A caption on a girls swimming photo in the Jan. 19 Prince William Extra should have identified the swimmer as Osbourn Park's Tara Koff. A caption on a boys swimming photo in the same edition misspelled the first name of Gar-Field's Matt Miller. (Published 01/29/2000)

The Gar-Field boys swim team's rise to Cardinal District contender has been neither fast nor easy, but after defeating previously unbeaten Osbourn Park on Friday, the Indians appear primed to make a run at their first title.

Led by senior Matt Miller's victories in the 50 and 100 freestyle and a gritty performance by Josh Grand, Gar-Field knocked off the Yellow Jackets, 94-76. The victory was the Indians' fourth consecutive over Osbourn Park.

Grand--a junior transfer from Pennsylvania--swam despite a shoulder injury that Coach Rob Knoeppel said "he is not telling me [the truth] about" to win the 100 backstroke and place fourth in the 200 IM.

"You could see that every time he was pulling [his arm] he was gritting his teeth," Knoeppel said of Grand. "He had a huge meet for us, and he is this amazing, amazing kid. . . . I'm not sure what's going on with him except that he's swimming hurt and that he is sucking it up. He's just a gutsy kid."

The Indians (4-0) won seven of 11 events against Osbourn Park (4-1). Before this meet, Miller had set team records in his previous four events.

Gar-Field gradually has become a contender in the Cardinal District in the past five years. In Knoeppel's first year as an assistant five years ago, the Indians won just one meet. The next season Knoppel took over the coaching duties, and Gar-Field improved to .500 before finishing 4-2 the next season.

Last year the Indians entered their final regular season meet undefeated but suffered a flurry of unfortunate events before losing to Hylton. Several key swimmers came down with flu, another suffered an eardrum injury and another missed the meet to attend his grandmother's funeral.

Gar-Field then placed fifth in the Cardinal District championship meet.

"If you could think of something that could go wrong, it went wrong," Knoeppel said.

Last season's disappointing finish has taught Gar-Field to take nothing for granted and has the Indians focused on a run to a championship.

"In a lot of ways that was good for this team," Knoeppel said. "Slowly but surely we've established ourselves as one of the top teams. I think winning is a learning process, too. When we beat Hylton this year I think that was a big thing, because we had never beaten them before. It's a confidence thing."

The Gar-Field girls hope they, too, are in the early stages of that same learning process. Osbourn Park placed first in eight of 11 events to defeat the Indians, 97-73.

The victory improved Osbourn Park to 4-1; Gar-Field is 0-4.

The Yellow Jackets were led by Tara Koff and Kristina Mulholland--who each won two individual events in addition to being members of two winning relay teams. Mulholland won the girls 200 IM, and her brother Kerry won the boys 200 IM.

Hylton vs. Stonewall Jackson

The Hylton boys and girls teams earned their second consecutive victories with sweeps in key events Friday.

The Hylton girls (4-1) swept the top three spots in the 100 breaststroke--the meet's final individual event--to knock off the Raiders, 149-137. The boys (3-2) won the top three spots in the 50 and 100 freestyle events--led by sophomore Russell Wood's two first-place finishes, propelling the Bulldogs to a 184-102 win.

Seniors Amanda Brown and Erin Healey placed first and second in the 100 breaststroke, respectively, and junior teammate Tara Eide placed third in the event that proved the difference in the Bulldogs' victory.

"It's nice to finish the meet on such a positive," Hylton Coach Kim Sterling said. "Every race was extremely close, coming down to the finish. That's always fun to watch and gets the team into cheering."

For the boys, senior Jeff Bunch and sophomore Scott Keith followed Wood to the finish line in the 50 free, and senior Anthony Patterson and Keith placed second and third behind Wood in the 100 free.

Among the meet's more exciting events was the boys 100 breaststroke, in which junior Gerardo Granados edged Stonewall's Richard Packard by less than a second.

Woodbridge vs. Potomac

The Woodbridge girls continued their winning ways, dominating Potomac by placing in the top four spots in all but one event en route to a 227-51 victory Friday. The boys proved nearly as unstoppable in a 200-68 win.

Amanda VanHorn and Audrey Staples were double winners for the Vikings girls (5-0). VanHorn won the 50 and 200 freestyle, and Staples finished first in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke.

Christian Lindberg and Jeff Holway were the boys' two double winners. Lindberg took the stop spot in the 200 freestyle and 100 breaststroke, and Holway was first in the 200 IM and 100 butterfly.

More results, Page 12

CAPTION: Senior Mark Miller during the 200-meter freestyle for the Gar-Field boys team, which over five years has developed into a serious contender for this season's Cardinal District championship.

CAPTION: Celeste Woolley, Gar-Field girls fell to 0-4 after meet with Osbourn Park, which placed first in eight of 11 events to top the Indians, 97-73.