Coolidge's Charles Randolph and Janine Cumberlander are preseason favorites to win individual titles as Interhigh cross country this fall will include two more schools, Ballou and Roosevelt.
Any of five teams could win the team title in what appears to be the strongest boys competition in recent years. Spingarn, Wilson and H.D. Woodson also have veteran boys teams returning.
"The city championship is wide open," said Hubert Gates, Spingarn coach. If you have to pick a preseason favorite it may be H.D. Woodson, because four of its returning runners finished in the top 10 in the Interhigh championships.
While the boys' competition will be the strongest in recent years, the girls competition could be the weakest. "Most of us were hit hard by graduation," said Coach Adrian Dixon of Coolidge. Ballou is the preseason favorite.
Randolph is favored to win individual boys honors over H.D. Woodson's Nathaniel Strickland. Randolph took the boys' West title last year (17:59) and finished third in the Interhigh championships; Strickland finished second and seventh respectively. Strickland's teammates, Ed Gause and Sancio Shellman, will contend.
Cumberlander is favored to capture girls laurels with Dunbar's Endora Adams, who was the top Interhigh runner last year, but quit running competitively after last year's cross country season. Cumberlander's teammate, Kathy Brown, will also compete.
"We should be awesome," said Coolidge Coach Perry Hairston about his boys squad. "We have more potential. It depends on who shows up and who comes to practice."
Hairston has veterans William Thompson, whom he calls a "strong performer with a lot of potential" and Randolph, "a natural cross country runner." He will receive additional help from Curt Matthis, Bernard White and Joseph Fitch.
The Coolidge girls will be going through a rebuiilding campaign, according to Coach Dixon. "It's always hard to replace girls of quality caliber."
A lot will depend on Cumberlander, who will be joined by Yolanda Turner and 10th-graders from Rabaut Junior High.
At Ballou, "We have nine returning track lettermen that have cross country experience," said Carl Keels about his boys team. He will depend on Conrad Bovil, Emerson Michel, Barrington Nash, Richard Powell, Carlton Tucker and Mike Williamson. Nash was Keels' best cross country runner last year.
"If they work hard every day, we can win a championship," Keels said. He added,"I think we are the dark horse (of the Interhigh)."
"We should have a pretty strong team this year," said Phillip Faxio, Ballou girls coach. "We have the talent . . . it depends on how much the kids want it." Faxio will have Parrie Evert, Clairessa Washington and Interhigh sprint champion Lynda Tolbert returning this year, plus newcomer Doris Grooms.
Cardozo over the years has been relatively weak in cross country. This year will be no exception. The Clerks participated in only a few meets last year and had only one runner, Kevin Ford, in the top 10; he finished sixth in the Interhigh championships and fourth in the East/West meet.
Dunbar has several good runners available. Avron Harold and Phillip Small are returning, along with girls Nicky Inyang, Celethia Barry, Elaine Thomas and Adams.
Former Howard University standout Ed Simms will coach Roosevelt, which will run competitively for the first time in three years.
Spingarn has five veteran returning, plus some top junior high school runners. The Green Wave will have veteran Kevin Quattlebaum, Lewis Layne, Andre Price, Robert Johnson, Ronnie Scott, Timothy Chapman and his brother Patrick returning.
Spingarn has only two veteran girl runners, Reginia Hill and Shelia Pender, returning.
Spingarn will take to the road to gain experience before the Interhigh championships. This year, the Green Wave will run in Richmond, Harrisburg, Pa., and Newark, N.J. "This is a way I get my young team ready," said Coach Gates.
"I have one of the strongest teams in the Interhigh," said Wilson's Ron Jenkins. He has six veterans returning this year, including James Crank and Charlie Swann. Crank has been running all summer and Swann is coming off an impressive junior year.
Also returning are Tim Abele, John Williams, Holmes Graybeal, Conrad Smith, Robert Pruitt, Steve Lockamy and newcomer Matthew Whitaker. Wilson's top girl performer is Katherine Greidier.
H.D. Woodson has an entire veteran boys squad back, a unit that won both the Interhigh and East titles. Returnees include Adam Hansford, Lloyd Fennel, Tim Moore, Gause, Strickland and Shellman.