South Briefs (Nov. 12-19)

South Briefs (Nov. 12-19)

<b>W.T. Woodson’s Howes Recovers Well</b>

In August, W.T. Woodson junior Erica Howes wasn’t burning through a cross-country course. She was running in water and trying to rehabilitate multiple stress reactions in her knee, shin and femur.

Howes worked for weeks to gather the strength to merely complete a race, let alone dominate it, and finished the Glory Days Invitational on Oct. 11 in 19 minutes, 45 seconds.

But she continued to improve both performance- and health-wise over the next few weeks, finishing fourth at the Liberty District meet (18:06) on Oct. 22 and fifth at the Northern Region (18:06) race on Oct. 30.

“She’s a really aggressive runner. She just doesn’t fear anybody,” said one of Woodson’s three coaches, Craig Davis (Ron Katz and Casandra DeVaughn are the others), following Howes’ third-place finish at last Saturday’s Virginia AAA cross-country championships.

Running at Great Meadow in The Plains, Howes shook off any lingering effects from her early-season struggles, completing the 3.1-mile course in a personal-best 18:29, shaving 76 seconds off of her time from less than a month ago.

“I can’t really wrap my head around it,” said Howes, who transferred to W.T. Woodson this summer from Saratoga Springs, N.Y. “It’s just so exciting. I’m glad I could show what I could do.”

<b>Spartans Outshoot Woodson, 72-47</b>

West Springfield football coach Bill Renner’s explanation was much simpler than the game itself.

“We did what it took to win,” Renner said, following his team’s 72-47 home victory over W.T. Woodson (7-4) last Friday.

With little defense in sight for this Northern Region Division 6 quarterfinal matchup, West Springfield matched Woodson point for point and eventually pulled away by scoring three straight times late in the third quarter and into the fourth.

Junior running back Dan Collins (26 carries, 351 yards, three touchdowns) scored the first and last of those three consecutive touchdowns, while senior quarterback Bryn Renner posted a 5-yard run for the second score.

“I give it up to the offensive line for giving me good blocks,” said Collins of his eye-popping performance. “I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team out.”

Bryn Renner, who completed 20 of his 31 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns, also ran for 55 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.

With the win, West Springfield improved to 8-3 this season and will face Oakton (11-0) in Friday’s semifinal matchup.

West Springfield has scored 484 points this season, an average of 44 per game and tops of any Northern Region team not named Stone Bridge (563). Oakton, on the other hand, has averaged 34.7 points per contest.

<b>Epstein Finishes Sixth at Virginia AAA Championships</b>

Liana Epstein, a junior from Lake Braddock, finished in sixth place on Saturday at the Virginia AAA championship meet. She finished with a personal-best mark of 18 minutes, 46 seconds.

“I was very happy with how I did at states,” she said. “The Great Meadow course is much different than Burke Lake [Park]. There are a lot more hills, the grass is a little longer and no part of it is on the road.”

“She had a pretty good race,” said Bruins coach Mike Mangan. “We were hoping to be in that front pack, but it’s a pretty different style of course than we’ve run this year. I think in general she did pretty well, first team All-State and sixth overall is pretty darn good.”

Epstein won her two previous meets, the Northern Region championship (17:47) on Oct. 30 and Patriot District meet (17:55) on Oct. 23. Both races were at Burke Lake Park.

When asked about how it differed from last year, Epstein said, “Well, it’s very different. I felt like I was more a part of the competition. This year, I got top 10, and last year, I got 36th place. I felt like I was in the more competitive part of the race. I had more of a chance to succeed.”

<b>Degfae Brothers Make Top 15</b>

In their final race at Great Meadow, Edison brothers Leoule and Tihut Degfae, both seniors, posted top 15 finishes. Leoule Degfae, who won Patriot District and Northern Region individual titles during the past two weeks, took third place with a time of 15 minutes, 29 seconds.

Tihut Degfae finished 13th, completing the 3.1-mile course in 15:59. Tihut Degfae had been bothered by an early-season hip flexor injury but showed no ill effects on Saturday.

“The first mile I had to warm up to it because I didn’t want to agitate my injury,” Tihut Degfae said. “I felt pretty good, so I started picking up people the second mile, and the third mile came around and I tried to work the hills and get a good spot for the finish.”

“Nobody in the front was breathing hard, so you had to wait until the last stretch to see who was going to win,” Leoule Degfae said. “I just ran with [the leaders] almost throughout the whole race until the last straightaway. That’s when they started separating from me.”

<b>Paul VI Falls Short of State Finals</b>

The third-ranked Paul VI boys soccer team came just short of reaching the Virginia Independent School State Finals against second-ranked Episcopal on Wednesday, Nov. 5. Lorenzo D’Agostino gave Paul VI the early lead with a converted penalty kick, but with two minutes left to go, Episcopal tied it up with a penalty kick of its own. The teams went into a penalty shootout after two deadlocked overtimes, which resulted in an Episcopal win over Paul VI, 5-4. The Panthers finished fourth in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and third in the VISAA, making it to the state final four for the first time in school history.

<b>Jefferson Roundup</b>

The Jefferson girls cross-country team finished third in the Virginia AAA championships without top runner Lisa Junta of Springfield. Sarah Stites (Reston) kept the pace as she finished fourth with a time of 18:30. This was the Colonials’ first state championship appearance since 2002.

The Jefferson boys team finished seventh in a competitive field, led by Colin Maloney (Fairfax), who finished 37th with a time of 16:39. The Jefferson boys team was making its eighth consecutive state appearance.

<b>Pastor Named to All-CAA First Team</b>

West Springfield graduate Laurel Pastor of the Virginia Commonwealth women’s soccer team led four players to win All-Colonial Athletic Association honors. Pastor led the team with nine goals and 20 points in 19 games this season as the Rams finished 9-9-1. After only two seasons, she ranks in the top 20 in school history with 11 goals and 25 points. During her freshman year, she was named to the CAA All-Freshman team, playing in 19 games and starting 10. At West Springfield, she led the Spartans to the district championship her freshman and senior years, earning All-District honors all four years.

<b>Maykoski All-CAA Second Team pick</b>

Robinson graduate Teri Maykoski of the James Madison Dukes was awarded with second team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors for women’s soccer. This is the second year in a row that Maykoski was named All-Conference. In 2006, she was named James Madison defense’s most valuable player. She became a redshirt-junior this year after being sidelined with an injury throughout all of 2007. She was a four-time All-District player at Robinson, winning state, region and district championships in 2002.

<b>Broaddus, Savaides Given All-CAA honors</b>

William and Mary’s Mikala Savaides was named to the All-CAA second team and All-Rookie team for women’s field hockey. A Lake Braddock graduate, Savaides tallied 10 points on four goals and two assists and was named CAA Rookie of the Week twice. During 2005 and 2006, Savaides earned All-District and All-Region honors at Lake Braddock where the Bruins won district championships both years. She scored 34 goals and tallied 21 assists in her four years.