After last year's year of the defender, this year will see quite at least 75% new champions. The only three athletes in fact that are defending their state title are George Austin III in Class 2, Kensey May in Class 1, and Ava Gordon in Class 4.
All three of these individuals have strong chances at repeating. Though none are a shoe-in, you can solidly say whether this meet was this weekend or in late April that the top line odds aren't going to change much on defending state champions.
Team wise there are a few changes as well.
Teams Defending That Are Strongly Favored
Loudoun Valley Girls - The Loudoun Valley girls are strongly favored in our book. Now they aren't an absolute lock but from what we have seen these past few years and what they have returning we think they will grab number three with Blacksburg right behind them in Class 4.
Western Albemarle Boys - They lost their entire top three, and it was a great top three that went 1-2-3 at states last year, but return has heavy favorites yet again. This year they are seeking their 4th title in a row and should tie it up nicely in Class 3.
Union High School Boys - They lost their 1 and 3 from last year's state meet but aside from that the rest return, especially Tanner Cusano who is their best runner. They look real good heading into states and pending anything crazy it should be quick work.
George Wythe (W) Girls - The girls from George Wythe are back to defend their title and if you were a betting person this would be one of the safest bets you can make. Class 1 should be their's again.
Teams Defending Slightly Favored To Win
Loudoun Valley Boys - It is crazy to think they are not strongly favored here in Class 4 but Grafton and even Mechanicsville (formerly Lee-Davis) are right on their tails. In fact using the returning team rankings Grafton and LV are dead even tied. Now things would be different in a virtual state meet but history is on the LV Vikings side and that is why we give them the edge here. This race is the race for their 6th, record tying, state team title in a row.
Maggie Walker Girls - Maggie Walker came back to prove the haters wrong last year when they moved up in classification to Class 3 and this year they want to prove more. They are slight favorites on paper against their rivals - Western Albemarle who is constantly there with them flipping who is first or second.
Radford Girls - The Radford girls are favorites here but Glenvar is looking really good. Technically Glenvar is still ranked behind by our returning rankings but more and more it is looking like their leader, Carly Wilkes, cannot be caught and that lock score of one upfront is a strong argument in their favor.
Teams Defending Within Striking Distance
Parry McCluer Boys - PM won the big one last year but this year they sit once again behind Auburn on the rankings list. They are ranked number two though and despite losing quite a few scorers, actually have a chance at winning the back-to-back title in Class 1.
Lake Braddock Girls - The Lake Braddock Bruins are a powerhouse, you can't really say dynasty since they've just won so much for so long that it is isn't just one streak. Last year they won and this year the return as the number two ranked team, very closely ranked behind Ocean Lakes and ahead of Cosby for the Class 6 crown. Just one runner would have to either have a bad day or break thru day and that would swing the pendulum in their favor.
West Springfield Boys - Last year it wasn't close for the Class 6 title. West Springfield made quick work of their competition but this year it could be Oakton's chance to return the favor. Don't count out the WS Spartans though, it takes a lot to win it and that is why even though on paper they are not anywhere close to being favored, they are still very much in striking distance.
Teams Defending With Work To Do
Deep Run Girls - The Deep Run program, not just the girls team, always finds a way to run out of their minds at the state meet. They enter the season ranked 3rd as a team for Class 5 and will once again be chasing Midlothian who this year are the very strong favorites for this title.
Albemarle Boys - Albemarle made history happen again last year and will certainly be trying again this year. Quite a few top scorers have graduated but they could still pull it off. Pre-seaosn wise they enter the season ranked 5th behind Stone Bridge and Freedom at the top.