For years, cross country in the Interstate Athletic Conference has been synonymous with three teams, Georgetown Prep, St. Albans, and Landon. The status quo remains unchanged in 1983. Mike Horsey at Prep, Drew Wynn at Landon and Skip Grant at St.Albans once again have the teams to beat.
Meanwhile, in the Metro Conference, four-year runner-up Good Counsel hopes to overtake perennial champion O'Connell.
A year ago, Prep's Horsey expected "one of the finest (seasons) in years" with 13 returning lettermen. The majority of them, however, were underclassmen lacking any real experience. The Little Hoyas turned in a respectable season, winning their own invitational and finishing second in the IAC championships.
This season, a year's worth of experience and the league's top competitor in senior Walsh McGuire makes last year look like a warm-up.
"I think they're going to be really good this year," he said. "Last week's workouts were a good deal faster than last year and our top three are better then the top three last year."
McGuire, runner-up to St. Albans' Eric Vandendries at the IAC championships last year, is backed by junior John Caldwell, seniors Ed Keenan and Kelly Stewart, and sophomores Larry Elliot and John McGuire. In addition, Prep will be tapping the talents of the Montgomery County junior high champion Glen Oseneek.
St. Albans lost the services of last year's IAC champion and the area's finest runner, Vandendries, to graduation. Coach Skip Grant is hoping Duncan Schloss, third man on the squad last year and fourth-place finisher at the IAC's, can move up and stay with the league's front-runners. Although they may not be capable of tallying the low of 20 points (a 1-3-4-5-7 order of finish), they scored last year at the IAC's, this year's St. Albans runners are favored to capture their fifth conference title in a row.
Landon assistant coach Chris Elliot says the team this year is good but not great. Seniors Tom Wallis and Tim Arrowsmith help a young contingent, including sophomore Rob Bedell and juniors Mike Michener and Peter Weilenmann.
"If things go together, conceivably we could win, but it will be a struggle," said Elliot. "St. Albans is strong, but not as strong as in the past, Prep's Walsh McGuire is the top runner in the league and Episcopal is very strong with more depth."
Despite the fact that Episcopal has also graduated its top point-scorer, fourth-year Coach Buz Male is aiming for the IAC title. And his hopes rest on seniors John Cobb and John Barrett, who top a list of experienced seniors.
"I don't know if we'll have the penetration at big meets we had last year, but hopefully we'll have these two alternating up there, whereas last year we only had one," said Male. "Our strength is our veteran team."
In the Metro Conference, Good Counsel Coach Kevin Nolan is looking to win, but "I won't be too optimistic, but we only lost one senior varsity runner and the JV Catholic champion is moving up. O'Connell is always good, it'll come down to us and them."
Returning for Good Counsel is its No. 1 man from last year, senior Matt Madden. He is backed by classmates Paul Graham and Brendan Gordon as well as juniors Eric Sierka, John Scarry and Bill Ott, the JV champion.