By KEITH NIEBUHR
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 29, 2001
LECANTO -- Citrus coach Jonny Bishop had to smile.
At the three-team Citrus County Meet, his squad claimed the title for the second consecutive year, set numerous personal bests and qualified yet another lifter for next month's Class A state meet.
"I'm pretty excited about the way things went," Bishop said.
The Hurricanes finished with 54 points, 11 more than second-place Lecanto. Crystal River was third with 12 points. All 20 Citrus lifters had personal-best efforts, and Justin Taylor, competing at 199 pounds, became the Hurricanes' eighth state qualifier.
"During spring break, they were in there (lifting)," Bishop said. "I gave them a day off, but they didn't want it."
As usual, Citrus' effort was topped by 169-pounder Jordan Darga, the defending state champion. Darga bench pressed 340 pounds then clean-and-jerked 285 for a 625-pound total, the county's best this season. Citrus also picked up wins from Ryan McLure (129), Clayton Swearingen (183), Greg Haight (199), Adam Ferguson (219), Dan Marinelli (238) and Mike Maxwell (heavyweight).
"Those guys came through, and they're young," Bishop said.
Lecanto put up a fight.
The Panthers, who got wins from Nick Derise (119), Harold Skidmore (139) and Travis McCauley (154), led 35-29 before Citrus earned four wins in the higher weight classes. They also qualified three more lifters -- Jimmy Rodriguez (139), McCauley and Joe Stasio (169) -- for state, giving them eight. "I think we did real well," Lecanto coach Steve Sherland said. "If we could have stopped in the middle weight classes, we would have been in good shape. We were real competitive. As long as they keep improving, that's all I ask for."
Crystal River was hurt by the absence of two of its top lifters -- 119-pounder Nathan Messier and 139-pounder A.J. Davis. Messier had a sore wrist. Davis was sick.