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By KEITH NIEBUHR
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2001
BUSHNELL -- Crafty coaching and clutch lifting helped Citrus knock off favorite South Sumter and claim the Citrus/Sumter Meet.
The Hurricanes, led by three individual wins and three seconds, finished with 64 points, one more than South Sumter and five more than third-place Lecanto. Crystal River, with 34 points, was fourth, followed by Wildwood.
"I'm pleasantly surprised," Citrus coach Jonny Bishop said. "Any time you're close to South Sumter, you've done something."
Citrus picked up wins from Ryan McLure (129), Clayton Swearingen (169) and Jordan Darga (219). McLure, a state qualifier who often competes at 139, and Darga, a regular at 169 and last year's state champ, were moved into different divisions by Bishop, which proved to be the difference.
Had McLure stayed at 139, he would have lost to Lecanto's Harold Skidmore. Darga, the strongest lifter in Citrus County, would have won at 169, but his move to 219 allowed Citrus to pick up wins in both divisions.
"Darga is one of those guys you love to have on your team because he's so versatile," Bishop said.
Darga's 620-pound total (340-pound bench, 280-pound clean and jerk) was a personal best.
There was more good news for Citrus as Flint Whitelaw (139) and Chris Vihrachoff (183) posted state meet qualifying totals, boosting the Hurricanes' state qualifiers to eight, a school record.
Lecanto got first-place performances from Skidmore, whose 470-pound total is a 40-pound jump from his previous season best, and James Crossley, who won at 238 with a 560-pound total. The Panthers also had four second-place finishers.
Brian Fields (139) and Terence Hollis (183) qualified for state, giving Lecanto five eligible lifters, one more than it had last season.
"I thought we did real well," coach Steve Sherland said. "This is the first time we've been this close to South Sumter and Citrus in this type of meet in years."
Nathan Messier (119), with a personal best of 355 pounds, was Crystal River's lone winner, but Matt Hinman (238) and A.J. Davis (139) qualified for state.
"We had a lot of kids improve," Crystal River coach Jere DeFoor said. "Most of our people went up 5-10 pounds."