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State track: Even injured, Admiral Farragut’s McGee prevails

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Fri. May 2, 2014 | Bob Putnam | Email

South Florida Heat athlete Kristi Isabelle (979) helps Admiral Farragut's Brittany McGee (22) off the track after McGee injured herself winning the state championship in the 300-meter hurdle.Dunedin's Ahmad Middleton is overcome with joy after winning his heat in the boys 300 hurdles.

JACKSONVILLE — Admiral Farragut’s Brittany McGee was a few strides from sweeping the hurdle events at the Class A state meet at the University of North Florida when her legs started to feel as heavy as anchors.
 
The junior’s form was off, her gait stiff. She said her right ankle felt as if someone was stabbing it, hard. But McGee had a big enough lead that she was able to hobble across the finish line to win the 300 hurdles in 46.44 seconds, nearly a second faster than Kristi Isabelle of South Florida Heat (47.35). Afterward, McGee stumbled to the ground before being carried off to the trainer’s table, where her ankle was heavily wrapped.
 
“It hurt real bad, like I was running on pins and needles,” McGee said. “But I couldn’t stop. I had to finish that race. I had to win.”
 
The injury occurred at the start of the race. McGee said she twisted her ankle coming out the blocks and winced through the rest. Three weeks ago, she was diagnosed with tendonitis in her ankle, an injury severe enough that trainers recommended she go through pool workouts rather than run in postseason meets.
 
“There was no way I could not stop running,” McGee said.
 
She was dominant Friday, winning the 100 hurdles in 14.83 to become the first female athlete from AFA to win a state title in any sport. She followed that with a third-place finish in the long jump (18-3 ¼) and finished by adding her title in the 300 hurdles.
 
“The wins are pretty significant for me,” McGee said. “Now, I’m going to take my trainer’s advice and take a solid week off.”
 
McGee’s teammate, Ashaunti Brown, battled through wet, windy conditions to finish second in the discus with a personal record of 117 feet, 1 inch and third in the shot put (35-2 ¼). The Blue Jacket girls tied for fourth overall with 40 points, the highest finish of any county school.
 
In the Class 2A state meet, Ahmad Middleton’s legs sliced through the 300 hurdles as crisply as scissors to win in 37.12, a time that currently ranks as the second-fastest in Florida and seventh-fastest in the nation.
 
The Dunedin senior was perhaps the happiest champion of the day, flashing a smile as he crossed the finish line in a moment of unfiltered joy for a title he could finally embrace.
 
“I didn’t make it to states in the 110 hurdles, so I had to put everything into this race,” Middleton said. “I had to make up for it myself and win it. I knew I was going pretty fast, but I didn’t know how fast until my coaches told me afterward.”
 
Middleton also was third in the long jump (22-0 1/2).
 
The county’s other state champion was Indian Rocks Christian junior Bobbi LaBrant, who won the Class A pole vault title with a height of 10 feet.
 
“In the back of my mind, I knew I could win,” LaBrant said. “I just prayed that I would do my best. It was pouring rain, which made it difficult. But when the bar was raised to 9-6, there was only one other girl left, which took a lot of pressure of me.”
 
The Class A girls sprints were a battle between Northside Christian’s Deterrica Simpkins and Shorecrest’s Assata Trader. Simpkins was third in the 200 (24.87) and third in the 100 (12.43). Trader was fourth in the 100 (12.46), fifth in the 200 (25.62) and teamed with Katie Barnett, Caroline Gibbons and Nicole Levine to finish fourth in the 4x100 relay (51.37).
 
Barnett also was third in the triple jump (35-1 ¼) and fourth in the long jump (18-2 ¼).
 
Calvary’s 4x100 relay team of Jess Stewart, Keely Durbak, Emily Curran and Serena Szarejko was third in 50.69.
 
For the Class A boys, Canterbury’s Chris Olson took third in the discus (143-11), St. Petersburg Catholic’s Mike Rusnak was third in the 400 (49.73) and CCC’s Diquan Walker was fourth in the long jump (21-4 ¾). Indian Rocks Christian’s 4x800 team of Michael Cavonis, Zach Trador, Drew Street and Sam Weller were fourth in 8:18.06.
 
In 2A girls, Gibbs’ Jerosan Fletcher was fourth in the 400 (57.96).

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