Ruston High brothers Keitavious and Kemondrick Walter had to be coaxed to try out for the track team.
Less than two years later, the sprinters are two of the best in Louisiana.
The brothers rely on healthy competition to better each other.
“It doesn’t matter what race we run. If we’re running against each other, we’re going to compete,” said younger brother Kemondrick Walter, a junior. “We’re not worried about anybody else around us. We want the fastest time, and we’re worried about beating each other.”
And more often than not, one of the Walters is atop the podium.
Kemondrick won the LHSAA state indoor title in the 60 meters with a 6.86 in the finals in February. Keitavious, a senior, finished second with a 6.92 after setting the Carl Maddox Field House high school record with a 6.83 in the preliminaries.
“I’m happy he got it, and I’m happy to come in second behind him,” Keitavious said. “He got the state championship, I’ve got the record. (The competition) is the best. We argue all the time at home (about who’s faster), but when we come to the track meet, we’re thinking, ‘Let’s get this together.'”
The two runners continued their dominance so far in the outdoor season.
Ruston coach Allen Whitaker said Keitavious turned up the heat on his younger brother outdoors, including a win in the pair’s meet at North DeSoto with a 10.56 in the 100 meters. Kemondrick finished third behind Haughton’s Josh Lister, but Kemondrick has won two other 100 meters races this season without Keitavious in the field.
Keitavious shave one-hundredth of a second off his best time at Wednesday’s District 2-5A meet, winning the 100 in 10.55 seconds, while Kemondrick finished third (10.95). They also ran on the Bearcats’ winning 400-meter relay team.
“The competition is definitely there, and ever since the younger brother beat the older brother in indoor, I’ve seen a change in the big brother,” Whitaker said. “He has to show his little brother that he’s better.
“These guys can be the state champion and state runner-up (in the 100). I don’t know which one is going to get it, but it can be either one. I know they are going to take their talents to the next level.”
Keitavious’ 10.55 is the third-fastest time in the state in all classifications, and Kemondrick’s 10.80 ranks at No. 18.
Kemondrick smiles and says he uses his state championship whenever Keitavious wants to brag about his outdoor success.
Both brothers agree that Kemondrick is faster out of the blocks (beneficial in the 60 meters), while Keitavious has a stronger kick later in the race, which would explain his 100 meters success over Kemondrick.
“(Kemondrick) is a faster starter, then I have kick at the end,” Keitavious said. “I might have a bad start, but I finish hard.”
Added Kemondrick, “(Keitavious’) steps are more powerful than mine, that’s why he comes up faster.”
The Ruston coaching staff persuaded Keitavious to run track before the 2014 indoor season, but Kemondrick didn’t follow suit until the 2014 outdoor season.
Whitaker said they’ve both embraced a good work ethic with a lot still to learn as young sprinters.
“The key (to keeping them) was actually seeing others compete on the track, then coaches come to them and say they see potential in them,” Whitaker said. “When someone showed interest in them, that was the turning point, that somebody believes in them.
“It took a whole lot to get their technique right, and those guys still don’t really know how to run. The form isn’t the best, but they are learning and asking what they can do to better themselves. That competition level has lifted the entire team in practice every day.”
The brothers grew up with a basketball and football background, and even though they realized they were quick on the courts and fields, they didn’t race each other.
“That’s the ironic part, we never really did (race),” Kemondrick said.
Keitavious added that middle school basketball helped build his leg strength, and both dabbled in football and basketball at Ruston until he found track.
“They said come out and run track with us, and I said OK,” Keitavious said about his beginning track as a junior. “I didn’t do well in the first meet, but by the time outdoor season came along, I realized I could be pretty good.”
Kemondrick was a tougher sell, but he eventually got on board this past outdoor season, too.
“I didn’t want to run because, man, I didn’t want to be dead after every practice,” Kemondrick said. “But the coaches got me to come out … and I tried to work out and I halfway died.
“But they said they saw something in me, and told me I could be working harder and to come back out. I just kept coming, and I improved a lot.”
Keitavious plans on running at Hinds Community College (Miss.) and is receiving interest from Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State with the hope of drawing LSU’s attention.
Kemondrick could follow his big brother to Hinds, but first, he wants a 1-2 finish in the Class 5A 100 meters on May 9 at LSU’s Bernie Moore Stadium.