In a sport like track and field, everything is measured in times or distances. And for 18-year-old twins Jessica and Anna Brewer, the past four years have not been any different.
A mainstay for the Fort Mill High track program over that time, the Brewer sisters are nearing the end of their track careers at the school and are looking to finish their final meets with a bang.
Both should easily qualify for the state meet in May as they head into the heart of their senior season schedule with competitions at the York County meet April 19 and the Region IV meet April 26, before the state qualifiers and state competition.
“They have meant a lot to our girls program because they are such competitors at the highest level,” said Fort Mill High head track coach Frank Ambrose. “They have been in the state finals or qualified the four years they have been here. They lead by example. They are better leaders by example than by words.”
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Whether in track or gymnastics, the girls have been competing with each other nearly all their life. Jessica, the elder by 20 minutes, and Anna are even contemplating attending college together. They both are choosing between the College of Charleston and Wofford College for track, although those decisions are still pending.
“Those are the two we narrowed it down to,” Anna said. “There is a 50/50 chance we will split up. I don’t think it would be bad if we stayed together, but I think it would be bad if we didn’t. I think it would be weird to go to school and Jess not be there.”
Before either one laced up a pair of track shoes, the two did club gymnastics together since the age of 2. They both agree that gymnastics helped them athletically when it comes to track.
“It helped me a lot,” Jessica said. “I don’t think I would be able to pole vault as well without my gymnastics background. In gymnastics we had to do a lot of swinging and getting upside down. And without that aspect I don’t think I would be able to pole vault as well because you have to swing and get upside down.”
Jessica’s talents carried her to a 5A state championship last year clearing 11 feet. She already owns the school record in pole vault clearing 12 feet, 2 inches. The transition for Jessica from gymnastics to pole vaulting in track was easier than she had through it would be.
“I realized I didn’t really want to run,” she said.
“I though pole vaulting would be fun due to my gymnastics background. I thought I would be able to pick it up really easily. Bars was my favorite event in gymnastics so pole vaulting is similar to bars. The secret is to just not think about what you are doing. I usually overthink things so when I pole vault I have been trained to do it. I know how to do it and do it well. I have been taught well and the right way on how to do it, so if I go on the runway and just do it, I do better than thinking about it.”
Jessica credits two things with helping her be a state champion pole vaulter.
“Determination and confidence,” she said. “You have to believe in yourself and believe in your abilities to do well. A lot of different aspects go into it. You have to have strength, you have to have speed and you have to have coordination. If you don’t have coordination, you can’t swing up and actually pole vault.”
For Anna, pole vaulting is the last thing on her mind, as she is more grounded in running several track events like the 4x800-meters, the 800-meters and the 400-meter hurdles, which she plans on running in college. Anna holds school records in both the 400-meters and 400-meter hurdles.
“It is my favor event,” she said. “I was a 400 (meter) runner in middle school, but I like a challenge. So I wanted to do hurdles because it makes it a challenge.”
Anna said it is hard to see their senior year come to an end.
“It is really hard to wrap my mind around it,” she said. “I feel like I should be coming back next year. Track is like my second family. It has prepared me for college.”
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @MacBanksFM