Northern Virginia has become a gold mine for high school cross country talent. In the 1982 state championships, four of the top five teams in both the girls and boys competition were from this area.
Last year Robinson won the boys championship, but only two varsity runners are returning. Woodbridge, led by senior John Stein's 10th-place finish, ran second to Robinson and is considered by many coaches to be this year's favorite in both the state and the Commonwealth District.
Based on his second-place finish in last year's state meet, James McCarter, a senior from Stonewall Jackson, will be among the top runners, along with Stein. During the spring, McCarter won the two-mile in the state meet.
Brad Johnston, a senior from T.C. Williams, placed 12th in the state meet, seventh in the regionals and second in his district and is expected to place high in the field. The two-time Alexandria city cross-country champion has run 9:28 for 3200 meters.
Annandale finished third in the state meet and returns five runners, including senior Cliff Holtz and junior Bill Hoatright. Holtz and Hoatright ran 14th and 20th, respectively, in the state meet.
Senior Bruce Barnhill of Falls Church placed 19th in the state meet and likely will be another of the top runners. Barnhill finished second in the Potomac District meet last fall.
Langley was third in the regionals and first in the Great Falls District meet a year ago. Mark Brzezinski, who was fifth in the state meet, is gone, but returning are juniors Ross Wehner, Steve DuPree and Doug Kossler.
Senior Chris Bryce of Lake Braddock placed fifth in the regionals, and though he did not score high in the state meet, he could be this year's surprise performer.
The top spots in the girls regional competition will be closely contested, unlike last year, when Lake Braddock's Andrea Volpe dominated.
Langley, which finished second in the state and first in the Northern Region and Great Falls District championships last year, will be the team to beat. It returns eight of its top nine runners, including Victoria Verinder and Jenny Montgomery.
Verinder, a senior, placed fourth in the state meet last year, fourth in the regional and first in the Great Falls District meet. She finished the season with a ninth-place finish at the Kinney Invitational Southeast Meet, a national high school championship.
Montgomery, a junior, finished 14th in the regional meet.
South Lakes returns five runners, including Tanya Welsh, a rapidly improving junior.
Welsh suffered a stress fracture last September but managed to compete in the final third of the season, placing 13th in the region. She was timed in 4:52 in the mile in the outdoor state meet, good for third.
In the Northern District, Kristi Cassell, a Lake Braddock junior who followed in Volpe's shadow all year, ran sixth in the state meet last year and third in the regionals. She ran 16th behind Verinder in the Kinney meet. In her final race of the 1982 outdoor track season, Cassell placed second to Volpe in the state 3,200-meter run.
Although only three varsity runners return, Robinson will remain competitive in the Northern Region and the Northern District. Last year the Rams placed fourth in the state, third in the region and first in the district.
Robinson's strength will be provided by junior Katie Columbell (seventh in the state and region), sophomore Candy Nolton (eighth in the state), senior Lori Berkey and Jenny Bacon, a senior transfer student from Hawaii with cross-country experience.
Kim Griffiths of Lee and Lynn McKee of Annandale also have potential to run with the leaders. Griffiths, a junior, was 16th in the state last year and second in the Gunston District meet.
McKee, a senior, placed second in the Potomac District championship and could be a pleasant surprise for Annandale.
In the Commonwealth District, the Woodbridge girls are favored to defend their district championship. Senior Peggy McCelvey of Gar-Field is favored to lead the district, finishing second in the district, beating everyone in the region, and finishing in the top 25 in the state a year ago.
Competition will come from Denise Griffis, a junior from North Stafford, who finished 38th in the state, sixth in the regionals, and fourth in the district.
In the Virginia AA Northwestern district, Handley is ready to regain the form it had in the late 70's when the team dominated state competition.
Last year, Strasburg won the state meet with 48 points. Stonewall Jackson finished secon.
Tim Haller, a senior from Strasburg, won the 1982 Virginia A state championship and is favored to retain his title.
The Virginia AA girls competition will be led by Loudoun Valley, placing third last year in the state. Clarke County and Stonewall Jackson will pace the Virginia A girls in the Bull Run District.