They were minus the individual front-runners of last season’s dominating state championship boys team, but the Oakton Cougars were still strong enough to defend their title Nov. 13 at the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 state meet on the Great Meadow course in The Plains.
Oakton won with 83 points, five ahead of the runner-up Yorktown Patriots. The state crown was the sixth in school history for the boys team, giving the squad its first consecutive state crowns.
The top finisher for Oakton was Iyasu Yemane in 18th in 16:40. Tyler Coleman placed 24th in 16:50, Elham Huq 27th (16:53), Landon Newell 32nd (16:56), Connor Eklund 36th (17:03), Quin Sehon 37th (17:04) and Derek Lewis 52nd (17:14). Of those runners, only Huq and Sehon ran in last season’s state meet for Oakton.
“Our pack of runners was the key,” Oakton coach Matt Kroetch said. “We won a little differently this season. We didn’t have the front and power runners of the past two seasons, but all of our runners this season made a huge jump since the beginning of the season, and kept willing their way. They were ready to go and wanted this. It doesn’t matter how you win. A state title is a state title.”
Overall, the Cougars’ postseason success also included a victory in the region meet and a second in the Concorde District championships.
Kroetch kind of nicknamed his team “the unexpected crew.”
“Before the [state] race, we knew we had a chance to win and would be in the mix,” Kroetch said. “It depended on how close our pack would be. They finished strong and things fell our way. It was a special moment.”
Heading into the 2022 campaign, Oakton loses just one senior from this season’s team.
NOTE: Prior to this season and last, the Oakton boys’ previous state championships came in 2008, 2005, 1998 and 1978. Kroetch ran on that 2005 team.
* Also at the boys state meet, McLean senior Xavier Jemison finished third in 15:59. The winning mark was 15:45. Madison’s Robbie Jenkins was sixth (16:13), Marshall’s Sean Sanders 13th (16:32), and Madison’s Aidan Diconti (16:33) and Chaney Arick (16:59) were 14th and 34th, respectively.
In the girls Class 6 state meet the same date and place, defending champion Thais Rolly of McLean High School finished second (17:50) and helped her team place second, as well, with 95 points. The winning time was 17:29 and Ocean Lakes won the girls team crown with 67 points.
The Oakton girls finished sixth (157) and the Langley girls eighth (182).
Also for McLean in the girls meet, Calypso Rolly was eighth (19:00), Elise Walker 24th (19:36), Leah Durkee 27th (19:42) and Antigone Stark 71st (21:27) were the other top runners. The runner-up finish was McLean’s highest at the state meet in program history.
* Leading the Oakton girls was Raquel Lewis in sixth (18:38), Sitota Mesfin 16th (19:21), Anna Lewis 61st (20:51), Rhianen Eichelbaum 65th (21:01) and Kanykei Korosheva 72nd (21:30).
Leading Langley was Lila Waters in 18th (19:25) and Hazel Calway in 28th (19:45).
Marshall High’s Haley Spoden finished 10th (19:08) and for Madison High, Lydia Mikhin was 26th (19:39) and Mary Byrne 37th (20:03).
* Potomac School’s Charlie Ortmans finished second in 15:26 at the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association’s Division I boys state cross country championship meet Nov. 11. The winning time was 15:18.
Ortmans helped Potomac School finish fifth as a team on the Pole Green Park course in Mechanicsville. Also for the Potomac School in the boys race, Sasha Minsky finished seventh (16:49) and Nathan Boyle 30th (17:55).
In the girls Division I state meet, Potomac School finished 10th, Oakcrest 14 and the Madeira School 15th.