Prepare like always. Celebrate like never before.
The boys from Chantilly brought the same dogged approach that had come to define their season to Saturday’s Virginia AAA championships and it helped them deliver their school its first boys’ state cross-country title.
Sean McGorty won his first individual title while sparking Chantilly past Midlothian and Battlefield. In his usual style, the senior ran away from the field early on and was completely alone when he reached the finish, crushing the 5-kilometer course at Great Meadow in a state-meet record 14 minutes 47 seconds.
Lake Braddock captured the girls’ AAA title comfortably ahead of Oakton and Midlothian, the contest for second place coming down to a sixth-runner tiebreaker. The Bruins got a huge lift from senior Sophie Chase, who blazed to the line in 17:24 and finished nine seconds better than the state-meet record she set in victory last year.
Blacksburg swept both AA titles and Loudoun County senior Patrick Joseph was runner-up in the boys’ race in 15:40. In A, Wilson denied George Mason a fifth straight girls’ championship. The Mustangs were third in the boys’ meet behind Radford and Parry McCluer.
Chantilly, which finished undefeated against state competition all season, wasn’t about to let nerves steer them away from their routine Saturday on the grandest stage.
“I told them it’s nothing we haven’t done before. Just a different name,” McGorty said. “If they weren’t as mature as they are it would’ve got to them.”
McGorty’s point is well-taken, but, in a manner of speaking, he was wrong. Chantilly had never done anything like this before. His work ethic and positive attitude rubbed off on a Chargers team that has been nationally ranked for most of the season and swept Patriot District, Northern Region and state titles.
He had never done anything like this before. The course record was 15:02 and the Foot Locker finalist destroyed it by 15 seconds to become the first runner to ever break 15 minutes at the state meet.
“Having a record [to chase] is just like having somebody next to you,” McGorty said. “I really wanted to attack it.”
Chase, meantime, led Lake Braddock to its 10th state title. The last time the Bruins had won was when she was a freshman. It felt good, she said, to lead her school to a championship in her final trip to Great Meadow.
“It’s come full circle for me,” said Chase, who collapsed on a bench just beyond the finish line. “It’s unbelievable to see how far we’ve come. We’ve got that drive, that spirit, that fire.”