo Espresso. In their senior year, Tori set the national record for indoor high school pole vault at 14’4”, Lexi the outdoor at 14’7.5”, winning coverage in the New York Times.

They are first in their family to complete degrees at a university; Honors College Fellowships paid their way through school. Both majored in biochemistry and they took most of their classes together, although Tori worked with Matt McIntosh on her honors thesis (“Synthesis of Fluconazole Derivatives for Enhanced Antifungal Properties”) while Lexi worked with Paul Adams (“Characterization of the Interaction of the Small Molecule AZA197 on the Ras-related Cell Division Cycle Protein 42”). Both of them achieved 4.0 GPAs, graduating summa cum laude, and both were elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious academic honor society in the U.S.

Lexi Weeks and Tori Hoggard at competition

The sisters support each other in competition.

“I’ve really been proud of how the both of us have been able to maintain our GPAs, go through all of those rigorous courses, and graduate top of the class – honestly, I’m more proud of graduating summa cum laude than my athletic accomplishments,” Jacobus said at a meeting shortly after both sisters wrapped up work on their degrees.

Success in both academics and athletics took quite a bit of coffee and a lot of discipline, but it helps, Hoggard said, “to have a built-in study buddy for life.” They also carved out time to study in some unlikely places. “We compete in one event, so I’ll take my biochemistry textbook to the track, even at the Indoor SEC championships. It’s hard to focus when everyone’s screaming, but you do what you gotta do,” Hoggard said with a shrug.

When asked what it’s like to compete against each other, both smiled.

“We have this special bond,” Jacobus said. “So, when I’m on the runway, about to jump, she’ll come over and be like, ‘Lexi, you got this, you can do it, we need this next bar.’”

“Throughout our whole life, we’ve always just pushed each other, to be the best we can be. Even with staying on top of homework, Lexi was always like, ‘C’mon Tori, this is due next week,’ and I’ll say, ‘Ok, I guess I’ll get started on it right now,’” Hoggard said with a laugh.

That bond also serves them well when one of them has a tough day at the track.

“At Nationals last year, Tori didn’t have the best day, and I had a good day,” Jacobus recalled. “I gave her a big hug, reminded her that we do this for fun; we lift each other in those moments.”

“It was so nice that she was there to help me through it,” Hoggard said.

Lexi and Tori with graduation cap and gown.At this year’s NCAA Outdoor championships, it was Hoggard’s turn to win first place, her first NCAA title, while Jacobus, struggling with an injury, finished ninth. Both sisters can take pride in helping the U of A women’s track team sweep both the indoor and outdoor championships, making it the top team in the nation.

Next up? Both Hoggard and Jacobus have been accepted to pharmacy school at UAMS, but they’re deferring for a year to focus on pole vaulting, with an eye on competing in Tokyo at the 2020 Olympic games.

 
Photo credits are: Photos courtesy of Robert Black and Russell Cothren.
 
A version of this story also appeared in the U of A Honors College’s A+ publication.

Kendall Curlee

Director of Communications, Honors College 

479-575-2024 // kcurlee@uark.edu