The Naval Academy, whose 33 athletic teams posted a combined .680 overall winning percentage, had the most successful athletic program in the area for the 1985-86 sports season, according to a survey conducted by The Washington Post.
Each school was asked to provide the final season records for every varsity team, in men's and women's sports.
The 1985-86 athletic season brought NCAA national championships to both the Maryland women's lacrosse and George Mason women's soccer teams. American and Virginia's men's teams advanced to the NCAA finals in soccer and lacrosse, respectively, only to fall one victory short of a title.
Area schools also were able to showcase some of the finest athletes in the country. Maryland basketball player Len Bias, who died of cocaine-induced cardiac arrest on June 19, was a unanimous first team all-America who averaged 23.2 points per game and was the second pick overall in the NBA draft by the Boston Celtics.
Virginia offensive tackle Jim Dombrowski won unanimous all-America honors and was a first-round NFL draft choice by the New Orleans Saints. American University striker Michael Brady was named the NCAA Soccer Player of the Year. George Washington University pitcher Gregg Ritchie and second baseman Kevin Fitzgerald were both drafted and signed by the San Francisco Giants, and Howard outfielder Glen Abraham was drafted by the Texas Rangers. In lacrosse, Virginia attacker Roddy Marino, goaltender Peter Sheehan and Maryland midfielder Tom Worstell were first team all-America selections.
In women's sports, first team all-Americas included Pam Baughman and Lisa Gmitter of George Mason in soccer, and Laura Beal, Tracy Stump and Amy Siafedec of Maryland in lacrosse.
Although several area schools had outstanding athletic years, Navy was the most consistent. American, George Mason, Howard, Maryland and Virginia all won at least one conference championship; Navy won three. Navy's 30-5 basketball team, led by junior center David Robinson and senior forward Vernon Butler, won the Colonial Athletic Association tournament and advanced to the round of eight in the NCAA tournament before losing to Duke. Robinson, a 6-11 all-America who led the NCAA in rebounds and blocked shots, will return next year, ensuring the Midshipmen of another competitive season.
Navy's baseball team finished 30-10 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament before losing to Georgia Tech. The cross country team finished 11-0 and won the CAA conference championship.
In women's sports, the volleyball team finished 37-11 and the indoor track team was 14-1 in dual meets.
Navy's athletic success is made more significant by the fact that an Annapolis education carries with it a five-year military commitment as well as a rigorous academic curriculum, two factors that discourage many top high school athletes from attending Navy.
"I think we had about as much success as we could have hoped for last year," said Athletic Director J.O. (Bo) Coppedge. "Obviously, David Robinson and Napoleon McCallum were excellent athletes -- as good as we've ever had, but like all our athletes, they are students first."
It was also a banner year at George Mason. The women's soccer team capped an outstanding 18-2-1 year by defeating North Carolina, 2-0, to win the NCAA national championship. The men's soccer team also was formidable, reaching the second round of the NCAAs before ending an 18-4 season with a loss to American. Another bright spot was the 27-5 men's volleyball team.
The basketball team concluded its inaugural season in the Patriot Center with a 20-12 record. That was good enough to earn the school a bid to the National Invitational Tournament, its first postseason appearance. The Patriots defeated Lamar, 65-63, in the first round before losing to Providence in the second round.
In College Park, the Maryland lacrosse teams enjoyed exceptional seasons. The women captured the NCAA title by defeating Penn State in the NCAA final, 11-10; the men advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion North Carolina.
The football team also had another fine year. The Atlantic Coast Conference champions concluded an 8-3 season with a 35-18 victory over Syracuse in the Cherry Bowl.
After a poor start, the basketball team rallied to finish 19-14, and earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. The Terrapins defeated Pepperdine in the first round before losing to Nevada-Las Vegas in the second round.
At Virginia, Athletic Director Dick Schultz said he was pleased with the progress of his athletic program. "I think what we have now is something we have been working toward for a while, and that's respectability in all of our sports. We feel if we are competitive in the Atlantic Coast Conference, we can be successful against any schools."
The perennially powerful men's lacrosse team advanced to the NCAA tournament final. In the championship game, the second-ranked Cavaliers suffered a frustrating 10-9 overtime loss to ACC arch-rival North Carolina, concluding a 12-3 year. Marino, Sheehan, Scott Lind, Rich Reda and Jeff Nicklas were named to the all-ACC first team.
Virginia's basketball team finished 19-11 and received an NCAA bid. The Cavaliers were eliminated in the first round by De Paul.
At Georgetown, where Athletic Director Frank Rienzo pointed to "a general increase in the level of play" of all the school's teams, the basketball team concluded its first season in the post-Pat Ewing era with a 24-8 record and a third-place finish in the Big East. Forward Reggie Williams was a first-team all-Big East selection. David Wingate was named to the second team and drafted in the second round by the Philadelphia 76ers. Guard Michael Jackson was drafted in the second round by the New York Knicks, where he hopes to rejoin Ewing.
The men's crew team once again was one of the finest in the area, winning 11 of 16 races at the Cadle Cup regatta. At the Dad Vail Regatta, both the men's novice eight and men's novice lightweight eight won gold medals.
Sports fans at American are still talking about the Cinderella season of the soccer team.
American received an NCAA tournament bid, then surprised nearly everyone by advancing to the title game. In that contest, one of the most intense in NCAA history, the Eagles lost a 1-0 victory to UCLA in eight overtimes. Peter Mehlert was named NCAA Coach of the Year.
At George Washington, Athletic Director Steve Bilsky said he was pleased with the development of the school's athletic programs. "We are putting more money into our non-revenue sports, and the results have been very encouraging," said Bilsky. An example was the baseball team, which finished the season 28-13-1, including a 12-game winning streak.
At Howard, both the baseball and women's volleyball teams claimed Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles. The school's basketball programs also continued to improve. The men were 19-10, just missing a bid to the NCAA tournament with a last-second loss to North Carolina A&T. The 18-11 women's team fell one basket short of repeating as MEAC champions, falling to South Carolina State, 59-57, in the title game.
Howard may also say goodbye to the school's "dust bowl." The newly renovated football stadium, complete with artificial surface and all-weather track, may be ready for the start of the fall sports season.
Despite having its athletic program sliced by $150,000 because of federal budget cuts, University of the District of Columbia athletic director Willis Thomas is quick to point out that "athletics at UDC are alive and well. We have a new sports arena the UDC Physical Activities Center , we are increasing athletic scholarships, and we expect to make up the money we will lose from the government cuts through increased attendance and concessions."
UDC's basketball teams also continued to remain a force on the Division II level. The men's team finished 16-8; the women's team 15-9.