From the moment the Oakton Cougars finished second in the 2019 state cross country meet, the boys team set a goal to win the next season’s Virginia championship.
The Cougars had to wait and be patient much longer than normal. The 2020 fall season was postponed until the early spring because of the pandemic. Through the delays, the team maintained its focus and discipline, and the runners stayed in shape.
In the end, 18 months later, Oakton indeed made good on its goal by winning the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 state crown April 22 at Oatlands in Leesburg. Oakton won convincingly with 37 points, as defending champion West Springfield was a distant second with 69.
“This was definitely something they have worked hard for the last 18 months,” Oakton coach Matt Kroetch said. “They were patient through so many uncertainties. It’s so nice to have it happen and it is a big thrill.”
The state cross country title was the fifth in school history for the boys program, and first since 2008. The others were in 2005, 1998 and 1978. Kroetch ran on that 2005 team.
Leading Oakton individually at the 2021 state meet was senior Garrett Woodhouse’s runner-up finish in 16:19. Fellow senior Arnav Tikhe was third in 16:20, senior Zach Morse placed fourth (16:22), junior Elham Huq 15th (17:06), senior Nelson Jenkins 21st (17:11), senior Aidan Whipp 25th (17:25) and sophomore Quin Sehon 56th (18:34).
“They more or less executed our race plan to perfection,” Kroetch said. “They worked in clusters very well.”
Prior to the state meet, Oakton was dominant in winning Concorde District and 6D North Region reacs by wide margins, with Woodhouse first the region meet. Tikhe won the district.
* Also in the boys state meet, Langley High’s Boden Gentile was 14th (17:06), Marshall’s Sean Sanders 19th (17:09) and McLean’s Xavier Jemison 32nd (17:39).