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Panthers cautiously optimistic

After a seven-year reign as the county's top boys team, Citrus saw its run snapped last year by Lecanto.

Wednesday, the Panthers will try to start their own streak. Coach Bruce Sheffield is reserved, however, about the chances despite Lecanto's finish ahead of the Hurricanes on Saturday in the Lecanto Invitational.

"Looking back on it, this was our first race," Sheffield said. "I think some of them could have had a little bit of nervousness."

Performances by Nick Norton (14th overall, 17:50) and Dustin Elder (17th, 18:03) were solid, but cramping problems dropped Wayne Saxer to 71st (20:08). Sophomore David Rundio (42nd, 18:51) ran well, but some of the less-experienced Panthers were farther back.

Once the scores were tallied, however, Lecanto still was ahead of Citrus by a 202-227 margin.

"(Wednesday's) going to be a tough meet," Sheffield said. "Citrus is really improved. Joe Silvestro is probably running as well as he's ever run."

Silvestro finished tops among county runners, beating Norton with a 17:41 performance. Lecanto can live with that outcome again as long as Elder and Rundio or Saxer hang with the next few Hurricanes.

"My top three will have to match their top three," Sheffield said.

IMPROVING: Lecanto should win the girls race Wednesday with little problem, but Crystal River is showing signs of improvement beyond the usual strong effort from Holly Van Sicklen.

In the large field at Lecanto, Krystal Stants placed 37th (23:02), Danielle Dixon was 47th (23:45) and Lori Carter 75th (24:56).

"They were a little intimidated by the numbers here, but they did great," Crystal River coach Lisa Carter said. "They ran well, they ran well together."

_ JOHN SCHWARB, Times staff writer

CROSS COUNTRY AT A GLANCE

COUNTY MEET

TEAMS: Citrus, Crystal River, Lecanto, Seven Rivers.

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS: Lecanto boys and girls.

HONOR ROLL

GIRLS/TEAM TIME RACE/DATE

Taylor Cooke, Lecanto 19:51 Red Mule 5K, Aug. 28

Holly Van Sicklen, C. River 20:47 Lecanto Inv., Sept. 18

Tara Haddock, Lecanto 21:38 Red Mule 5K, Aug. 28

Kaela Fitzpatrick, Citrus 21:52 Lecanto Inv., Sept. 18

Amy Rundio, Lecanto 21:54 Red Mule 5K, Aug. 28

Kelly King, Citrus 21:55 Red Mule 5K, Aug. 28

BOYS/TEAM TIME RACE/DATE

Joe Silvestro, Citrus 17:03 Red Mule 5K, Aug. 28

Nick Norton, Lecanto 17:17 Red Mule 5K, Aug. 28

Dustin Elder, Lecanto 17:39 Red Mule 5K, Aug. 28

Kyle Helt, Citrus 17:43 Red Mule 5K, Aug. 28

Nic Farrington, Citrus 17:50 Red Mule 5K, Aug. 28

Wayne Saxer, Lecanto 17:53 Red Mule 5K, Aug. 28

_ JOHN SCHWARB, Times staff writer

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