Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Twins Brittany and Dontae McGee share competitive fire

ST. PETERSBURG — As twins, Admiral Farragut Academy's Brittany and Dontae McGee gained their closeness — and competitiveness — early.

Brittany was born first, two minutes before Dontae. Athletically, Dontae got the head start as a wrestler. Brittany, though, picked up some of those moves and used them to settle arguments at home.

In track and field, Brittany is a star in multiple events. Dontae followed suit and started winning, too.

"We're competitive in everything and anything you can imagine," Brittany said. "We'll say stuff to each other like, 'Oh, I have a better grade by half a percentage point in class or I can clean this faster than you can.' "

That sibling rivalry helped them become elite athletes who are heading to Division I programs.

Brittany, a Stanford signee, is the defending Class A state champion in the 100 and 300 hurdles, becoming the first girl at Admiral Farragut to win a state title in any sport.

Dontae, who signed with Ohio, is a two-time state wrestling champion, winning his first title with the renowned Brandon program before adding another with the Blue Jackets.

On Friday, they will be competing in track as they try to become the first brother-sister tandem to win state titles in the hurdles in the same season at the Class A meet.

Brittany is the overwhelming favorite to win as the top seed in the 100 hurdles (14.48) and 300 hurdles (44.73). Dontae has some catching up to do to join his sister. He is the fourth seed in the 110 hurdles (15.04) and fifth seed in the 300 hurdles (40.78).

"We've pushed to be better in everything for so long," Dontae said. "It certainly would be nice to go out as champions together."

The McGees were born in Ohio. That's where Dontae first started in wrestling. He stayed with the sport after the family moved to Brandon when the twins were 5. Two years later, Dontae was competing at the Sunshine State Games when the family entered Brittany in a track competition so she would not get bored watching her brother wrestle.

Brittany did well in her first meet and was soon coming home with a bagful of medals. By the time Brittany was 10, she had already qualified for the Junior Olympics.

"You know, I probably could have wrestled and done well, but I didn't like that whole cutting weight thing," she said.

The twins remained close, despite their rivalry. In 2010, their father, Thomas, was deployed to Iraq. That is when he decided to enroll Dontae at Admiral Farragut.

"I had the military background," said Thomas, who is now retired from the Air Force. "I thought it would be good for Dontae to be in that environment and learn about self discipline and those sorts of things. Plus, I didn't want it to be too much of a burden for my wife to take care of two children throughout the week."

Brittany joined Dontae the following year. Then the two were split again. Dontae went back to Brandon as a sophomore while Brittany boarded at Admiral Farragut Monday through Friday before coming home on the weekends.

"Dontae had wrestled with the Brandon program practically his whole life and I thought it would be a travesty if he wasn't able to be on that high school team," Thomas said.

Dontae stayed at Brandon for two years before coming back to Admiral Farragut to join his sister for their senior year.

Besides winning individual titles in track, they also are trying to win team titles. Brittany has the best shot at that, too, thanks to a solid supporting cast that includes Katie Barnett and Ashaunti Brown.

"Of course we argue like siblings and we're competitive because that's how we were raised," Brittany said. "In the end, we support each other and are wanting for the both of us to do well."

Contact Bob Putnam at [email protected] Follow @BobbyHomeTeam.

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