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Hollis approaching elite company

Published Aug. 31, 2005

Myesha Hollis is one in a long line of standout female track and field athletes at Citrus. And longtime coach Tom Darby has seen plenty, including the likes of Kissy Simmons. The multi-talented 1993 Citrus grad was a state champ in the high jump her junior year and continued her career at the University of South Florida. Hollis, a senior who excels at the long jump, triple jump, sprints and relays, could soon be mentioned in the same breath with other 'Cane greats.

"We've had some very good multiple-event athletes, and she's right up there in the top with them," Darby said.

Hollis has run the 100-yard dash in 12.8 seconds, her best long jump is 17 feet, 10 inches and best triple jump is 35-2{. She also helps on relays.

PRACTICE MAKES PONTIUS: Lecanto's Nikki Pontius is best known for her softball abilities, but the pitcher also excels in the shot put. The sophomore throws in the 28-foot range, and has drawn comparison to 2002 graduate Jill Bandhauer. Bandhauer, who was also a softball standout, holds the school record in the shot with a 35-7. Lecanto throwing coach Cory Collins said that kind of distance is in Pontius' reach.

""She has thrown over 30 several times in practice," Collins said. "(Pontius and Bandhauer) are a lot alike in terms of similar style of throwing the shot."

Pontius was an all-area honorable mention pick in softball last season, and practices with the track and field team when she can.

BEING THE BEST: Seven Rivers Christian's Taylor Cooke ran her fastest time ever in the 3,200 when she posted a 12:05.19 at the eight-team West Port meet March 6. The eighth-grader also ran her best time of the year in the mile with a 5:39.71. Both are area bests.

"She has so much drive now it's just unbelievable," said Warriors coach Scott Lyons.

Cooke competes in several outside events, including the Disney Showcase in Orlando on March 22. Lyons said she is trying to get under the 12-minute mark in the 3,200.

CITRUS RIPENING: Look for junior Israel Burton to be racking up points in the hurdles for the 'Canes boys squad. Burton has run a 15.51 in the 110 and a 42.43 in the 300.

"He's a hard worker and that's basically it," Darby said. "He works hard on conditioning and technique work and those are the reasons he's advancing. He's stepping up to be a leader on the team and leads more by demonstration."

Darby said his distance runners got off to a slow start because of illness and injury, but are ready to go.

LECANTO LOSES, GAINS: The good news for the Panthers is that freshman Nick Norton, who missed a week and a half with a heel injury, returned Monday. But the bad news is that Leo Solano broke his wrist when he fell in the 100, and is likely out for the season.

"That was a tough loss to our team because he was one of those up-and-coming freshmen," said Lecanto coach Dan Epstein.

Luckily for the Panthers, they more than doubled their numbers from last year with 47 seniors. Senior Trey Bruner jumped a season-best 6-2 in the high jump at March 7's meet at Gulf. Phil Reed, expected to break the school record of 133 in the discus this season, has already gone over 120.

SEVEN RIVERS RUNNING: At March 6's West Port meet, Chris Roth ran his fastest time (11.12) in the 100. Roth hadn't done any running after having his first meet back after having dental surgery. Teammate Damian Lyons ran his fastest time with a 1:08.23 in the 800.