This is the first of a 4-part series as Viva Loudoun editor Dan Sousa takes a look at the 2011-12 high school sports year in Loudoun
(June 27, 2012) - A talented Class of 2012 helped Loudoun County Public Schools athletes reach new heights in the 2011-12 school year with success on the individual and team levels. In all, a record 199 LCPS senior athletes committed to play athletics at the college level and before graduating many helped their schools raise championship banners on the district, regional and state levels.
On the team levels, the 2011-12 school year was about the rise of the two schools opened in 2005 – Briar Woods and Freedom – and the emergence of Loudoun’s two newest schools opened just two years ago – Tuscarora and Woodgrove.
Briar Woods cemented its place as a power at the Virginia High School League AA classification in the state with a third straight competitive cheer state in the fall and then the Falcons football team repeated its Division 4 state title.
That football title gave Ashburn area schools an incredible five state titles in five years with Stone Bridge winning Division 5 in 2007 and Broad Run taking the Division 4 crown in 2008 and 2009. Along the way, Briar Woods senior Alex Carter was named the Gatorade Virginia Football Player of the Year.
South Riding’s Freedom, along with Broad Run, moved up to the AAA classification with increasing enrollment and the Eagles had their school’s best ever athletic year with the volleyball, gymnastics and baseball teams making the state tournament and both soccer teams took Cedar Run District titles in a breakout spring. In the winter Freedom sent two wrestlers to the AAA state finals with senior DaQuante Timbers winning the 285 pound AAA state wrestling title, perhaps one of the tougher state championships to claim with Virginia’s history of top-notch prep wrestling programs.
While Briar Woods and Freedom had seven years to lay the banner groundwork, it took Purcellville’s Woodgrove less than two years to raise a host of banners as the Wolverines had an incredible spring with the girls soccer and softball teams capturing AA state titles within hours of each other and both lacrosse teams winning sectional titles and making the state tournament. Second-year Tuscarora just missed in the spring at its first state title as the Huskies boys soccer team fell by a goal to Jamestown in the state finals.
The success of the younger schools didn’t mean that Loudoun’s more established school’s didn’t have their success and a pair of dynasties came oh so close to adding another state title as the Broad Run girls soccer team went on an improbable playoff run and fell in penalty kicks of the AAA state finals to be denied a fifth straight state championship after winning four straight at the AA level.
The Loudoun County girls volleyball program also saw its bid for a fifth straight state title fall short as the Raiders rolled to Dulles District and Region II titles before falling in the state semifinals.
The Loudoun County boys track and field team finished runner-up at the AA state track and field meet for a second straight year as the Raiders came within a heartbreaking two points of becoming Loudoun’s first ever boys team to stand on top of the podium.
For as well as Loudoun’s teams fared the 2011-12 school year was perhaps best known for some outstanding individual efforts with Dominion High School junior Sam Stillwell setting the table in October with a great comeback to win the AA state golf tournament. Stillwell, trailed by five strokes after the first day of the two-day event, but fired a 66 second round to become Loudoun’s first state golf champ since Dominion’s Sara Hurwitch won the girls open title in 2004 and first Loudoun boy to accomplish the feat since Potomac Falls’ Garrett Pike inn 2001.
In the winter, not only did Timbers win that AAA title but Potomac Falls’ Batchka Zulkhuu won the 152 title at the AA tournament. Loudoun had not had a wrestling champion since 2005.
Heritage junior Kaleigh Rosenburg made a splash in the pool with a 1:03.21 swim to win the 100 breast state title at the A/AA state meet. Heritage, like Loudoun Valley, moved down in classification in 2011-12 to AA from AAA, rejoining the 9-team Dulles District.
The individual achievements reached their peak on June 2 as Loudoun athletes brought home seven state titles, including five boys state titles as the AA state meet. Loudoun County’s Patrick Joseph (800 and 1600 meters) and Heritage’s Marcus Finney (110 and 300 meter hurdles) each won two state titles with Finney’s 14.10 time in the 110 a new state record.
Loudoun County’s Steven Graham defended his state title in the 400 meters and the Woodgrove girls quartet of Lydia Cromwell, Florence Thompson, Alex Juzbasich and Audrey Houghton combined to win the 4x800 meter relay, a first state title ever for Loudoun girls in that event.
Broad Run’s Jonathan Russell claimed the AAA state 300 meters hurdles by nearly a full second after capturing the AA state title in 2011.
Despite the heights reached in 2011-12 it appears that Loudoun’s rise in athletics on the state – and now the national level – will continue to elevate as high-profile recruits such as Stone Bridge’s Jon Allen (Alabama committed) and Ryan Burns (Stanford) and Briar Woods Matt Rolin (South Carolina) will take the field as seniors in the fall.
And Woodgrove girls soccer state title run was built partially on the foundation of six juniors with verbal commitments to play soccer in college and the Stone Bridge girls soccer and softball teams, which both made it to the AAA state quarterfinals this spring, were powered by junior-dominated rosters. Also, with state champions Joseph and Graham returning for their senior years, expect the Loudoun County boys track and field team to make a third straight run at that elusive AA state title.
Tomorrow we will take a closer look at the Fall 2011 season.