COACH: Tom Darby, 37th season
DISTRICT: Class 2A, District 6
KEY RETURNEES: Sean Radziercz, Jr., sprint, long jump; Dane Moore, Sr., sprint, relay; Bryan Tobin; Jr., hurdles, relay, triple jump; David Waters, So., hurdles, sprint, relay; Josh Hooker, Sr., pole vault.
KEY NEWCOMERS: David Greene, Fr., high jump, long jump, hurdles; Antoin Scriven, Fr., sprint, high jump, relay; Bodee Wright, Jr., pole vault.
KEY LOSSES: Daniel Dorn, graduated, relay; D.J. Carella, graduated, relay; Matt Steelfox, graduated, relay; Dylan McManama, graduated, relay.
SKINNY: The Hurricanes return to Class 2A after spending the past two seasons in 3A. That might make it easier for Citrus athletes to advance to the state finals, but Darby said it's too early to think about who might have a strong season. He wants to see his athletes perform before setting expectations. Still, Darby expects Moore to lead the squad and gushes about Scriven's athletic talent. He said the team's strongest events will be hurdles and sprints.
COACH: Tim Byrne, 5th season
KEY RETURNEES: Kevin Spivey, Jr., pole vault, hurdles; Torrion Smith, So., triple jump; Brennan McNally, Jr., distance running; Joe Greer, Jr., distance running; John Martinuzzi, Jr.; distance running; Roger Jones, Sr., relay
KEY LOSS: Brett Miller, pole vault, graduated
KEY NEWCOMER: Daniel Beatty, Fr, relay, sprint.
SKINNY: The Pirates lost Class 2A pole vault champion Brett Miller but still likely will compete for the district title, which they won a year ago. Track is a team sport, but Byrne said he expects his squad will be evaluated based on how many athletes advance to state. They had six last season; now Byrne wants more. It doesn't help that junior Patrick Edwards, a member of last season's 4x400 relay team is battling knee problems, but the Pirates likely have enough depth. "We still have some good kids," said Byrne, last season's Times Citrus and Hernando Coach of the Year.
COACH: Dan Epstein, sixth season
KEY RETURNEES: Nick Norton, Sr., distance running; Dustin Elder, Sr., distance running; Richard Chaney, Sr., high jump, hurdles, relay
KEY NEWCOMERS: None
KEY LOSSES: Wayne Saxer, graduated, relay.
SKINNY: Epstein had about 55 athletes come out for track, making his squad the largest in Citrus County. But the Panthers also compete in a larger state class, so it won't be easy for athletes to advance to the state meet. Epstein said his team, which finished fourth last season, hopes to win the district championship. Though he has some talented athletes, Epstein said he is just as happy with the competitors who likely will never score a point in a meet. "I'm not just looking for super athletes," he said.
SEVEN RIVERS CHRISTIAN
COACH: Ken Nash, first season
KEY RETURNEES: None
KEY NEWCOMERS: Craig Bellamy, Sr., high jump; Caleb Nelson, Fr., distance running; Kim Pesher, Jr., long jump, relay, sprint.
KEY LOSSES: Wes Tubman, graduated, sprint
SKINNY: Nash, who took over after two seasons as an assistant, could face a tough season. He has only 10 athletes and a schedule that pits his team against many Class 3A and 4A squads. Still, he hopes to build character and work ethic. Though track is usually considered an individual sport, Nash said he intends to use his relays as team-building enterprises. He is most excited by Bellamy, who transferred from Citrus this year, but has been nursing a sore left ankle. Nash said if Bellamy is healthy, he will have a strong season.
- BRIAN SUMERS, Times staff writer