In so short a time, Eric Metcalf has jumped so far. Only three weeks into the indoor track season, he has set out to jump further than anyone ever has in high school indoor track.

Metcalf, a senior at O'Connell, leaped 24 feet 7 3/4 inches in his first meet of the season after earning all-Met honors as a football running back. His mark at the Episcopal Relays ties Anthony Carter of Mobile, Ala., (1971) and Warren Wilhoite of Winslow, Ariz., (1979) for the seventh-longest jump. The longest, 26-2, was by Jerry Proctor of Pasadena, Calif., in 1967. At this time last season, Metcalf did the 10th longest jump, 24-5 1/4.

Metcalf will be the individual to watch this season, but based on the Episcopal Relays, the Episcopal Invitational and the trials of the George Mason Invitational, the boys team with the greatest promise will be T.C. Williams High School.

Last year, the Titans' boys team won the Northern District meet and the Northern Region meet, then ran third in the Virginia AAA state meet behind Denbigh and E.C. Glass.

T.C. Williams' dominated the indoor season with depth in the sprints and the field events, winning an unprecedented third indoor regional title over Lake Braddock, 105-47 1/2. But many of the Titans' middle-distance runners and triple-jumpers have graduated. This year, Lake Braddock will share in the wealth with a balance of talent in nearly every event.

Competition between the two Northern District teams should be close, with Robinson following in third. The distance events will be the deciding factor because the Titans are weak in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. The Bruins, based on their fifth-place finish at the state cross country meet, have the edge in endurance, as well as an advantage in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays.

Individual standouts in the Northern region will be Bren Lowery of T.C. Williams and Jim Scott of Oakton in the dashes; T.C. Williams' Thomas Boggan and Lake Braddock's Mike Anthony in the middle-distances; and Harold Anderson of W.T. Woodson, Mark Lambert and Todd Coppedge of Robinson, and Rob Moye of Lake Braddock in the distances. Dave Dargoer of Oakton (high jump), Chris Coleman of Lake Braddock (long jump, 300) and Robert Pennyford of T.C. Williams (shot put) should excel in the field events.

South Lakes and Langley were third and fourth in the state in cross country, so both should be the best in the distances in the Great Falls District. South Lakes, the defending district champion, has Chris Conboy and Sandy Sanford in the distances against Steve Dupree of Langley. The most successful athletes in the district could be McLean's Keenan Hrieb, a long jumper surpassed in the area by nobody but Metcalf, and the Seahawks' Damon Moore, rapidly improving in the 300 meters. Tom Huminick of Herndon should be just as dominating in the high jump. Teammate Ian Smith could be state caliber in the long jump.

Another longtime district rivalry involves Fort Hunt and Mount Vernon in the Gunston District. The Majors' John Rymiszewski, defending district and region champion, controls the shot put, throwing a 53-7 1/2 last week to qualify easily for the finals of the George Mason meet Jan. 5. Ron Schaefer of Mount Vernon will handle the sprints and the long jump and may give the Majors an edge toward capturing the district title.

Junior Jeremy Worrell of Stuart is defending state champion in the triple jump, but he also competes in the high jump, long jump, sprints and hurdles. Worrell triple-jumped 47-9 at Mason last week, ahead of teammate Fred Carr. He also ran the 55-meter hurdles in 7.7 to qualify for the final with teammate Lyle Decker. But Worrell's effort could not make the Raiders competitive with Annandale last season.

The defending Potomac District champion Atoms, runners-up in the Virginia cross country meet, are strong in the distances with sophomore Jeff Pajak and senior Bill Boatright. Chantilly's John Lord (sprints) and Annandale's Chris Weppner (high jump) could be the boys to watch.

Gar-Field placed fourth in the state last year after winning the Commonwealth District meet, but without Patrick Mann, a freshman at Georgetown, the title could go to Woodbridge. Sophomore Andrew Hudson, Doug Stanton and Tom Johnson helped Woodbridge to the Virginia cross country title, and should ably handle the distances. The Vikings also should have support from David Mills, who threw the shot 50 feet at George Mason, and Chris Lockett, who pole-vaulted 13-6 at the meet.

In the AA Northwestern District, Irvin Grant of Warren County is a potential state champion in the pole vault. His 14-foot vault was the best in qualifying at George Mason.

The essence of dominance in track might best be observed in the girls team at Jefferson-Huguenot-Wythe. Fortunately for Northern Virginia athletes, they rarely compete against the school from Richmond, but, unfortunately, they will at the state meet. J-H-W won the meeting last year with 81 points. Langley's girls placed second with 50 points, 12 points ahead of third-place Lake Braddock.

Though J-H-W is expected to retain its state title, the competition for Northern Region honors is anything but settled. Langley, the state cross country champion, has scores of talented distance runners, but Lake Braddock has more depth everywhere else. The two girls to watch will be junior Cathron Birge of Lake Braddock, sophomore Erin Keogh of Langley and Carmen Mann of Falls Church.

Birge has started where she left off last year, qualifying easily for the 300 (40.4) and 500 (1:16.3) at Mason. She set the state meet record, 1:16.5, in the 500 last year. Keogh, coming off an undefeated cross country season, won the Episcopal mile in 5:06.5, and has the best qualifying time in the 3,200 (10:43) at Mason. Mann, defending state high jump champion, has a personal best of 5-8, also the state meet record. She has qualified for the Mason finals in the high jump (5-2) and long jump (18-1 3/4).

Christelle Williams of Lee is favored to win the long jump and the 55-meter hurdles in the Gunston District. Laverne Williams of Edison should be unbeatable in the dash, as should Jean Burris of Mount Vernon in the shot.

Langley should win another Great Falls District title on the strength of its middle-distance and distance contingent. Kathy Graves of South Lakes will also be competitive with Langley's Keogh, Jenny Montgomery and Jody Clarke in the distances. Michelle Hall of Madison should be the top shot putter in the district and Shannon Mansfield of South Lakes should perform well in the high jump.

Lake Braddock should win the Northern District meet and its fourth consecutive Northern Region title. T.C. Williams was third in the region, and will again battle Langley for the runner-up spot. The relays will be Lake Braddock's strength, with aid from Birge in the short distances and Dana Boone in the hurdles. In the middle distances, Robinson's Tracy Duke, winner in the Episcopal 1,000 meters, and Gena and Tama Clare should make the Rams competitive.

While Mann, a junior, should control the field events and sprints, Aimee Harms of Annandale should top all distance runners in the Potomac District. She finished a close second to Duke at Episcopal. The Atoms' depth should hold off Stuart, Chantilly and Falls Church for the team title.

Angie Cheek of Stonewall Jackson and Lisa Malloy of Woodbridge shadowed each other throughout the cross country season, and indoors should be no different. Cheek, however, has already qualified for the Mason finals in the 1,000 and 1,600. With Pam Moore in the short distances, the Vikings, who tied for eighth in the state last year, should edge the Cardinals, fourth in the state last year, in the district meet. Carie Arnold should help Stonewall in the long jump.