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Victory is running through Miller's mind

By KEITH NIEBUHR

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2001


INVERNESS -- Citrus senior Rick Miller will have just one thing in mind when he lines up for the 800 meters in Saturday's Class 2A state meet in Coral Springs -- winning.

"It's the crowing achievement in sports," Miller said. "You work all this time; you don't want to go home without something."

Miller has every reason to be optimistic. At last year's state meet in Gainesville, he finished third in the 800 with a time of 1:58.51. Last week, he won the event in the Region 2 meet in Brooksville with a school record time of 1:56.39.

"He's done real well," Hurricanes coach Tom Darby said. "We expected him to do well."

To win Saturday, he may have to do better than he has before. Pensacola Catholic's Daniel Soule, one of the two runners to finish ahead of Miller in the 2000 state meet and the defending champion, returned this season and has continued his torrid pace. He was first in the Region 1 meet with a time of 1:55.35 and second in last fall's Class 2A state cross country championships in Titusville, where Miller finished 13th.

Soule clocked in at 1:52 earlier in the season.

Orlando Bishop Moore's Brandon Saltmarsh, whom Miller edged at regionals, is projected to be the other top contender. Saltmarsh led most of the way in Brooksville before Miller made a surge during the final 100 yards.

"(Miller) was excellent, and he had a good strategy," Darby said. "He wanted to draft off Saltmarsh and kick at the end, which is exactly what he did. ... It was a smart race, a very intelligent race."

Miller is one of six Citrus athletes headed to state.

The others are: C.J. Bryant (1,600), Jeremy Hensley (discus), Cindy Herndon (pole vault), Myesha Hollis (long jump, triple jump) and Tony Lyons (3,200).

Bryant finished fifth in the 800 and 1,600 in the 2000 Class A meet when he competed for Seven Rivers Christian. Herndon, owner of Citrus' pole vault record, is a three-time state qualifier. Lyons finished seventh in the 3,200 last year as a freshman.

Hensley and Hollis will be making their first trips to state. Hollis is one of four girls in 2A to jump 18 feet or better in the long jump at regionals.

Hollis, Lyons and Miller are thought to have legitimate chances of winning individual championships. Only three Citrus athletes have claimed state titles. The last was Jordan Darga, who won a weightlifting crown in 2000.

"It's definitely elite company at our school," Miller said. "When you win, it's something really big."

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