Running Stride for Stide : Crenshaw High’s Inseparable Adolphus Triplets Hope to Go 1-2-3 in the City Finals 800


Jeff, Mark and Mike Adolphus are Crenshaw High track team’s triple threat.

Actually, they’re a triplet threat.

The 6-foot-2, 155-pound seniors, who will compete in the 800 meters and 1,600-meter relay in the Southern Pacific Conference finals Thursday at Veterans Stadium in Long Beach, are hoping to become the first triplets to qualify for City Section championships at the varsity level in the same event.

While the 800 will be a case of brother versus brother versus brother, there’s no animosity in the competition. On and off the track, the three are inseparable.

“We’re happy as long as one of us does well,” said Mike, the defending Southern Pacific Conference 800 champion. “Sometimes they beat me and sometimes I beat them. It’s a rivalry, but I hope we go 1-2-3 at City.”


Crenshaw track Coach Merle McGee would undoubtedly be pleased if that happened, but then he would be faced with the problem of figuring out who placed first, second and third. The seniors all sport “curly top”’ hair styles and do not help matters by wearing identical clothes to school every day.

“You can’t always use their face (to tell them apart) because they’re very much the same,” said McGee, who has coached the triplets throughout their high school careers. “You watch the way they walk or the way they talk. Sometimes they shave different designs or cut strips on their hair and you look for specifics like that. Most of the kids don’t know which one’s which. They just call them the ‘Trips.’ ”

Their mother, Esmie Smith, used to dress her sons in yellow, blue and red outfits to tell them apart. Smith, though, was left in the same predicament as McGee when the triplets decided to collaborate on their wardrobe in their freshman year of high school.

“When they dress alike, I don’t know the difference,” Smith said. “I get mixed up all the time and call them the wrong name.”

However, the brothers are well aware of their differences--especially the ones on the track.

Last season, Mark and Mike finished fifth and sixth in the 800 at the City finals and Jeff made it to the semifinals. As sophomores, Mike, Mark and Jeff were third, seventh and eighth, respectively, at the Bee level in 1991 City meet.


The triplets also make a pretty good team.

In April, they teamed with Antwon Dussett on Crenshaw’s 1,600-meter relay team, which clocked a seasonal best of 3 minutes 27.76 seconds at the Trabuco Hills Invitational.

Jeff has run 1:58.6 in the 800 and Mark and Mike have a best of 1:58.9. The triplets took up track when they were 9 and have been competing and training together since.

“It’s always great when you have training mates with similar abilities,” McGee said. “They can still do much better.”

The triplets showed early promise while competing in age-group track for the L.A. Jets. In 1986, they were members on the Jets’ champion midget boys’ (ages 10-11) 1,600-meter relay team at the Athletics Congress Youth Athletic championships in Chicago.

Jeff was the TAC Junior Olympic midget boys’ 800-meter champion in 1987, and the triplets ran on the Jets’ youth boys’ (ages 13-14) champion 3,200-meter relay team at the 1988 Junior Olympic championships in Gainesville, Fla.

“It’s more like a family team than a relay team when we run together,” Jeff said. “People we don’t know always start cheering us on. They love to see us run.”


Their popularity is similarly high off the track. Jeff was voted Crenshaw’s homecoming king last fall, and the three were named as the “Most Popular Male” by the senior class. Last year, they won a school talent show as a singing group.

The triplets will attend the University of Nebraska in the fall, where they will try to make the track team as walk-ons.

“We don’t want to separate until we have to,” Mark said.

So far, there has not been any need--or desire--for the brothers to do that. Mark and Mike have sat next to each other in the same classes throughout high school. Jeff is in four of their classes this year. In their room, three beds lie side-by-side.

The brothers also work at the same fast-food restaurant to earn funds to finance their college education.

“We make decisions together,” Mike said. “If it’s two-against-one, the other one is out of luck. He has to go along whether it’s what we wear or what we do. We do everything as one.”