There are cross-country invitationals and then there is the Georgetown Prep Cross-Country Classic.
The seventh-annual Little Hoya meet begins at 10 a.m. today, featuring 75 metropolitan-area high schools and more than 1,300 runners. The seven-event competition is dubbed by many as this region's cross-country championship.
Meanwhile, at the Cooper School in McLean, the fourth-annual Virginia Cross-County Championship, will begin at 2 p.m. The meet will bring together club, school, military, and unattached runners from the metropolitan area.
In the 10-kilometer open event at 3:10 p.m., Bruce Robinson at Bethesda, Phil Stewart of the District, Dan Rincon of College Park and Max White of Alexandria will compete. All are veterans of the U.S. Olympic marathon trials.
More than 100 women are expected to run in a five-kilomater even starting at 2:30 p.m. A 10-kilometer seniors race takes off at 3 p.m., and a two-kilometer run for eighth-graders and below will begin at 2 p.m.
One indication of Prep's meet status is that all Northern Virginia teams have moved back their district championships to accomodate that Georgetown Prep event. There's another sign, may be even better: the past four individual winners of the boys' race all have been later named to the scholastic All-America cross-country team.
"This is a tremendous test of every body's strength." Edison coach John Cook said. "This is our one real chance to schedule any Maryland teams and from what I hear. Churchill may be the one to beat this year."
If Churchill is to win, it will have to fight off defending champion Handley of Winchester, Va., and strong Virginia squads from Edison. Langley, Woodbridge, Oakton and state AAA champion Hermitage of Richmond. Private schools Landon and O'Connell also will field potent teams.
"This is probably my best team since I've been at Churchill," said coach Andy Wife, whose boys' squad won the 51-team Arundel Invitational two weeks ago. "we're tighter, stronger and more experienced. We'd definetely like to win this."
Individuals to watch in the boys' competition are Mike Mansy of T.C. Williams, Edison's Chuck Wimberly; Oakton's Jimmy Hill and Langley's Jon Babcock. Rich Coffin of Churchill Bill Kovach of Landon also will contend for top individual honors.
In the girls' competition, Ruth Drengwitz and Mary Walsh should give Northwood a good shot. T.C. Williams will ride on the strength of Verna Wyatt while Fort Hunt, the defending Northern Virginia track champ, will reply on Linda Portasik. Churchill and Bethesda-Chevy Chase have solid teams and could provide some surprises.
The meet begins at 10 a.m. with a junior high event. Junior varsity boys' races will be run at 10:30 and 11. The varsity girls take off at 11:30 and noon. The premiere boys' race starts at 1 p.m.