Miami track All-American eyes Olympics

Finley Mclear vying for spot on British team in 800-meter run

When Finley Mclear learned that Miami was one of four schools interested in recruiting him, he thought for the briefest of periods that it might be the South Florida version.

“I thought, ‘Great. Sunshine and beaches,’” he recalled on Monday. “That’s not how it came out.”

The 21-year-old native of County Devono in England’s southwest corner learned pretty quickly that the Miami showing interest in his track and field talents was located in Southwest Ohio – not South Florida.

“It wasn’t like I got off the plane and said, ‘Wait. This isn’t South Florida,” he said with a laugh. “I’m glad I made the decision. This is an underrated track-and-field program and underrated coaches. I bought into the program.”

Clearly, he’s not regretting the development. Mclear has seen his 800-meter career flourish while competing for the RedHawks, culminating in being named first team All-America after finishing fourth in the NCAA Outdoor Championships on June 11 at Eugene, Ore.

Finley Mclear
Finley Mclear

Mclear, who finished second in the event at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, finished the outdoors 800 final in 1 minute, 45.80 seconds, breaking the Miami record he set earlier this season while helping lead the RedHawk men to their first Mid-American Conference championship since 1993. His fourth-place NCAA finish is Miami’s best men’s outdoor showing since Brian Carlton placed third in the 5000-meter run in 1985.

“It wasn’t quite what I expected,” he said by phone from England. “The top level of the NCAAs is one of the highest standards in the world. It’s really tough. Even though I finished second in the NCAA Indoor meet, I knew it’d be very tough (outdoors). I knew it would be a challenge, but I knew that, if I performed up to my capabilities, I knew I’d produce. I came close, but not close enough to winning. The talent level is so high, but the expectations were there.”

Mclear finished exactly one second behind Southern California senior Isaiah Jewett. Texas A&M freshman Brandon Miller was second and Oregon senior Charlie Hunter – who edged Mclear at the indoors race – finished third.

Mclear is the 24th Miami men’s track and field competitor to be named an NCAA All-American.

The son of Joann and Steve Mclear grew up playing soccer and basketball before gravitating to track a few years ago. He developed quickly, posting the United Kingdom’s best under-17 1500-meter time in 2016.

“I guess mostly I was a bit better at track” he said. “There’s a whole life aspect to it instead of just being a sport. Track gives me other experiences. It gave me a new social life. I just enjoy racing. I think one of the reasons it it’s just me. There’s no team around me. It comes down to just me.”

Mclear squeezed in as much off-the-track experience as he could during his week in Oregon.

“I found that I needed to use this experience to take into other experiences,” he said. “You spend all that time building up to run a minute-40. You spend a whole week building up with the prelims and heats and traveling and staying in hotels. It’s a matter of taking in the whole event and learning from it as well. I learned that you really should focus on other things.”

Mclear was hoping to put his experience to use this coming weekend the British Olympic Trials in Manchester, England, six hours north of County Devon. Making the team is another matter. His current best time is .6 seconds off the Olympic standard time of 1:45.2.

“If you finish in the top three with that time or better, you’re guaranteed to go,” he said. “If you’re in the top three without that time, you may not go. I’ll have to make up for the mistakes I made in the NCAAs. I just need to run with a bit more freedom.”