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Wheeler leads 13 to Finals

Lecanto junior standout Kate Wheeler heads the area contingent as a qualifier in four events.


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 29, 2001

Leave it to Kate Wheeler to be unsatisfied with a performance in Thursday's Class 2A, Region 2 meet that saw her qualify for this week's Florida Finals in an area-best four events.

The Lecanto junior led a strong Citrus County contingent by winning the high jump and triple jump and finishing second in the 300-meter hurdles and 4x400 relay. She failed to qualify for state in a fifth event after false starting in the 100 hurdles.

"Kate does all those other events for Lecanto," Panthers coach Freddie Bullock said. "The 100 hurdles is her event. She does that for Kate. She took it hard (Thursday night). She offered no excuses.

"The one thing you do in sprint events is focus on your lane. She looked over at another girl, who flinched, and she took off."

In all, 13 area athletes earned state berths. The Lecanto girls, the county's most consistent team this season, finished second in the regional to Titusville Astronaut.

Wheeler was one of seven Panthers to reach the Florida Finals. The others going are Kylene Colasanti, Nicole Gasiorek, Amanda Howard, Nicole Mailloux, Deidra Witherspoon and Liz Witherspoon.

Colasanti won the 300 hurdles and qualified in the high jump and 4x400. Deidra Witherspoon (3,200, 4x800) and her sister, Liz (4x400, 4x800), advanced in multiple events.

"They really did well," Bullock said. "There were glitches here and there like at any meet, but when we had a glitch in one place, somebody else performed better than they were supposed to."

Citrus sophomore Myesha Hollis continued to impress, winning the long jump with a leap of 18 feet and finishing second to Wheeler in the triple jump. Hollis should be a contender for a state championship in the long jump.

The Hurricanes' Cindy Herndon advanced after tying her school record in the pole vault (9-6) to finish fourth. She is a three-time state qualifier.

The area's only other winner came in the boys competition. Citrus senior Rick Miller set the school record in the 800 by finishing in 1:56.39. He overtook Orlando Bishop Moore's Brandon Saltmarsh in the final 100 yards.

"He was excellent," Citrus coach Tom Darby said. "He was excellent and had good strategy. He wanted to draft off (Saltmarsh) and kick at the end, which is exactly what he did."

Miller is no stranger to state competition, having finished third in the 800 of last year's meet. He will be joined by three teammates -- discus thrower Jeremy Hensley and distance runners C.J. Bryant and Tony Lyons.

Class 2A state meet

WHEN: Saturday.

WHERE: Coral Springs High School.

LOCAL BOYS: Citrus -- C.J. Bryant (1,600), Jeremy Hensley (discus), Tony Lyons (3,200), Rick Miller (800).

LOCAL GIRLS: Citrus -- Cindy Herndon (pole vault), Myesha Hollis (long jump, triple jump). Lecanto -- Kylene Colasanti (high jump, 300 hurdles, 4x400), Nicole Gasiorek (4x400), Amanda Howard (4x800), Nicole Mailloux (4x800), Kate Wheeler (high jump, triple jump, 300 hurdles, 4x400), Deidra Witherspoon (3,200, 4x800), Liz Witherspoon (4x400, 4x800). -- KEITH NIEBUHR

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