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Crystal River star gets second wind

Crystal River's Holly Van Sicklen knew she had to turn it on near the end of the Class 2A, Region 2 cross country meet Saturday at Lecanto High School.

And turn it on she did.

Van Sicklen ran a time of 20 minutes, 38 seconds to place fourth, qualify for states and lead the Pirates to a third-place finish.

Van Sicklen and Lecanto's Deirdra Witherspoon, who was fifth with a time of 20:42, were the area's top finishers.

Witherspoon and teammate Taylor Cooke (12th) helped the Panthers finish second overall behind Orlando Bishop Moore. Lecanto ended with a team score of 76, and the Hornets ended with 55.

Van Sicklen, meanwhile, was one of five area runners along with Witherspoon, Cooke, Crystal River's Denise Jay and Citrus's Kaela Fitzpatrick to place in the top 15.

"This is my best race here," Van Sicklen said. "Me and Deirdra were very close until the last big hill and I was like, I got to keep going now.

"I was able to keep going. I didn't want this to be my last race. I wanted to keep going."

Witherspoon, meanwhile, wasn't able to make a comeback and overtake Van Sicklen for the area's top finish.

"The cool breeze was nice," Witherspoon said. "It was nice with the wind at your back.

"I started out in second place, but I slipped back to fifth. I got a little bit tired."

While Crystal River and Lecanto made it to states on the girls' side, Citrus missed out by one point. The Hurricanes were seventh overall behind St. Augustine Menendez.

On the boys' side, Lecanto placed third to qualify for the state meet in Tampa.

Sophomore Nick Norton was eighth overall with a time of 17:01, and teammate Dustin Elder was 10th.

"I'm going to state," Norton said. "This is all that I could ask for."

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