By KEITH NIEBUHR
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 19, 2000
TITUSVILLE -- The state title drought at Citrus lives, but not without a fight. Armed with perhaps its best team ever, Citrus placed fourth at the Class 2A state cross country meet for the second consecutive year and the third time in four seasons.
The Hurricanes finished with 120 points, 14 behind first-place Jesuit, the prerace favorite, nine points out of second and one point behind third-place Orlando Bishop Moore at Brevard Community College.
No Citrus athletic program has won a state title in the school's 89 years.
"I thought our kids ran their hearts out," coach Bruce Nelson said. "They did everything they could. Jesuit is just a better team."
Citrus placed three runners -- Logan Bollenback (eighth), Tony Lyons (11th) and Rick Miller (13th) in the top 15. A fourth runner, C.J. Bryant, finished 32nd but was slowed by a nagging shin splint.
The area's top individual finisher was John Emerson of Hernando, who took seventh. Hernando finished 11th. Emerson missed last year's state meet with a broken ankle.
"I had a good day," Emerson said. "But a lot of people had good days."
Central, led by the 24th-place finish of Aaron Henley and 36th-place finish of Trever Scales, was seventh.
Mitchell's Daniel Sheehan and Lecanto's Bryan Holcomb, who reached state as an individual qualifiers, finished 27th and 28th, respectively.
Bollenback's time of 15 minutes, 55 seconds was his best this season and topped the 15:57 he ran at last year's state meet, when he took fifth.
"I felt like I ran good," Bollenback said.
Lyons, who finished in 15:59, and Miller, who finished in 16:03, also had solid efforts. Bryant finished in 16:28, a strong time, but one can only wonder how he might have run had he been at full strength.
"I think C.J.'s injury is what knocked us out of it," Bollenback said. "If he was healthy, I think he would have been up there with Rick."
Citrus knew going in that it needed its fifth, sixth or seventh runner to place in the top 50. That didn't happen as neither Justin MacDonald (70th), Irvin MacQuarrie (82nd) nor James Lopiccolo (101st) cracked the top 50 or bested the 17-minute mark. Had only the top four scores counted, Citrus would have won.
"The injury to C.J. cost us a few points," Nelson said. "We just needed to step up at the five spot. We did last week, and we didn't get it done this week."
It wasn't quality nor quantity that won it for Jesuit.
It was both.
The Tigers' top runner -- Colin Strickland -- finished 19th. They had four other runners in the top 30.
"(Citrus) concentrated on us, and we concentrated on them," Jesuit coach Mike Boza said. "If they would have been healthy, at their best, it would have been a different story today. They're a great team."
CLASS 3A: Ridgewood, the defending state champ, finished 14th. The Rams were led by senior Jim Vitale, who finished 11th in 15:49. Scott Habershaw of Land O'Lakes placed 16th.