Citrus coach Jonny Bishop believes in tough love.
Unsatisfied with his team's effort in early-season workouts, he held most of the Hurricanes' top lifters out of last month's Citrus/Sumter Invitational in Bushnell. Citrus placed fourth, well back of the leaders.
"I just felt like our performance in the weight room at practice wasn't what it should have been," Bishop said. "And every time you lift in a meet, you lose two days of practice.
"The day before a meet, you can't do very much, and the day of the meet all you're doing is maxing out. I just didn't feel like we had worked hard enough to lose two days of practice."
As the Citrus/Sumter Invitational was in progress, Bishop put the Hurricanes' top lifters through a grueling workout aimed at firing them up.
"That practice was pretty spirited," Bishop said. "It was a little more intense than what we had the previous couple of days, and I thought it was pretty effective."
Despite having a relatively young squad, Citrus is starting to look like it might contend for the county title next month.
The 'Canes finished second to state power South Sumter in last week's Citrus-Hernando-Sumter Meet. Plus, they have five lifters _ Rob Holdaway (129 pounds), Dan Marinelli (238), Mike Maxwell (238), Justin Taylor (219) and Nolan Williams (119) _ qualified for the Class A state event.
"You never like to finish second, but I was really pleased," Bishop said.
"If you take our totals from the tri-county meet and compare them to before I held the guys out, they've really skyrocketed since then. I can't be more pleased."
Holdaway, a sophomore and first-year lifter, has been Citrus' biggest surprise. Bishop literally snagged him out of the hallways and convinced him to join the team.
"He's a gem," Bishop said. "He wasn't sure of himself or whether he should participate, but he's been a fine addition to our program."
Bishop is impressed with the development of Marinelli and Maxwell, both juniors.
Maxwell has a season-best total of 610 pounds (350 bench, 260 clean and jerk), 30 pounds above the mark needed to qualify for state. Marinelli's top performance is 590.
Both athletes have shown dramatic improvement since the season began.
"Those guys have finally broken through the plateau," Bishop said. "Their totals are continually growing week in and week out."
WINNERS: Citrus' Maxwell, Lecanto's Terence Hollis (169), Phil Reed (199) and Joe Stasio (183) and Crystal River's Norman Hamner (129) had first-place finishes in last week's Citrus-Hernando-Sumter Meet.
_ KEITH NIEBUHR