Stuck cruised to a first-place finish in 15 minutes, 21 seconds, at this year’s championship race in The Plains, 23 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor, then swiveled to watch teammates Sam Pritchard and Chris Weeks cross the finish line in fourth (15:50) and fifth (15:53) place. Three top-five finishes all but assured West Springfield of its first team championship since 1995.
“When I turned around, I saw my two guys there, I pretty much knew we were going to win, and I was so happy,” Stuck said.
The Spartans came in first with 39 points, 24 ahead of second-place Oakton (63).
On the girls’ side, Champe senior Bethany Graham won the Class 6 individual title in 17:42.
West Springfield Coach Chris Pellegrini expected Stuck and Pritchard to place in the top five, but only banked on a top-18 finish from Weeks. But Weeks “ran out of his mind” to help lift his team to victory, Pellegrini said.
“I was really proud of those three senior guys,” Pellegrini said. “This was the culmination of four years of build-up. They ran like this was their last cross-country race together. They wanted to do this together.”
Lake Braddock won the Class 6 girls’ championship without a top-10 finisher. Bruins junior Sophie Willis paced the team with her 12th-place finish in 19:02.
“Everyone needed to run well because we don’t have that individual superstar,” Coach Mike Mangan said.
Heading into the race, Mangan had identified six teams in addition to his own with a shot at the title. While the unusually large pack of contenders may have helped the Bruins’ odds, it made tracking points during the race nearly impossible.
Lake Braddock senior Emily Doran, typically the Bruins’ top runner, struggled in the race but didn’t relent. Her 22nd-place finish (19:38), while not her best individual performance, helped push her team to the title, Mangan said. Lake Braddock finished with 89 points, eight ahead of runner-up John Champe (97).
In Class 4, Loudoun Valley repeated as boys’ and girls’ champions. The Vikings claimed the top four times in the boys’ race to sail to their fifth straight title. Senior Carlos Shulz finished first (15:24), followed by classmates Kellen Hasle (15:40), Jeremiah Mussmon (15:49) and Taylor Ney (15:49).
In the girls’ race, sophomore Ava Gordan (18:04) and junior Ricky Fetterolf (18:10) finished one-two to lead the Vikings to a second straight title.
Loudoun Valley now looks ahead to the regional meet in Cary, N.C., on Nov. 30, ahead of the Nike Cross Nationals on Dec. 7 in Portland, Ore., where the boys’ team will look for a third consecutive national championship.
“Winning states is very exciting for us, but it’s not our primary goal anymore,” Coach Marc Hunter said. “We like to think at a national level. The state meet is a nice way to catapult us into what we call the post-postseason.”
Class 4 boys individual
Carlos Shultz, Loudoun Valley, 15:24
Class 4 boys team
Loudoun Valley, 17
Class 4 girls individual
Ava Gordon, Loudoun Valley, 18:04
Class 4 girls team
Loudoun Valley, 36
Class 6 boys individual
Sean Stuck, West Springfield, 15:21
Class 6 boys team
West Springfield, 39
Class 6 girls individual
Bethany Graham, Champe, 17:42
Class 6 girls team
Lake Braddock, 89