Dunbar's girls cross country team is an overwhelming favorite to win the Interhight title this fall.

Spingarn, with five seniors and one junior returning from last year's squad, gets the nod over H.D. Woodson as the boys preseason favorite returns five seniors and one junior from last year's squad.

At Dunbar, new Coach Fletcher Tinsley has all of last year's girls squad returning, including Jackie McCalop, who was named the Interhigh's most valuable runner.

Tinsley, a former assistant at Ballou who took over for retired Coach James O'Neil, also has Leslie Cooney, Tammy Humbles and Tina Johnson returning. All three finished in the top10 last year. Dunbar also inherits two top junior high school prospects -- Darlene Stackhouse and Renee Johnson.

One thing that might hurt Dunbar is a year-long layoff from competitive running. The Crimson Tide didn't participate in indoor and outdoor track last year.

"It gave them a chance to rest, but they will not be in top form the first couple of meets," Tinsley said. "But they will have the same hard work as they did last year."

Tinsley feels the four veterans should again finish in the top 10 in the Interhigh championships Nov. 6.

Ballou's Doris Grooms should be McCalop's biggest challenger for individual honors.

Anacostia should be Dunbar's biggest challenger. Coach Pat Briscoe has seven veterans from last year's third-place squad, including all-Interhigh performer Cynthia Battle, sisters Lorraine and Nadean McCall, Tammy Butler, LaQuitta Mathis, Cheryl Jones and Damita Warren. Ballou girls did not run cross country last year, taking the time to work more on academics.

"This is an inexperienced team except for Doris (Grooms)," said Ballou Coach Phil Faxio. "I guess we have an outside chance. Doris will do well, but basically this is a tuneup for the indoor season."

Faxio's returning runners include Norma Graham, Anette Hannon, Linda Johnson, Charlene Taylor and Maria Small.

Coolidge Coach Adrian Dixon will have Rhonda Doy, Rhonda Majors and Tina Wright returning, but he is unsure if he can find more girls to fill out the squad.

In the boys competition, Spingarn Coach Hubert Gates, who will retire after this year's season, will rely on seniors Dennis Bell, Carlos Gill, Renard Lumpkin, Dennis Montgomery and Eric Roane and junior Darnell Bell.

"I think we will be in the top three," said Gates.

"Spingarn will be very strong this year," said Woodson Coach Lionell Russell.

Defending champion Woodson will depend on Lushia Taliaferro, preseason favorite for individual honors.

Taliaferro was the most valuable boys runner a year ago and won the 1,600- and 3,200-meter outdoor events. This summer, he set a meet record in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs at the national Youth Games.

"I am shooting for all-America," Taliaferro said. "I am trying to work on my arms a little bit during practice."

Woodson will also rely on Kevin Wyley and Reginald Allen.

Wilson will have a small squad this season. Coach Ronald Jenkins has five runners returning -- Peter Higgins, Adrian Miller, Edssell Obregon, Herman Ricks and James Young.

"Adrian should be amongst the top runners right up there with Lushia. I am gearing him to run with Lushia," Jenkins said.

Cardozo, Eastern, McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt are in the process of putting teams together and should run before the season ends.