Five teams begin state title defense -- Gazette.Net


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For the past two seasons, the Sherwood girls volleyball team has been near perfect. With University of Florida recruit Alex Holston leading the way, the Warriors have recorded consecutive Class 4A state titles and won every non-tournament style match.

On Saturday, Holston, an outside hitter, and classmate setter Maddie Moyer — both likely four year varsity starters — began their final high school preseason practice.

“The first day of practice is just a lot of fun because there is so much built up anticipation,” coach Brian McCarty said. “We are all excited about getting back into the gym and seeing each other again.”

The Warriors, along with the Watkins Mill boys soccer team, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase girls soccer team and the Walter Johnson boys and B-CC girls cross country programs began preparations Saturday as reigning state title holders.

Saturday was the first day public schools throughout the state were allowed to conduct practice for the 2012 season. Practice time has also been reduced due to the state's new heat acclimatization rules.

“The first few days are about hard work and establishing intensity,” said McCarty, who added the success of the program has generated more interest in the sport throughout the entire Olney community and more than 50 girls participated in the opening day of tryouts. “Obviously we have lofty goals but it is a new season and a new building process. Each day counts just as much as the next. We can't win state titles in August, but what we do now is just as important as November.”

In Bethesda, B-CC coach Rob Kurtz has developed a girls soccer dynasty, having won four consecutive state titles. The veteran coach has developed a pipeline for a program that consistently reloads and he also coaches the majority of his players at Westland Middle School.

“The first day for me has always been more administrative,” Kurtz said. “We give a presentation about what the program expects, collect all the forms and do a little bit of stretching and running. We really don't do anything soccer-related until the second day.

“That day, however, is always exciting since it signals we are done with summer workouts. We don't want to blow a tire with an injury early in camp. It's all about finding the right way to peak. I love the beginning of practice just so I can see how much the girls have improved.”

In contrast, Watkins Mill coach Jeff Heckert is in rare territory after having directed the Wolverines to their first ever boys soccer state title last fall.

“The day rejuvenates me,” he said. “The mystery of the unknown every year is exciting. It begins a two-and-a-half month process of being together six of the seven days of the week.

“We are in unprecedented territory here. But I've made a rule that we won't talk about last year. It is a completely different team.”

Senior captains Sergio Mosquera and Ariel Rodriquez return and will be responsible for helping a roster that lost a lot of talent.

“Our first day may be a little more unique than other teams since our student population is pretty transient,” Heckert said. “I just found out that I lost four kids that moved that I expected back. … Some guys on the team this year might not even be enrolled in school yet.”

Walter Johnson won its fourth straight Class 4A cross country state title last fall and its top three runners graduated. The Wildcats, however, did have quality young depth last year in Michael Spak and Franklin Floresca. The B-CC girls also won their fifth state championship overall.

kzakour@gazette.net