Calm, confident and relaxed.
That’s how Jamarius and Jamael McTear feel as they prepare for their final races as part of the Ferndale varsity track team. The twins will race in the Division 2 state finals at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids on Saturday.
As a team, the Eagles qualified for seven of the 12 races at regionals. The McTears are racing in six of them.
Jamarius McTear is racing in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and 400-meter relay. Jamael McTear is racing in the 400-meter dash and 1600-meter relay. They both are part of the 800-meter relay team.
Last year in the Division 2 finals, Ferndale finished fourth as a team behind Bryon Center in a photo finish. The Eagles were only five points away from bringing home the school’s first state championship in track.
Getting so close to a state title last season had an impact on the whole team.
“That’s what I was looking at last year, finishing just five points behind first place,” Jamarius McTear said.
And it hurt worse for Jamarius who had a partially torn hamstring. A week before the state finals he hurt his leg at the country championships. He ran great times in the 100-meter dash prelims (11.29) and semifinals (11.26), but in the finals he pulled up lame. He finished in eighth place registering a time of 1:28.81.
If Jamarius McTear was 100 percent healthy for that finals race, the outcome might have been different. If he finished in third Ferndale would’ve won the state championship.
Jamael McTear also competed in the finals last season. He finished in sixth place in the 400-meter dash (49.50).
Leaving a Legacy
This year both Jamael and Jamarius McTear want to finish the year in a big way.
“I’m thinking that we have a good shot at taking the whole thing,” Jamael McTear said. “We really want to leave our mark on the state meet and Division 2.”
The twins referred to a team championship as their “number one goal” for Saturday. They pointed to the team’s depth this year and the amount of state records the Eagles set at regionals (six) as a sign of good things to come.
“We really want it this year because it hasn’t been done at yet our school,” Jamael McTear said. “If we go in and everybody takes care of their business we got a pretty good shot.”
They also wouldn’t mind winning a couple of individual races, and setting a record or two while they’re at it.
“A lot of people talk about me breaking the Division 2 record (in the 100-meter),” Jamarius McTear said. “My time at regionals would’ve been a new record.”
He has the top qualifying time in the 100-meter dash (10.4) and Jamael McTear has the top qualifying time in the 400-meter dash (48.8). In the 800-meter relay, with Kaiman White and Anthony Rice, their team has the top seed (1:27.50).
Ferndale has a legitimate chance to set new state records in all three events.
“I want to break records in the 400-meter and the relays, I think we’re seeded to break the record in 800-meter (relay),” Jamael McTear said. “It’s all about who’s going to come and leave it all on the track. That’s what I’m looking forward to, I know we’re going to run our race.”
Everybody Wants To Know
Who is faster? When the question is asked, the twins laugh. Both acknowledge each other’s strengths in their top individual races, but that doesn’t mean the issue is settled.
“I think we’re faster than each other in different races,” Jamael McTear said. “He’s got the speed in the 100-(meter), but if he comes at me in the 400-(meter), he ain’t going to beat me.”
The two joke about it and even seem to enjoy ribbing each other over the question. They want to be the best.
“We do different races, but if it comes down to it I got to make sure I’m the better twin,” Jamarius McTear said, laughing. “We talk about racing each other in the 200-(meter) all the time. We raced at regionals and I came in first.”
Jamarius McTear set a state record at regionals in the 200-meter dash with a 22.02. Jamael McTear finished in sixth place in the race with a 23.23. Jamarius McTear swears he doesn’t bring it up -- unless he has to.
“I don’t brag about it until he starts messing with me how fast he is,” Jamarius McTear said. “Then I have to bring it up; I did win the 200-(meter).”
Saturday will mark the end of the McTears' high school athletic careers, but it won’t be the last race for either of them. Jamarius McTear is still deciding on a landing spot for next year while Jamael McTear has a full scholarship to Grambling State lined up.
“I plan to go to Grambling State and run for them,” Jamael McTear said. “They offered me a full scholarship to run out there.”
Both have in interest in pursuing football too. They were on the varsity football team and think it will be tough in the fall not playing.
Two years ago, Jamarius McTear's main focus was football, now it’s the opposite.
“I like it more,” he said. “At first I couldn’t stand track. It was too much running, but as soon as I found out my potential it was more fun and something I didn’t mind doing everyday.”