Road to state: Laurens senior Jelain McArthur

Laurens hurdler and jumper Jelain McArthur talks about plans for the state meet and future as she moves on to College of Charleston in the fall.

Full name: Jelain LaShawn McArthur
Date of birth: Nov. 6, 1990
Brothers/sisters: brother- James Thurmon McArthur, Jr.
Academic interest: Biology/Pre-med
Hobbies: Going out with my friends, family, playing sports and traveling!
Personal bests: Triple- 39-4.5, Long- 19-2, 100-meter hurdles - 14.4

scrunners: What do you remember the most so far from your senior season?  
mcarthur: I've really enjoyed my senior track season, although initially I wasn't sure how it would end. Coming off of an injury last year I was a little timid at first as far as competing 100 percent. When I first stepped on the track this season with the other members of the team I was astonished at how young our team was. As the only senior on the team I felt it was my responsibility to pass any previous knowledge that I had down to them. In the end we finished pretty strong, I must admit, compared to how we were initially. But the one thing that I will always remember was when at Coaches Classic I jumped 19 feet in long jump. This is memorable to me because after the injury I wasn't sure how well I would recover or at what rate it would happen. This really gave me the courage and hope I needed to continue pressing on. My entire track season as a senior I will remember forever, because I can only live these moments once in a lifetime!!

scrunners: What would you like to accomplish this coming weekend?
mcarthur: This weekend is the state meet, and I hope to come out on top in my events. By this I mean simply on top of my game, and do the best I can do. If I do my best then what more can a girl ask for, although I hope to get at least one first place and top three in the second.

scrunners: What event do you feel is your strongest?
mcarthur: I feel like the triple jump is probably my strongest event, but I must admit the 100-meter hurdles are giving it "a run for its money.”

scrunners: How do you handle the atmosphere at a track meet such as the state meet and with individuals going for the win against you as a favorite?
mcarthur: I enter every meet with an open mind, a clear head, and with hopes of placing in the top and simply doing my best. When competing I am occasionally found in the "zone," which is the mindset I have in order to tune out my surroundings.

scrunners: What kind of team leadership roles do you have on your team at Laurens?
mcarthur: On the Laurens girls track team I am the only senior, and one of the few who have any previous track experience. Therefore, I am responsible for teaching the younger ones how to do certain events, explaining to them what a track meet is all about, and also for helping everyone work together as a team. I was surprised how many of the athletes listened to me and wanted to get better. Many of the girls actually told me that one day they hope that they can be "as good as me." So my biggest task as one of the leaders on the team was to be an overall good role model for both an athlete and a student.

scrunners: When did you start to compete in track and field and why?
mcarthur: I began competing in track and field in the seventh grade. Ever since I was a little girl all I ever wanted to do was run and race everyone that I came in contact with. Well one day I heard on the announcements that seventh graders were allowed to run junior varsity track and field at the high school, so I decided to give it a try. When i got off the bus on the first day of tryouts I guess it was, I remember running with all the older girls. The varsity coach was astonished so he immediately moved me up to varsity because I was already the third fastest girl from high school and middle school combined. I was excited, and they allowed me to try different events to find the ones that best suited me. In the end I ended up jumping and sprinting. Because I realized that I was actually really good at this I decided to continue. I eventually picked up hurdling as well.

scrunners: Do you play other sports or try other events?
mcarthur: Due to my passion for track and field I have dropped all other sports. I previously played varsity basketball, tennis, and before high school volleyball and competition swimming. I usually only compete in long, triple, and 100-meter hurdles, but I have run the 200 and 100 and a part of the 4x100-meter relay team.

scrunners: Do you have any family members that competed in track and field?
mcarthur: My mother I believe, did run track back when she was in high school. My brother J.T competed in track and field as well at Laurens, before he graduated and moved on to UCF to play football.
scrunners: What kind of goals did you have at the start of this season?
mcarthur: My goals are/were to place first in at least two of my events at state, win a Taco Bell Classic bag, and to jump a 40 in triple jump.

scrunners: What kind of training have you done all season?
mcarthur: Training is hard to come by in Laurens because unfortunately we don't have many experienced track and field coaches, therefore what I know I've basically taught myself. Don't get me wrong over the last couple of years I've sought help from various older and experienced athletes, as well as my AAU track and Field coaches who have guided me in the right direction.

scrunners: Is your training changing any leading up to the state meet?
mcarthur: Not really, because I'm trying not to over exert myself so that I can save my legs for SHOW TIME!! However, I am practicing, getting in the cold tub, and taking whatever tips I can get from my coaches.

