Phil Anastasia: Pleasantville's Clark twins take 1-2 in the 800 at South Jersey Group 2 state track championship meet

Isaac (left) and Jacob Clark went 1-2 in the 800 in Group 2. Isaac also runs the 400, and Jacob the 1,600.
Isaac (left) and Jacob Clark went 1-2 in the 800 in Group 2. Isaac also runs the 400, and Jacob the 1,600. (PHIL ANASTASIA / Staff)
Posted: June 03, 2012

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. – Isaac Clark runs 400 meters. He's a little faster than his brother.

Jacob Clark runs the 1,600 meters. He's a little stronger than his brother.

Both twins run the 800 meters. It's an event that showcases Issac's speed and Jacob's stamina, a middle ground that becomes the brothers' battleground.

"It's the only event they both run," Pleasantville coach Alan Laws said. "In everything else, I have to keep them away from each other."

For the second Saturday in a row, the Greyhound juniors went 1-2 in the 800 meters. But there was a twist at the Group 2 state championship meet at Frank Jost Field.

At the South Jersey championships May 26 at Buena, Jacob Clark won the 800 and Issac Clark was second. This time, Issac broke the tape in one minute, 52.69 seconds, with Jacob second in 1:53.42.

"It's great to win and it's great to have my brother finish second," said Isaac Clark, who also beat his brother coming into the world 17 years ago - by 15 minutes. "That's the best thing about the 800, that we run it together and push each other."

The twins say they compete in everything, from video games (Madden NFL is their favorite), to grades in school (Laws says they both are A-B students) to drills in practice.

"A lot of times I have to keep them in different groups because they push each other too hard," Laws said. "Neither of them wants to let his brother get the better of him."

But it's only in the 800 that the twins get to officially compete on the track. They both run on the 4x400-relay team and each will cheer for the other during the 400 meters and 1,600 meters.

"Sometimes, I have tell them to sit down because they are always up, cheering for each other and their teammates," Laws said.

On Friday night, Jacob Clark finished second in the 1,600 meters in 4:17.37, while Issac Clark finished second in the 400 meters in 49.05.

But on a sunny Saturday afternoon, the twins walked to the starting line together knowing that only one of them would get to the finish line first.

"The 800 is my favorite race," Jacob Clark said. "I like the 1,600, but in the 800 you have to use your speed and know when to make your move."

Isaac Clark said the 400 is his favorite race but admits he's partial to the 800 as well.

"I like the 800 because I get to run with him," Isaac Clark said, pointing at his brother. "We're luckier than a lot of other runners because we have each other. It makes you go faster."

Both were entering the race as champions. Jacob won the 800 at last weekend's sectional meet, while Isaac won this race last season.

"I asked [Isaac] if he was going to give his title to his brother," Laws said. "He said he wasn't going to let it happen."

The 800 is among the most grueling events on the track. The 400 is the last of the sprints, and the 1,600 is the first of the distance races, but the 800 is a rich mix of both events - a test of speed, strength, endurance, strategy, and the fortitude to find that winning kick.

Isaac Clark led from start to finish. His winning time was nearly three seconds faster than his first-place time in 2011.

Jacob Clark stayed on his brother's heels for 800 meters. He out-leaned Hopatcong's hard-charging Dylan Capwell for second place, ensuring that the twins would bring gold and silver back to their shared bedroom in Pleasantville.

"I wanted to win," Jacob Clark said. "But if I didn't win, I'm glad my brother did."


Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223, panastasia@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @PhilAnastasia. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports

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