If the first two meets are an indication of what's ahead for girls cross country teams in the Interhigh League, championship honors will be hard to predict. But Ballou's Doris Grooms is clearly the early individual star.
In the H.D. Woodson Invitational at Kenilworth Park on Sept. 25, she won the individual title but Coolidge won the team title.
Dunbar, the preseason favorite, had only four runners, not enough to qualify for the team title, and the Crimson Tides' Jackie McCalop finished 12th in 21:31. Last year, she was the Interhigh's most valuable runner and went unbeaten. Dunbar's Tammy Humbles, another top 10 finisher last year, finished 18th in 23:06.
Woodson won last week's Ballou meet with 41 points, Grooms again taking individual honors. Dunbar did not compete.
"We came in (the Ballou meet) with a positive attitude," said Woodson's Monique Blazio, a consistent top-10 runner. She finished eighth for Woodson (19:33) and Antoinette Gillis ran the best meet of her high school career, finishing fifth in 19:01 over the 2.1 mile course.
Newcomers Anita Brozell finished seventh (19:29) and Monique Edmonds 11th (20:03).
"We should be strong and have more people for the championships," said Blazio.
Coolidge came in second with 55 points and Anacostia third with 68.
The Colts have succeeded with sophomores, including Michelle Johnson (fourth in 18:28), Kito Jones (sixth in 19:24) and Lisa Lucas (ninth in 19:58).
Anacostia's Cynthia Battle has finished second in both early races. Grooms needed a 17:49 to beat Battle's 17:51 in the Ballou meet.
"I could have done better," said Grooms. "I am looking for a lower 17 (minutes)."
"I was running with her the whole race," said Battle. "She beat me in by sprinting."
At the Spingarn Invitational at Fort Dupont Saturday,Eastern of Newark, N.J.won the Class I division with 23 points. Georgetown Visitation finished second. Yorktown won the Class II race with 32 points. Lake Forrest was second with 50 and Coolidge a distant third with 72.
The top Interhigh finisher was Battle (16:25). Grooms didn't run.
Meanwhile, H.D. Woodson has dominated the boys competition with preseason-favorite Spingarn spending the early weeks competing against New Jersey and Maryland schools.
The Green Wave goes to New Jersey each year for tough matches against good competition. The local runners lost only one dual meet on the recent trip (to Eastside, the Newark city champion) and are the only Interhigh school to have competed in the Pallotti Invitational.
Spingarn should have the Interhigh's two fastest runners in brothers Darnell and Dennis Bell, who are around the 16:25 mark for 3.1 miles. And Carlos Gill is running around 17 minutes.
H.D. Woodson won the first two meets without Lushia Taliaferro, who had grade problems.
"I'm going to run in the Spingarn Invitational," Taliaferro said.
"We have to work a little harder to win the championship," said Kevin Wiley, who finished third (18:17) at Ballou. Warriors teammate Stacey Smith won the meet (18:05) held at Fort Dupont Park and Adrian Miller of Wilson was second (18:14).
At the H.D. Woodson meet held at Kenilworth Park, the Warriors won the team title with Wilson's Miller taking individual honors at 18:25. Smith was second, three seconds back.
At the Spingarn meet, Eastside of Newark, N.J., outdistanced the field in the Class I race. The visitors easily won the boys division with 22 points, with Gonzaga at 54.
Spingarn edged Bullis, 54-55, to win the Class II division. Each school placed five runners in the top 20 with Darnell Bell (17:31) the top finisher (fifth) for the Green Wave.