scrunners: Have you ever been injured?
mcarthur: Yes, last year I injured my right heel pretty badly and was forced to sit out the rest of the season. This unfortunate event happened as a result of our team not being entered into the Taco Bell meet as an accident. My outside coach was a little upset that I wouldn't be able to compete so he entered me into a college meet at S.C. State for some college experience. Well initially I was told that I was just going to watch so that I can get a feel for things. This did not end this way though, I was actually entered into the 100-meter hurdles by surprise and I hurried to prepare myself. Inside I was a little shaky about this and told my coach and mom that I didn't feel I was ready, however they pushed me anyways. When the gun was shot off I went and when I approached the first hurdle I clipped it and fell, in what felt like slow motion. I was devastated and very upset with my mom for making me do it.

At first we thought it was nothing until I realized I couldn't walk. The doctor said it was an extremely bad deep bruise that would take quite some time to heal. So that is how my junior year track season ended.

scrunners: How do you stay motivated during this time?
mcarthur: I just keep an open mind and focus on the task at hand.

scrunners: Do you have any pre-meet traditions?
mcarthur: Before every meet, I usually only eat bananas for breakfast for some reason. And on the ride to the meet I listen to my iPod and talk to no one until I get there (unless asked a question or something). The method to this madness is to simply try to stay focused.

scrunners: Do you plan on continuing your season over this coming summer?
mcarthur: Depending on how much time I have available between working, getting ready for college, and attending orientation and summer sessions at College of Charleston.

scrunners: What do you look for in a coach and what do you expect a coach to look for you?
mcarthur: In a coach I look for a caring nature, one that will push me to make me better, who is willing to put in time to help his athletes, and one who sees when you are trying or hurt. I expect a coach to look for an athlete in me, one who is willing to work, who is respectful and gives 100-percent a 100-percent of the time.

scrunners: Have you met any professional athletes?
mcarthur: I don't believe I have met any professional athletes, but I would sure like to one day!

scrunners: Do you see yourself coming back in the future to help with the sport in South Carolina?
mcarthur: I hope that one day I can give back to the sport, whether it be donating money or giving my time to help young athletes like myself.

scrunners: Please tell us about your college choice.
mcarthur: I have signed with the College of Charleston.

scrunners: How and what made you make your decision?
mcarthur: I made my decision based on my major and the personality of the track team and coaches there. When I went to visit I really enjoyed how the athletes there treated me, and how they all welcomed me with open arms. Also the coach is an AMAZING man and he really seems to care about his team and knows them all individually.

scrunners: What did you learn from the college recruiting process?
mcarthur: That when beginning this process you must know what you want out of life and what you hope to be in the future. It makes things a lot easier when you know what field you want to study and what you are looking for in a college.

scrunners: What do you recommend to younger athletes that are interested in competing in the sports at the next level?
mcarthur: I would just encourage them to never give up no matter what, never let someone tell you what you can or can't accomplish, and also to spend more time in the class room studying and doing your school work than you do on the track. Remember without the grades you can go but so far.

scrunners: What do you see yourself achieving at the college level and future?
mcarthur: I hope to place top in conference in college and maybe one day make it to the Olympics. I believe that no dream is too high!

scrunners: Do you have any specific academic and athletic goals for the next level?
mcarthur: Athletically, I just hope to be the best I can be and go as far as I can. Academically, I hope to finish school as a pediatric surgeon, many years from now of course! :)

scrunners: How is it for you to move from field events to running events?
mcarthur: I find it easy to move from field events to running ones, because it gives me a break from one and allows me to rest the center parts of my body that each event strains. It also simply adds variety.

scrunners: How do you see yourself being remembered at Laurens?
mcarthur: I see myself being remembered as an intelligent very hard working respectful athlete, who was able to perform both on the track and in the classroom.

scrunners: What do you recommend to young athletes to achieve their best in the sport?
mcarthur: Be strong! Never give up no matter what tries to stop you, and like I said before the sky is the limit. With God first there is nothing you can't achieve, at least that's what I believe.

scrunners: If there is one thing in the world you could do, what would it be and why?
mcarthur: I would make it to the Olympics, so that I can say that I made it. Regardless of whether I would have a chance at winning or not I would be honored to simply compete on that level. And I must say in the same respect academically I would want to finally become a pediatric surgeon and buy my mother WHATEVER she wants, because she is worth it and has put so much time and money into making me who I am today!!!