While four Loudoun teams shone just about equally bright in tennis, there was one team that stood out among the rest last year in track and field: the Loudoun County High School boys.
The Raiders made easy work of their Dulles District foes; they ran away with the Region II championship and fell just two points shy of E.C. Glass High School for the AA state track championship. The loss itself would have been difficult to swallow had E.C. Glass not picked up five points in the pole vault, an event in which Loudoun schools no longer compete.
In the mind of County track coach Courtney Campbell, that doesn’t diminish anything the Raiders accomplished last season.
“It’s impossible to follow up,” Campbell said. “Last year was a dream year, winning districts, region and second in states. You can’t follow up a year like that.”
But the Raiders will certainly try, and they bring back last year’s double-title winner, senior distance runner Patrick Joseph and reigning 400-meter state champion Steven Graham. The Raiders will need new faces to step up as well, and Campbell knows just how to motivate them.
“Our school puts up runner-up team pictures,” he said. “I keep pointing to those team pictures to tell them it’s possible.”
Campbell expects Potomac Falls and Tuscarora to be the two schools breathing down their neck this spring on the boys’ side.
On the girls’ side, Woodgrove High School was the county’s top finisher at a state meet, finishing fourth in Group AA, but coach Kent Staneart said many of the contributors from last year’s success have graduated.
“We lost most of our high scorers,” he said, mentioning Anna Harpster, Audrey Houghton and Florence Thompson, all of whom had all-state finishes in multiple races. “This year, it’s hard to tell at this point, but we have a lot of young kids coming out, and they appear to be reasonably talented, but there’s no way to know for sure.”
Staneart expects Briar Woods and Tuscarora, who had strong showings at the state meet last year, to once again be among the top teams in the county.
Track and field isn’t a team sport against opponents as much as it is an individual sport against the clock, so Staneart said the top teams will have shown themselves by mid-April.
“We host a really big meet here April 19 that will have most if not all of the teams in the county,” Staneart said. “That’s a real good litmus test to find out exactly what the best teams are.”