Both Robinson and Fort Hunt will defend their respective girls and boys district cross country titles today in two Virginia AAA district meets at Burke Lake Park.
Robinson's boys edged Lake Braddock by two points last year. The Rams' Mark Lambert and West Springfield's Tom Coglitore are favored for the individual title. The Rams and the Spartans will race for the team title.
Robinson's Tama Clare and Lake Braddock's Kristi Cassell will compete for the girls individual honors, as their squads are favored for the team championship.
Craig Shenkenberg of Fort Hunt is favored to take the Gunston District meet, as is the Federals' boys team to repeat last year's defeat of Edison. Last year's district runnerup Terri Snell and teammate Sara Burke should help the Federals defend its girls team title.
Woodbridge, the reigning Virginia AAA cross country champion, should easily repeat as the Commonwealth district champion Saturday at Woodbridge. The individual title will be a closely contested race between North Stafford's Nicki Embry and the Wolverines' Doug Stanton and Andrew Hudson.
Another close race will be between Angie Cheek of Stonewall Jackson and Lisa Malloy of Woodbridge for the girls honors. But the Wolverines girls should retain their district team title.
If Virginia athletic coaches, many of whom have never been accused of ducking a tough question, start sounding especially wishy-washy in future postgame comments, the reason may be a proposed change in the Virginia High School League's sportsmanship rule.
At a meeting in Charlottesville last week, the VHSL's legislative council passed by "overwhelming majority" voice vote an admendment to the sportsmanship rule that would find a coach in violation if he or she "makes degrading or unprofessional remarks about another school's personnel or about league representatives in the public news media."
To back up the intent of the measure, which will be up for passage at the VHSL meeting in March, another amendment was approved giving a school the right to suspend a coach for up to a year if the adminstration feels any part of the sportsmanship rule is violated. Currently, schools can not suspend a coach for sportsmanship violations for more than a week.
The wording leaves a void as to just what a coach can say. Will it mean a coach cannot state that the opponent's defensive line is not good enough to stop his outstanding running back?
The legislative council killed a proposal which would have made it legal for high school coaches to hold practices with team members between June 10 and mid-August when school is out.
The current rule makes it illegal for coaches to work with team members formally when school is not in session (until preschool practice begins for fall sports).
In another move, the legislative council defeated a proposed change effecting tied soccer games. The current rule, which will remain, provides for two five-minute sudden death overtimes and then a series of penalty kicks to guarantee the game has a winner.
W.T. Woodson High School will hold a free youth league basketball clinic this Tuesday from 6-9:30 p.m.
Featured speakers will be DeMatha Coach Morgan Wootten, Joe Gallagher of St. Johns and Woodson's Red Jenkins. Lefty Driesell, basketball coach at Maryland, is also scheduled to speak.