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Citrus girls, Lecanto boys win

The Citrus girls' cross-country team gained a measure of revenge for last year's first-ever defeat at the hands of Lecanto by edging the Panthers 26-31 in Tuesday's Citrus County Championship meet.

Lecanto placed eight runners in the top nine to easily win the boys' meet, 16-52 over Citrus. Crystal River finished a distant third in both races.

The Panther boys were paced by sophomore Dereck Ellis, who ran the 3-mile Whispering Pines Park course in 16 minutes, 6 seconds, only a second off his season's best time.

Teammates Keith Gordon (16:19), Adam Spate (16:44) and Gary Plutta (17:02) followed Ellis across the stripe. Citrus' Ian Feldt (17:04) came in on Plutta's heels and prevented a Lecanto clean sweep.

The Panthers' times were markedly better than those posted over the weekend at the University of Florida over a wet course.

"There's no comparison between the courses," said Lecanto boys' coach Tim Byrne. "We ran 17s there and dropped down to 16s here."

Byrne also said Spate and Plutta especially made progress and keyed the Panthers' win.

In the girls' meet, Julie Lazlo of Lecanto won the 2-mile run in 12:35, while teammate Vickie Peterson (13:08) finished third. But it was Christina Scharf of Citrus who, by finishing second in 12:38, helped the Hurricanes take take the county title back from Lecanto.

"Lecanto has an outstanding top three," Citrus coach Bob Goddard said. "We had to break them up. For a couple of (our) girls, it was their day."

Not only did Scharf do the job, but Elisa Ginabreda (4th place, 13:22) and Shannon Weaver (5th, 13:23) also came in before Lecanto's third runner, Sreedavi Challa (6th, 13:26).

Challa's sister, senior volleyball player Lakshmi Challa, filled in at the No. 5 spot so Lecanto could compile a team score; she ran 11th in a time of 14:18.