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Track: AFA's McGee puts no limits on her skills

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Fri. April 5, 2013 | Bob Putnam | Email

Track: AFA's McGee puts no limits on her skills

Admiral Farragut’s Brittany McGee flies solo in track practice, dashing down the asphalt surface in sprints and hurdles. Her workouts are a lonely endeavor, in part because there is no one fast enough to push her.

Last year, McGee trained with her twin brother, Dontae, who also ran track at Admiral Farragut. But Dontae transferred to Brandon after his grades started slipping.

“It’s tough because my brother did a lot of the same events as me,” said McGee, a sophomore. “I would chase him, and he helped me get faster.”

Though practices are now conducted alone, McGee has maintained her dominance, with times and distances that not only rank among the state’s best in Class A, but also the nation.

On Thursday, McGee finished second in the long jump at the Florida Relays, leaping a personal-record 19 feet, ¼ inch, nearly 6 inches better than her previous best. The mark ranks 22nd in the nation.

Unfortunately, two other long jumpers in Class A, North Florida Christian’s Darrielle McQueen and Lake Mary Prep’s Abby Hani, are in the top 10 nationally.

“There are so many great long jumpers that it’ll be tough to win,” McGee said. “It’ll come down to whoever is jumping best that day.”

McGee’s best shot at winning a state title will come in the hurdles. In her class, she has the state’s fastest time in the 100 hurdles (14.63) and second fastest in the 300 (46.03).

“Those are the two events that I’m really aiming for,” she said.

But her talent is not limited to hurdles. McGee ranks among the state’s best in the high jump and is good enough to place among the top eight at state in the triple jump. But athletes are allowed to participate in only four events at state and McGee will likely drop those two because they are too taxing.

She is making that decision based on experience. Last year, McGee battled through shin splints that sidelined her part of the regular season. She came back to place second in the long jump, third in the 100 hurdles and fifth in the high jump at state.

“Brittany is good enough to win the high jump,” said Admiral Farragut volunteer coach Phil Barnhill, who works mostly with McGee. “But that’s an awful lot to ask to go through two field events and run preliminaries and finals in two hurdle events. We’ll mostly have her do the high jump at districts (next) week and take a wait-and-see approach after that.”

At meets, McGee is economy in motion, cycling through events with ease. Her versatility is well-suited for the heptathlon, which she also happens to excel at in the offseason.

The heptathlon is a grueling competition that consists of the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200-meter sprint on the first day, then the long jump, javelin and 800 meters the next day.

McGee placed ninth overall in the heptathlon at last year’s New Balance Outdoor Nationals, a feat even more impressive considering she was the only freshman in the top 10. In June, McGee will compete in the World Youth Track and Field Trials to qualify for the world team.

“Brittany still has to work on some events, like the javelin and the 800,” Barnhill said. “But she can do so many things well. I think the heptathlon is what she’ll be doing in college.”

District schedules
Class 2A-10

When/where: 11 a.m. Thursday, Spoto
Teams: Sarasota Booker, Arcadia DeSoto County, Wachula Hardee, Lakewood, Lehigh, Bradenton Southeast, Spoto

Class A-8
When/where: 3:30 p.m. Friday, Calvary Christian
Teams: Academy at the Lakes, Bayshore Christian, Calvary Christian, Carrollwood Day, Indian Rocks Christian, Seffner Christian, Tampa Bay Christian, Tampa Prep

Class A-9
When/where: 4 p.m. Thursday
Teams: Winter Haven All Saints’, Bishop McLaughlin, Clearwater Central Catholic, Fort Meade, Lakeland Christian, Lakeside Christian, Lakeland McKeel, Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic, Lake Wales Vanguard

Class A-10
When/where: 11 a.m. Thursday, Sarasota Out-of-Door
Teams: Admiral Farragut, Bradenton Christian, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney, Canterbury, Keswick Christian, Northside Christian, Out-of-Door, Sarasota Christian, Shorecrest, St. Petersburg Catholic, Bradenton St. Stephen’s

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