Northern Virginia high school teams captured top honors in five sports as the fall season ended last weekend.
Two teams won state titles -- the Langley High School tennis team and the Fort Hunt girls' cross-country team. Three other teams captured the runners-up spot -- Langley, in field hockey; Washington-Lee, in boys' cross-country; West Springfield, in football.
The fall season officially ended last weekend with the state football finals in Fairfax. West Springfield lost the final post-season game 17-7 against Hampton. But the loss did not tarnish the strong showing Northern Virginia schools made this fall.
The following is a rundown of how the season went for the five Northern Virginia teams that placed among the top teams in the state. Girls' Tennis
For Langley High School, the 1980 season was practically an instant replay of 1979: a state championship in tennis and an impressive winning streak.
Last year, with the same coach, Martha Ball, and the same top seven players -- Missy Reed, Michele Nadanyi, Tracie Lanter, Val Cobb, Sherrie Chocola, Cristi Burgess and Paige Nichols -- the team also won the state title.
How do you improve on that?
Well, by never, or almost never, losing. This year, Langley players won an incredible 132 of 135 individual matches. Over the last two years, the team record has been just as strong, with no defeats in 30 straight matches.
Individual team members captured some titles of their own. Reed and Nadanyi won the state doubles title, and Reed took second place in the state in singles' play. Girls' Cross-Country
"Success breeds success," is how Fort Hunt cross-country coach Andy Tisinger explains the phenomenal consistency of his runners over the years. In girls' cross-country and track combined, Fort Hunt has captured 46 major titles in the past six years.
Fort Hunt added to that total this fall by winning its first state title in cross-country.
Since 1976, Fort Hunt has won the Northern Region cross-country title four times.Last year, they were runners-up in state competition. This season, in addition to winning the state and regional titles, the team won the Gunston District, the Handley Invitational and the William and Mary Invitational.
Senior Sue Miley won the individual state title in the girls' cross-country. Miley and teammate Chanley Bregman, also a senior, received high school All-America honors. Another teammate, sophomore Julia Reddick, "was a top ten finisher every time in major meets," according to coach Tisinger. "She's further along than anyone I've ever coached." Boys' Cross-Country
All season, sports observers had been saying that the Washington-Lee cross-country team lacked depth -- a fact Coach Barry Smith did not deny.
"But if our top five stay healthy," he said, "we have a shot at the state title."
They stayed healthy, and Washington-Lee came within five points of beating Monacan High School of Chesterfield in the state meet.
"We ran well as a pack all season," said Smith, whose team finished first in the Northern Region.
The "pack" consisted of seniors Nils Lindenblad, Chris Olson and Mike Ryan and juniors Maurice Ramirez and Chuck Anderson. Field Hockey
In a sport known for its low scores, the Langley field hockey team seemed out of place this year. The team racked up a total of 49 goals in 15 games, en route to a 12-2-1 record and second place in the state.
Traditionally, high school field hockey has not been a high-interest spectator sport. But 500 paying customers were on hand at Langley to see the state championship game between Langley and Albemarle.
Despite a fast attacking game, Langley and Albemarle were tied 1-1 after regulation play and overtime. Langley eventually lost in a tie-breaking shootout.
"I've had the same basic team since they were freshmen," said Coach Jean Johnson, who will have seven players returning next year. "We knew last year we would have a shot at the title this season. It was a disappointment not to win."
Langley, whose leading scorer was Chris Galiani with 15 goals, took Northern Region and Great Falls District honors this year. Football
Long-time observers of Northern Virginia high school football say they have never seen a team overcome as much adversity as West Springfield did this year.
The head coach, Jim Jensen, resigned late in the season after being suspended for planting a tape recorder in the locker room of a visiting team. Assistant coach Bill Handley took over as interim head coach.
Then West Springfield thought a loss to Oakton had its ruined chances of moving into regional competition. But the Oakton loss was turned into a West Springfield win when it was discovered that Oakton had used an ineligible player. So, West Springfield won the Northern District championship and advanced to regional competition.
The Spartans' pride, defensively and offensively, centered exclusively on running back Jack Brooks. It took them to their first regional football championship.
But in the state final last Saturday, a bigger, more versatile Hampton team ended West Springfield's hopes for the classic, storybook finish.
Still, the coaches couldn't have been prouder of the team -- for its grace and courage.