The Northern Region’s top runners will converge on Great Meadows Equestrian Center in The Plains, Va., Saturday to compete in the Virginia AAA cross country championships. Four teams and 15 individuals from both the boys and girls sides qualified for the event in last weekend’s regional meet at Burke Lake Park.
To no one’s surprise, Chantilly senior Sean McGorty headlines the boys qualifying group in the wake of a stellar season that offered him little in the way of competition. McGorty’s latest triumph came at last Saturday’s Northern Region meet, where he produced a record-setting performance that resulted in his first individual region title. His school-record time of 14 minutes, 19 seconds marked the second-fastest time ever run on the 2.98-mile course. It tied West Springfield’s Sharif Karie and trailed only Alan Webb, the American record holder in the mile who competed for South Lakes High School.
McGorty’s time was 31 seconds faster than the result he posted earlier this season at Burke Lake in the Monroe Parker Invitational, which he won by 26 seconds.
“Sean ran exceptionally well,” Chantilly coach Matt Gilchrist said. “It was his last race at Burke Lake, so he wanted to leave his mark. One of his goals for this season was to move up as high as possible on the all-time list. I’m very happy for him. He’s a hard worker, and he deserves it.”
McGorty’s performance helped the Chantilly boys team capture its first regional title since 1992. Oakton, Robinson and Lake Braddock also qualified for this weekend’s meet.
Defending state champion Sophie Chase was similarly dominant on the girls’ side last weekend. The Lake Braddock senior came away with her third straight regional title with a time of 16:42, marking the third-fastest girls’ time ever produced at Burke Lake. Her time also broke the school record of 16:49 held by Wendy Neely since 1986.
Chase’s dominance offered just one of a litany of great performances by the Bruins, who redeemed their failure to get out of the region last year by finishing in first place this year. Oakton, Chantilly and West Springfield also qualified.
“This year it’s a little bit different with the team there, but there’s also a different group of people that are chasing [Chase], so we’ll just see how it works out,” said Lake Braddock coach Michael Mangan, whose girls team seeks its first state title since 2009. “We’ll see if she can grab that state championship, and if we can have a great race as a team. That would be the most awesome, to have individual and team champions. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Lake Braddock senior Nick Tuck finished last weekend’s race in second place with a time of 15:03, which broke a school record that had been in place since 1985. Tuck heads a young core that includes a freshman, three sophomores, a junior and two seniors.
The Chantilly girls, meanwhile, put together an impressive regional outing that saw each of its top seven runners post personal-best times. They qualified for states for the first time since 2000, allowing both the boys and girls teams to jointly qualify for the first time since 1985.
“The girls have been very patient,” Gilchrist said. “They’ve sort of watched the guys get a lot of the attention, but the girls put together a very good season of their own. They’ve been very competitive at invitationals and at districts, and their goal all season was to make it to the state meet.”