Brittany McGee’s four individual titles at the Class A track meet in Jacksonville on May 1 were instrumental in the Admiral Farragut Academy girls track team becoming the first bay area girls program to win a state title in almost 20 years.
The Stanford-bound senior captured first place in the long jump (19-3.75), triple jump (38-8), 100 hurdles (13.98), and 300 hurdles (44.39). Katie Barnett’s second place finish in the triple jump (38.0) and fifth in the long jump (17-3.75) along with Ashaunti Brown’s third place showing in the shot put (36-11) and fourth in the discus (116-9) were also instrumental in helping the BlueJackets win the first girls team title in school history.
“It’s one of those stories you will be able to tell to your kids one day,” said Brittany, who became the sixth girls athlete to win four individual titles at a single meet and the first in the bay since 1996. “It was probably the best I’ve ever felt at a meet and the best I’ve ever performed.”
Claiming a state title was something track coach Phil Barnhill envisioned at the beginning of the season and he conveyed that with the team.
“I thought we had a nice collection of kids from the older ones with experience to the younger ones just starting out,” Barnhill said. “They were composed throughout the whole season. Having Brittany as the anchor was key to the development and continuity of the team, but having athletes like Katie and Ashaunti perform well and then to have other ones gain points allowed us to win an overall title. Everyone on the team proved instrumental.”
Ashaunti ‘16 was second in the discus and third in the shot put at last year’s state meet.
Katie ‘17, who transferred from Shorecrest at the beginning of this academic school year, finished third in the triple jump and fourth in the long jump as a freshman at last year’s state finals.
The idea of team in this sport which essentially relies on individual performances — albeit the relay events — was seen throughout the year in several different moments.
For example, without Ashaunti, Charlisa Jenkins ’15 probably wouldn’t have competed in the shot put in which she gained four points for the team by finishing in fifth place.
“She was basically the one that motivated me to compete,” said Charlisa, who will play basketball at Gardner Webb University next year. “I was just going to relax for the spring and get ready for basketball, but Ashaunti kept pushing me to compete. Each day, she would say, ‘C’mon Charlisa, I will help you if you just come out to practice.’ I eventually did and she was so important in me doing well.”
In addition, Brittany’s leadership paved the way for eighth grader Jazmine Alderman, who finished fifth in the 100 M and fourth in the 200 M.
“She was so encouraging throughout the season and really helped me learn how to run,” Jazmine said. “Just watching her at practice motivated all of us. She is such a professional in the way she goes about doing things. She taught me how to become a better runner and how to prepare.”
In addition to setting school history, the track team helped in changing the minds of people throughout the state.
“To have the girls do so well has meant wonders for the school’s name,” Barnhill said. “The image of Farragut is different things to different people who don’t know what Farragut is all about. To have a group of girls represent the school in the way they have goes a long way in changing the image of Farragut.”
The boys team finished a respectable fourth behind Westminster Academy, First Academy and Maclay School. Alex Gray claimed a gold medal in the 200 M with a time of 21.80 and added a second place showing in the 100 M with a time of 10.82.
Other participants for the boys team who made it to the finals for their respective events included: Zach Fine (14th in the triple jump), Keyon Jenkins (10th in the shot put), Dontae McGee (3rd in the 110 M hurdles, 8th in the 300 M hurdles), Patrick McNamara (7th in the 1600 M), Cameron Pesola (tied for 8th in the pole vault) and the relay team of Anthony Evans, Dontae McGee, Dontell Green and Alex Gray (3rd in the 4×100).