Less than a month after playing a football game almost 100 miles away because of the sniper shootings, No. 11 Westfield again went to extreme lengths to play a game yesterday. The Chantilly school hired a helicopter to blow-dry its football field in a last ditch effort to save last night's home game against Oakton.
At least four Virginia AAA Northern Region football games were postponed until today because of the thunderstorms that drenched the Fairfax area yesterday morning. But with more rain expected today, Westfield decided to bring in air support. The school offers an aviation course, and teacher Dave Jagles, a certified pilot, arranged for a friend to fly a helicopter for nearly 1 hour 20 minutes over the field.
"You could see the water flying off the grass," said Athletic Director Francis Dall, who declined to specify the cost of hiring the aircraft and pilot. "At noon today, a ball would have floated. We wanted to play in as dry conditions as we possibly could."
More important, by playing the game last night, the Bulldogs will have the same amount of rest between games as No. 3 Centreville, which faces Westfield on Saturday in a game that could decide the AAA Concorde District championship.
Last fall, the Good Counsel girls' cross-country team had an uncharacteristic season. The Falcons, who had won seven of eight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships from 1993 to 2000, placed fourth last year, their worst finish ever.
The memory of that performance haunted Good Counsel all summer. Saturday, at Lake Fairfax in Reston, however, the Falcons erased it. Led by runner-up Charlotte Reardon, Good Counsel outscored Paul VI Catholic by 44 points to take back the title.
"I think they really had a chip on their shoulder" about last season, Good Counsel Coach Tom Arnold said. "They were upset and, boy, did they work hard during the summer."
Good Counsel's boys' completed a sweep for the Wheaton school by winning its fourth consecutive team title.
The Falcons' boys edged Gonzaga by five points, led by junior Mike Ulaky, senior Joey Norcio and freshman Drew Abernethy, who finished third through fifth, respectively.
"The boys ran as perfect a race as I can remember," Arnold said.
Good Counsel's boys, who lost five of seven runners from last season to graduation, trailed Gonzaga at the halfway mark. Abernethy passed three runners at the two-mile mark, and the Falcons' fourth runner, sophomore Kyle Friis, recovered from a slow start to pass two Gonzaga runners in the last mile.
Eleanor Boyce of Paul VI won the girls' individual crown in 21:01.00, while Gonzaga's Mike Rooney (17:19.00) and Ryan Woodlee (17:20.0) were first and second, respectively, in the boys' race.
-- Tarik El-Bashir
and Jake Schaller