After a brief hiatus last year, when Episcopal's cross country team lost to St. Albans in the Interstate Athletic Conference championships and Bishop O'Connell was beaten by Good Counsel in the Metro Conference, it appears the boys teams at both schools are prepared to reestablish their superiority this fall.
The girls cross country teams are slim in the prep ranks. But keep an eye on freshman Wanda Bell at Georgetown Visitation. She recently finished second at the Handley Invitational.
"Our goal this year is to have the best cross country team Episcopal ever had," said Coach Buz Male. "Instead of pointing toward any particular goal, we're raising their sights and expectations."
Leading Episcopal to second place at the Wake Forest University Invitational was senior Richard Beaver. He finished second behind Woodbridge's Andrew Hudson, as he did at the Handley two weeks before. It appears that they will continue to compete throughout the season for area bragging rights.
Behind Beaver are seniors Jay Gump, Todd Henrich, Steve Cook, David Opie; juniors Raymond McLees and Patrick Archie; and newcomer Gus Allen, a senior.
Beaver finished third in the championships last year to St. Albans' Duncan Schloss and Georgetown Prep's John Caldwell, both of whom have graduated. Within the IAC, he has a fairly clear path to the individual title this year.
Ron Hershner, O'Connell's third-year coach, is just as optimistic about his team. Leading the Knights are senior Pat DeWine and junior Matt Callahan. Four others from last year's top eight are back: seniors Steve Donovan, Martin Gallivan and juniors Dennis Callahan and Pat Guinn. Newcomers include senior Emil Plunkett and junior Jason Hancock.
Looking to improve is Gonzaga, which is returning most of last year's squad. Junior Joe House and senior Anthony Snead are back. Last year they finished a surprising fourth at the Woodward Relays. After them are seniors Brian Egan, Will Moschella, Tom Lundregan, and sophomores Tim Fitzmaurice and William Buchanan.
Individually in the IAC, Georgetown Prep senior Larry Elliott and Sidwell Friends junior Bob Lesko are preparing to race each other throughout the season. Last week at a tri meet at Bullis, Elliott beat Lesko. Lesko finished third in the outdoor 5,000 meters last spring and is running his second year of cross country.
Lesko leads sophomores Matt Bates and Hugh Wooden, who help give Coach Chris Frankel the "strongest team we've ever had."
Last year's league champions, Good Counsel and St. Albans, are rebuilding. For the Falcons, seniors Jonathan Reed, Jay O'Connell and sophomore Kevin Sierka return.
Senior Sandy Cash and junior Matt Dunbar are the only varsity returnees to St. Albans this year.
At DeMatha, Coach Rich Maloney has spent three years building a program and he's close to succeeding. Returning are seniors Greg Baron, Tim McCleary and Clint Bucco; juniors J.F. Parsons and Bob Burgee; and sophomores Brian Riva, Curt Wise, team-leader Tom James and Mike Coleman.