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Miller constantly is on the run

The three-sport star at Citrus is a ''blue-collar guy'' in pursuit of a state championship in the 800.

By KEITH NIEBUHR

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 4, 2001


INVERNESS -- Rick Miller does not need to be pushed by others.

His motivation comes from within.

When other kids sleep, Miller jogs. Instead of wasting away in front of the television set, he shoots hoops. At practice, when teammates are waiting for motivation and instruction, he is in motion.

Miller is, well, a workaholic.

"He's a blue-collar guy, no doubt about it," Citrus track coach Tom Darby said.

"He works incredibly hard in practice. Sometimes, he works so hard, he's about to throw up," Darby said. "He's a self-starter"

It is that work ethic that has made Miller, a senior, a three-sport standout.

In cross country, he finished 13th at state. On the basketball court, the 6-foot-2 forward and three-year starter is one of the area's top rebounders.

"He's an outstanding kid," Hurricanes basketball coach Jimmy Thomas said. "You really can't say enough about him.

"He's an overachiever in basketball. He works as hard as he can and goes full speed ahead all the time."

Track is Miller's best sport. Hands down.

As a junior, he finished third in the 800-meter run in the Class 2A state meet in Gainesville and was a member of Citrus' 4x800 relay team that placed 16th.

This season, Miller will compete in both of those events, along with the 4x400 and high jump.

"I'm pretty serious (about track and field)," Miller said. "I've been doing it for a long time."

Four years to be exact.

"I'm a competitive person," he said.

Miller's best shot at a state title again will come in the 800, ironically -- his least favorite event.

"I really don't enjoy it," Miller said.

"It's really painful to have to dig in, and it's hard. But I like the competition," he said. "My favorite (event) is the 400. It's just one lap and you're done."

In last year's state meet, Miller finished the 800 in 1:58.51 as Pensacola Catholic's Daniel Soule won in 1:57.16. Soule is a senior this year, and Miller knows that capturing the title will not be easy.

"My goal is to win," Miller said. "It's going to be hard, but I've worked hard. Once the season starts, I'll get back into it."

Right now, Miller is playing basketball, and that season could last well into the month. Once basketball is finished, he will make the difficult transition of getting into "track shape."

"Basketball and distance running are different kinds of movements," Miller said.

"With basketball, you're mostly doing lateral movements -- like jumping. Then you go to track, which is sprinting. It's different. You have to get your legs back into distance running shape. I like starting fresh with a different sport. There's a change of scenery."

The scenery changes, but Miller never does. "Blue collar people just go to work," Darby said.

Rick Miller

GRADE: Senior.

EVENTS: 800, 4x400, 4x800, high jump.

GPA: 3.8.

COLLEGE PLANS: Will attend Central Florida, Florida or South Florida. He hasn't decided whether he will participate in athletics.

NOTABLE: Miller finished 13th in the Class 2A state cross country meet in November.

Citrus

COACH: Bob Goddard, Tom Darby.

2000 RESULTS: District, regional champs, 8th in 2A state meet.

DISTRICT: 2A-5.

KEY LOSSES: Brent Mobley (sprints); Cory Presnick (distance); Rodney Lacey (discus); Jeff LaVere (distance); Doug Alexander (hurdles, 4x100), Phil Davis (4x100, 4x400).

KEY RETURNEES: Tony Lyons, So., (distance); Rick Miller, Sr., (distance, 4x400, high jump); Kendrick Ross, Sr., (high jump); John Rogers, Sr., (discus, shot); Jeremy Hensley, Sr., (discus, shot).

TOP NEWCOMERS: C.J. Bryant, Jr., (distance).

OUTLOOK: Mobley, who finished fifth at state in the 100-meter dash, and Presnick, who was third in the 1,600 and fifth in the 3,200, are gone, but the Hurricanes have plenty of talent to pick up the slack. Bryant, a transfer from Seven Rivers, was fifth in the 800 and 1,600 at last season's Class A state meet and had a strong fall running cross country. Miller was third at state in the 800. Lyons was seventh in the 3,200. Citrus is strong in many field events. Ross has high jumped 6-foot-4 and is capable of doing better. Rogers is back for his senior season after placing 15th at state in the shot last year.

Crystal River

COACH: Norris Lightsey.

2000 RESULTS: 28th in 2A state meet.

DISTRICT: 2A-5.

KEY LOSSES: Tarrance Rhodes (400).

KEY RETURNEES: Williams Millian, So., (pole vault); Matt Hinman, Jr., (shot, discus); Rob Thompson, Jr., (shot, discus); Clayton Trenary, Jr., (discus); Peter Manzoli, Sr. (distance); Duncan Mackie, Sr., (800, 4x400, 4x800); Doug Mays, Sr., (distance); Charles Harris, So., (pole vault, hurdles).

TOP NEWCOMERS: A.J. Davis, Sr., (sprints, distance, triple jump).

OUTLOOK: The Pirates return all but one key member of last season's team and added Davis, a versatile athlete who was a member of the squad as a sophomore but took last season off. Davis is strong in three events. Hinman, a solid football player and wrestler, is another standout. He qualified for regionals in the shot last year and has state meet possibilities. Millian returns after reaching state and finishing 14th in the pole vault as a freshman.

Lecanto

COACH: Ron Allan.

2000 RESULTS: 37th in 2A state meet.

DISTRICT: 2A-5.

KEY LOSSES: K.J. Atkins (4x400); Johnathan Bilby (pole vault); Mike Crispino (4x400); Jimmy Moore (4x400); Marcus Parrish (4x400).

KEY RETURNEES: Bryan Holcomb, Sr., (distance); James Crossley, Sr., (discus, shot); Phil Reed, So., (discus, shot); Chris Reeves, So., (discus, shot).

TOP NEWCOMERS: N/A.

OUTLOOK: This is Allan's first year as Lecanto's coach, but he has plenty of track experience. He threw the discus, javelin and shot at Ohio's Bluffton College. Lecanto's lone points at state last season came from its 4x100 team, which placed sixth. All four members from that squad are gone, however, and the Panthers will be relatively young. They should be strong in the distance events. Holcomb had an outstanding fall with the cross country team and will be a factor in the mile and 2-mile. He has the ability to qualify for state in both events. Holcomb should get more work with the relay squad. Allan thinks the Panthers will be strong in the field events.

Seven Rivers

COACH: Scott Lyons.

2000 RESULTS: 9th in A state meet.

DISTRICT: A-7.

KEY LOSSES: C.J. Bryant (distance).

KEY RETURNEES: Shawn Allen, Jr., (high jump); Bob Adams, Sr., (shot); Brook Julias, Jr., (distance); Brent Savage, Sr., (distance); Frank Squire, Sr., (sprints); Ron Vaughan, Sr., (sprints); Jesse Woods, Jr., (sprints, 4x400).

TOP NEWCOMERS: N/A.

OUTLOOK: Lyons, a first-year coach, will inherit a strong team as Seven Rivers Christian returns all but one member from last season's squad. The loss of Bryant, however, is a big one. He had a lot to do with the Warriors' ninth-place finish -- the best in school history -- at state. Allen is Seven Rivers' top returning athlete. He captured district and regional titles in the high jump last season, then finished second at state with a jump of 6-05. In local meets, he outperformed jumpers at Citrus, Crystal River and Lecanto. Allen was the only non-senior in the top five at state and is a legitimate title contender. The Warriors' 4x800 team, which finished fifth at state and returns three of four runners, should again be strong.

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