At the 1998 New Jersey high school state championships the twins squared off in the 200 final in a race Garden State track enthusiasts still talk about. Lisa burst to a quick lead, but with five meters to go Miki shifted into the extra gear that defines her style and passed her sister to win in 24 flat. Lisa crossed in 24.01. Lunging at the finish line, Lisa lost her balance and tumbled to the ground, bruising and scraping herself badly. "I was just soooo glad prom was already over," she says.
"[Miki and Lisa] were lambs off the track and lions on the track," Montclair High coach Doris Ellis said then. "They are just as nice as they are fast. They are one of a kind."
Well, not exactly. In November 1997, Gamecocks coach Frye signed another pair of twin sprinters, Mechelle and Mikisha Lewis, from Maryland. Frye is used to seeing double: His two oldest children, Curtell and Curtis, are twins, and his wife, Wilma, is also a twin. In the summer of '97, Wilma saw the Barbers at a national junior meet and told her husband she had discovered an "incredible" pair of twin splinters he ought to recruit. "I already know about them, dear," replied Curtis. It wasn't until May of '98 that the Fryes realized they were talking about different sets of twins. Curtis got the Barbers to come to Columbia for a visit. Their first question was, "Do you have two scholarships?" He did.
There are differences between the twins, of course. Lisa wears her hair long and is majoring in marketing, for example, while Mild has shorter hair and is studying journalism. But they room together at school (they're suitemates with the Lewis twins), and they stayed together in Fayetteville. When asked to name their greatest similarity, Mild and Lisa blurt out in perfect stereo, "We don't like to lose." Their dream, they say, is to finish one-two in a race at the NCAAs or Olympics and then take a victory lap around the track, arm in arm.
"We push each other when we're up, and we carry each other when we're down," says Miki. "But the greatest thing about doing all this together is that it's a lot more fun."
Twice as much, to be exact.