OLD TOWN — Thomas Stubna was born two minutes before his twin brother, Michael.
The 17-year-old Lincoln Park High School seniors have been nearly inseparable ever since.
"A lot of times, I can hear the first two words and know what he's going to say," Thomas said.
They have also driven each other in the classroom and in sports. Both have 4.0 GPAs. Thomas scored a 35 on his ACT in his only attempt. On Michael's first crack, he notched a 32. He took it again and matched his brother's result.
"Sometimes the competition is for our mutual benefit, for the sake of pushing the other to do well," Michael said.
Justin Breen introduces DNAinfo Radio to the Stubna twins:
The Stubnas, of Old Town, are near-fluent in French, Slovak and Czech. They likely will attend the University of Chicago — Michael already has accepted his offer, and Thomas probably will do the same. Their parents, Jan Stubna and Jana Haines, each have MBAs from the university.
But there are differences. Michael wants to major in biology, in hopes of becoming a researcher, doctor or professor. Thomas foresees majoring in economics with a future career in finance.
Through middle school, Thomas and Michael were top 100 fencers nationally in their age group, but then they took separate sporting paths. Thomas decided to participate on crew teams at the Chicago Rowing Foundation; Michael focused on long-distance running.
They have excelled in their athletics. Michael, a captain on the Lions' cross-country and track teams, holds the school record in cross country with a three-mile time of 15:43.3. Since December 2009, Michael has kept an extremely detailed journal of the mileage and split times of his runs, even the weather conditions on each day. He estimates he's run more than 7,500 miles in that time.
"His passion for the sport is unrivaled," Lincoln Park cross-country and track head coach Troy Holley said. "I could go on and on as to why he is a solid competitor, but the main reason is his dedication to what he puts his mind to."
Mike Tanner, a coach at Chicago Rowing Foundation, provided a similar description of Thomas' work ethic. Thomas competes in a boys varsity eight-member crew, sitting and rowing from the front. Tanner also coached the Stubnas' older brother, Phillip, a junior at the University of Wisconsin.
"Both of the Stubnas were the most modest and altruistic oarsmen I've coached over the past 13 years," said Tanner, of Irving Park.
The twins have never been apart for more than three weeks — when the family traveled to Europe but left Michael behind while he participated in a long-distance running camp in Wisconsin.
"That's the hot-button topic in the house now," said Haines, managing director of MSCI Inc. Downtown.
When Haines first found out she was going to have twins, she cried for two straight days, noting "it was a shock ... completely unexpected."
But since the boys were born, Haines has been overjoyed how Thomas and Michael have entertained themselves and the rest of the family.
"They’ve always had this incredible enjoyment of playing together," said Haines, describing a time as 10-month-olds when Michael and Thomas were having an "endless" conversation about squirrels.
"They make us laugh all the time," she said. "They amaze us every day. They’re smart, they’re funny, and the biggest thing that we’ve seen since very early on, that whatever they do, they’re 100 percent dedicated."
And, regardless if they attend college together, Michael knows his "older" brother is never far away.
"He provides 'support' in all respects," Michael said. "That's the one word that encompasses all of it."