Two sophomores, Dunbar's Jackie McCalop and H.D. Woodson's Lushia Taliaferro, finished excellent cross country seasons by leading their teams to the Interhigh championships recently at Fort Dupont Park.
Dunbar took five out of 10 places to win the girls title with 23 points. H.D. Woodson easily won the boys competition with 42 points.
H.D. Woodson came in second in the girls division with 52 points and Wilson was third with 74 points. Anacostia and Spingarn were the other participants.
Among the boys, Coolidge was a surprising second with 72 points and Ballou finished third with 76. Eastern, McKinley, Spingarn and Wilson were the other competing teams.
McCalop was sensational all season. She was undefeated and won each race going away. Her winning effort in the championships (2.1 miles in 16 minutes 39 seconds) was her fifth straight victory.
"I feel great about it, but I can improve," said McCalop. "I can do better. I wanted to keep my rhythm up. This one was the hardest because it was the championship and I had a lot of pressure on me," she said.
Wilson's Molly Carr ran her best race of the season, finishing second to McCalop in 16:54.
"I'm glad," said Carr. "I had Jackie in front of me. I don't sprint very well. I can't go out fast and I don't come in fast. I had to pick up the pace."
McCalop's teammates -- Tina Johnson (17:09) and Tammy Humbles (17:19) -- came in third and fourth, respectively. Lisa Milner had a slight lead on McCalop after the second turn, but McCalop pulled away after that.
"After getting to the first hill, everything hits me. I just get tired and can't keep up with her. She gets too far ahead and I can't catch her," said Milner.
Milner came in fifth (17:21) to lead Woodson. Monique Goode (18:09) and Karen Frazier (18:18) were ninth and 10th for Woodson. Monique Blazio, usually a top five finisher, had a bad cold and finished 20th (19:52). Cynthia Battle finished sixth (17:31) for Anacostia.
Taliaferro lost his first race of the year two weeks, but didn't lose again, winning three straight races to finish the season. He was timed in 17:46 for 3.1 miles in taking the Interhigh championship ahead of Ballou's John Branch (18:06). Taliaferro's teammate, Ed Gause, came in third (18:30). Coolidge's Maurice Miller was fourth (18:32).
"I was thinking about staying relaxed. I wanted to stay in the top two and then break with 800 yards to go. I started feeling good after the last mile," said Taliaferro, who is the national Youth Games champion for 800 meters.
Branch was a surprising second. "I never ran cross country before (this season) and I greatly improved," said Branch. "The first race, I ran 20:10 and then in the second race dropped to 18:58. I ran a lot of the race (championship) with a sprained ankle."
Adrian Miller and Holmes Graybeal were the top finishers for a much-improved Wilson boys team. Miller, who finished eighth, and Graybeal, who was ninth, had the same time (18:43). Darnell Bell, running in his second Interhigh meet, came in fifth (18:33) for Spingarn.