Chantilly senior Sean McGorty and Lake Braddock senior Sophie Chase won their respective races at the Foot Locker South Regional on Saturday in Charlotte, N.C., McGorty in course-record time.
McGorty, who captured the Virginia AAA title two weeks ago and is undefeated this season, overwhelmed the elite field representing 16 U.S. states and territories in much the same way he’s done to local competition all season. He ran away from Josh Brickell (Ga.) and the other 132 runners before breaking the tape on the 5-kilometer course at McAlpine Greenway in a personal-best 14 minutes 28 seconds.
Brickell was runner-up in 14:49. McGorty smashed the previous course record of 14:32 that was set by Andrew Bumbalough (Tenn.) in 2004.
“It’s like a dream come true,” McGorty, an All-Met, said.
In her third straight trip to the meet, Chase finally got her breakthrough. The reigning All-Met Athlete of the Yearpulled away from Karis Jochen (Tex.) during the final quarter and surged to victory in 17:05.
Runners battled on a cool day for one of the 10 automatic qualifying berths to next month’s national championship in San Diego, where they will compete against representatives from the Northeast, Midwest and West regions. Saturday marked the third straight time Chase has qualified.
It was a fantastic day for Virginia overall, specifically for the AAA Northern Region, as West Springfield’s Caroline Alcorta and Oakton’s Allie Klimkiewicz punched their tickets to San Diego for the first time. They finished eighth and ninth, respectively.
The experienced and normally hard-charging Chase let some of the other girls do most of the work during a quick first mile while still maintaining a good spot near the front. Around the 2-mile marker, she saw Jochen make her move and covered, staying right on Jochen’s hip.
Jochen and Chase traded the lead during the final portion. “It was scary. It was pretty intense,” Chase said.
Chase, who has won a plethora of state titles in cross country and indoor and outdoor track, including her second straight Virginia AAA state cross-country title two weeks ago, remembered getting outkicked during the same stretch last year and the disappointment of having to settle for second place. Not wanting to feel that sting again, she dug deep for one final burst.
It was enough.
“It’s everything I’ve worked for,” Chase said. “I can’t believe it.”
McGorty’s race wasn’t nearly as close. The Stanford recruit separated early, building a massive lead, and his attention was squarely on the clock during the final part of the race. With half a mile to go, McGorty’s tiring legs regained some of their spring as the crowd lining the course yelled to him that the course record was within reach.
“Having random people I’ve never seen before cheering me on always gives me extra strength,” McGorty said. “Everything that I worked for, the physical training and mental toughness, it’s all paying off.”
Logan Miller placed second at the Nike Cross Nationals Southeast Regional on Saturday, running a personal-best time at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
The Chantilly senior All-Met finished the 5K course and burst through the line in 15 minutes 19.70 seconds, less than a second ahead of Zack Langston of South Carolina.
Jacob Burcham (W. Va.) was the champion in 15:09.80.
More than 220 boys from 11 states and the District vied for a qualifying spot at the national championships in Portland, Ore., on Dec. 1. The top two teams and five individuals not attached to a qualifying team made it through.
Chantilly, which won the Virginia AAA Concorde District, Northern Region and state titles, was without senior Sean McGorty — the Chargers’ No. 1 runner was busy winning the Footlocker South Regional in Charlotte — but still finished third overall as a team and is eligible for one of the four at-large bids that will be distributed across the eight regions.
“After a high of [sweeping the postseason races] it’s very easy to pack it in mentally,” Chantilly Coach Matt Gilchrist said. “It shows that even late in the season they all still have something to show.”
Hannah Christen was the only area girl to qualify. The Lake Braddock junior was runner-up in 17:25. Wesley Frazier (N.C.) was the champion in 17:17.
Louisville TC and Wilmington XC were the two girls’ teams from the Southeast to automatically qualify for next month’s national championships. Louisville Extreme and Blacksburg got through on the boys’ side.