Owen McArdle achieved his top goal this season of winning an individual state championship, and the Yorktown High School senior nearly helped his team win the title, as well.
McArdle finished first in 15:45 the morning of Nov. 13 at the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 boys state meet on the Great Meadow course in The Plains. He was the first individual state cross country champion, boy or girl, in school history, and the first from an Arlington public high school in 59 years.
“Chris ran a smart and tactical race. He let others lead and break the wind, then he really hammered the last mile hard to get the lead, keep it and win,” Yorktown coach Jacob Dumford said.
McArdle said his race strategy went as planned.
“I stayed relaxed through the first two miles, then really hammered the last mile right at the start of going up a hill. That’s my strength,” McArdle said. “I was hurting pretty good at the end, but was able to run the race pretty tactically. The conditions were tough, but I like that.”
McArdle said his goal to win the state grew stronger as the season progressed with his high finishes in various meets.
“When the season started, my coach told me, let’s win every race,” said McArdle, who will run at the University of Virginia.
The state crown capped a standout season for McArdle, who won the region title a week earlier, finished second in the Liberty District race, won the Arlington County meet and was first in a total of five meets overall. McArdle finished sixth in last season’s state meet.
“The conditions and the course were tough today, windy, soft ground and the grass was tall. To do well, runners had to have a gritty tough effort,” Dumford said.
As a team, Yorktown placed second with 88 points, just five behind champion Oakton with 83. The second-place finish in the state was Yorktown’s highest in program history.
“That was so awesome to get second, but then you think, we were so close to winning,” McArdle said. “Our goal was to do as good as we could as a team. That was the best thing.”
Also for the Yorktown boys at the state meet, Jack Levine finished ninth (16:25), Bennett Lamb was 15th (16:35), Matthew Pedicano took 53rd and Jack Blocher 54th.
“Before the race, I thought we could finish anywhere from first to fifth,” Dumford said. “It was a strong showing. Our guys all passed runners on that last long home stretch to get some crucial points. Owen is a huge impact on our team, and Bennett really got better and better the last four races after working hard to recover from an injury. We had the best three runners of any team in the meet.”
In the Class 6 girls meet, Yorktown senior Anna Corcoran had a strong finish by placing fourth in 18:24. The winning time was 17:29. During the regular season, Corcoran won the Arlington County girls meet.
NOTE: The last individual runner from an Arlington public school to win a state cross country championship was Steve Lyon from Washington-Lee in 1962.