And the coveted Orange Blossom goes to ...
By KEITH NIEBUHR
© St. Petersburg Times,
Actors have the Oscars, musicians the Grammys and athletes the ESPYs. We in Citrus County, on the other hand, have had nothing.
Today, we introduce the Orange Blossoms (Hey, it was either that or the Manatees), awarded to the top high school performances from the 2000-2001 school year. (There are no trophies, so please don't call us and ask when they'll be put in the mail.)
The honorees were chosen by yours truly.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A PITCHER: Crystal River's Clayton Trenary, who tossed a five-inning no-hitter against Springstead. (Okay, so Springstead wasn't the 1927 Yankees, but a no-no is a no-no). In his next outing, Trenary one-hit South Sumter.
BIGGEST UPSET: Crystal River's 7-0 win over Citrus in the semifinals of the Class 3A, District 6 softball tournament was a shocker. Citrus won both regular-season games. Crystal River wound up coming within a game of reaching the final four.
MOST INTENSE: Citrus weightlifter/football player Jordan Darga. This kid could make a pot of coffee nervous. Jordan finished second at the Class A state weighting meet at 169 pounds. The only time he sits at a meet is when he's doing the bench press.
BEST ARM: Lecanto's Jimmy Metz. The poor guy went just 2-7 (blame the errors) but had an ERA of 1.56 and led the county in strikeouts. Don't be surprised if he's taken in next year's draft.
BEST JUMP SHOT: Seven Rivers Christian guard Frankie Squire. When it counts, there's nobody else in Citrus County I'd rather have with the ball. Squire can hit the three-pointer, the pull-up jumper and isn't afraid to drive to the basket. Forget the small-school trash talk. This guy can play.
MOST DRAMATIC FINISH: Citrus vs. Cross City Dixie County, first round of the Class 3A girls basketball playoffs. In a back-and-forth battle, the Bears edged Citrus 55-53; but not before Hurricanes guard Kristin Berger hit three three-pointers in the final minutes.
BEST GAME: Citrus vs. Orlando Bishop Moore, second round of the Class 2A girls soccer playoffs. Bishop Moore, a national power, won 2-1, but the Hurricanes more than held their own.
MOST GIFTED: If there's an athlete around more talented than Citrus midfielder Amber Presnick, I haven't seen him or her play. Already a two-time Times All-Citrus/Hernando Soccer Player of the Year, Presnick, a rising junior, is headed for big things.
MOST HEART: Lecanto's Harold Skidmore. Hard-luck Harold gave it a great run before finishing second for the second consecutive year at the Class A state wrestling meet.
MOST VERSATILE: Lecanto's Kate Wheeler. The senior-to-be qualified for the state track meet in four events. Watching her run the 100-meter hurdles is like watching Joe Montana throw a football. She makes it look effortless.
BEST ATMOSPHERE: Citrus vs. Lecanto at the 4A-7 boys basketball tournament. Lecanto won 62-60 in a see-saw game that left those in attendance gasping for air.
MOST CONFIDENT: Citrus' Rick Miller. The basketball/cross country/track standout isn't a big fan of finishing second.
BEST LEG: Citrus' Matt Davis. He kicked a 54-yard field goal. Enough said.
BEST CONDITIONED: Citrus senior Lauren Gaffney. On the same day last November, she competed at the Class 2A cross country meet in Titusville (where she placed 13th) and the Class A swim meet in Orlando. Talk about a grueling afternoon.
BEST TEAM ACCOMPLISHMENT: Lecanto girls tennis. The Panthers, with little fanfare, quietly finished third at the state tournament.
BEST JOB OF FILLING A LEGEND'S SHOES: Crystal River football coach Jere DeFoor. In his first season after replacing longtime coach Earl Bramlett, DeFoor went 10-2 and won conference and district titles.
Well, friends, that's all -- until next year.
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