It was more coronation than competition for Chantilly senior Sean McGorty and Lake Braddock senior Sophie Chase Friday at the Virginia AAA Northern Region championships. It was how they won their crowns that made everyone’s jaws drop.
McGorty unleashed a wave of devastation, annihilating the 2.98-mile course and capturing his first region title in 14 minutes 19 seconds on a cold and blustery afternoon in Fairfax Station.
Lake Braddock senior All-Met Nick Tuck was runner-up in 15:03.
McGorty tied Sharif Karie (West Springfield) for the second-fastest time ever produced at Burke Lake Park. Only Alan Webb, the American record holder in the mile, has ever run faster.
“I’m thrilled with this,” said McGorty, shaking his head and exhaling deeply before speaking. “It’s been quite the journey here.”
Chantilly winning its first team title since 1992 only sweetened the emotions. The Chargers easily discarded defending champion Oakton, Robinson and Lake Braddock. The top four teams and 15 individuals from Friday qualified for next week’s state meet.
Chase’s day mimicked McGorty’s in nearly every way: The top-ranked runner in Virginia led her team to an emotional victory on a famed course by capturing her third straight individual title with a time for the ages. Chase broke free from the pack early and burst through the finish line in 16:42. That is the third fastest girls’ time ever run at Burke Lake Park and it smashed the school record of 16:49 that Wendy Neely had owned since 1986.
“I got her,” laughed Chase, a Foot Locker finalist who wore purple gloves on Friday to shield her hands from the biting wind.
Lake Braddock failed to make it out of the region last year, but behind the defending All-Met Athlete of the Year the Bruins were able to reach the top of the podium on Friday. Oakton, Chantilly and West Springfield followed.
McGorty soaked in the moment by posing for photos with his family and teammates. The All-Met’s head appeared to be on a swivel as he spun in different directions to accept high fives from people he knew—and plenty he did not.
Said one well-wisher as he slapped McGorty’s hand: “You’re a legend.”
West Springfield’s Caroline Alcorta was runner-up in a quick girls’ race that had 11 girls break 18 minutes. The junior All-Met finished in 16:58.