T.C. Williams' boys and Langley's girls track and field teams will defend their Virginia AAA Northern Region titles Saturday but they surely won't be favored.
The favorites in both the boys and girls meets will come from Lake Braddock. The Bruins scored relatively easy victories in the Northern District meet. Traditionally, the Northern District has been the strongest, and indications are Lake Braddock could finish within the top five in the boys and girls state meets.
T.C. Williams was clearly outdistanced in last week's Northern District championships as Lake Braddock ended the Titans' 10-year district meet winning streak, 174-115. On the girls side, the Saxons were edged by South Lakes, 85-80, in the Great Falls meet; and Lake Braddock and Robinson had phenomenal performances in the Northern District meet.
The outcome of the district meets sets the stage for the regional meet, to be held at George Mason University starting at 8:30 a.m.
Individuals from five Northern Virginia districts -- Northern, Gunston, Great Falls, Potomac and Commonwealth -- are eligible to compete if either they placed in the top six in the district meet or surpassed regional qualifying standards.
Usually it is T.C. Williams' depth which enables it to sweep into the postseason competition. Last year, the Titans cruised through the districts and regionals, then placed third in the state meet, 10 1/2 points behind Denbigh and nine behind E.C. Glass.
What a difference a year makes. This time, it was Lake Braddock which scored in 13 of 14 events, being shut out in only the high jump. The Bruins took the first four places in the long jump and 3,200-meter run, four of the top six in the 1,000 meters and three of six places in the 1,600 meters.
At the same time, Lake Braddock's girls were also scoring with regularity, easily defeating Robinson, 166-112. The next closest team was W.T. Woodson with 39 points. As expected, Cathron Birge contributed greatly to the Bruin victory, winning the 300 meters and 500 meters, finishing third in the long jump and anchoring the Bruins' victorious mile relay team. But two surprise performers for Lake Braddock were Dana Boone and April Hicks.
Boone tied district meet records in the 55-meter hurdles and 55-meter dash; she also won the long jump. Hicks won the high jump, placed second in the long jump and 300, third in the 500, and sixth in the hurdles.
Two others, Carmen Mann of Falls Church and Jeremy Worrell of Stuart, ran away with the individual honors in the Potomac District. Mann won five events, setting a district meet record in the long jump and 500, tying a record in the hurdles, as well as winning the high jump and 300.
Until this year, the district meets were held on two days, with the trials on the first day and the finals on the second day. Last week, each of four district meets -- Potomac, Great Falls, Gunston and Northern -- was run in a matter of a few hours, and the athletes had to run numerous trials in each event. Despite the grueling schedule, the meets produced 19 district records and tied 11 others. Also, it was good practice because the situation will be the same in the regional meet.
The spectators at the regional meet might see some athletes who didn't compete at the districts because they had already performed better than the regional standards. But the matchups between Birge and Mann will be exciting, depending on how many events each girl chooses to enter. Birge runs a faster 300, and Mann is better in the field events. But they are very competitive in the 500.
Close contests also are expected in the long jump. Worrell jumped 22 feet 5 inches in the districts, but Chris Coleman of Lake Braddock won his meet with a 22-3 3/4. Mann lept 18-4 1/2, but Christelle Williams of Lee posted an 18-5 1/2 effort.
The 55-meters could be a photo finish, with Ron Schaefer (6.3) of Mount Vernon and Bren Lowery (6.4) of T.C. Williams winning their respective district meets.
Tom Huminick (54-11) of Herndon and Jean Burris (37-11 3/4) of Mount Vernon are clear favorites in the boys and girls shot put and Lake Braddock's boys and girls 800- and 1,600-meter relays are favored.