AUSTIN — Evan McQuirk started his senior year with a medal and ended with one as well.
The Van Alstyne long-distance standout claimed the bronze medal in the Class 2A 3,200 on Friday morning at the state track meet at Mike A. Myers Stadium, bookending his final year with success.
“It was a very amazing season,” McQuirk said. “I posted some good times and am looking forward to competing at the next level.”
McQuirk took third with a time of 9:40.14 and did it while running with a right foot injury that has lingered since before the Region II meet.
“I’ve been battling it for the last couple weeks. The only way a thing like this is going to go away is rest,” McQuirk said. “I was limited on my running. I was where I wanted to be five weeks ago. We had to cut back.”
He is no stranger to competing at the state level with an injury. As a junior he was 46th in the cross-country state meet after running with a stress fracture in his left foot.
He returned this season to win the Class 2A cross country title, become just the third Texoma male athlete and sixth area individual overall to claim a state cross-country title.
“After the state track meet last year, I took some time off to rest,” said McQuirk, who has signed with Oklahoma Baptist. “Every time I stepped on the road, every time I stepped on the track, I did it wanting to be a champion.”
This was McQuirk’s second straight time at state and after a seventh-place finish in the 1,600, he had different plans in a different event.
“It’s a lot different for me,” he said. “1,600 feels like a sprint. I’m a longer-distance guy.”
East Bernard’s Wyatt Kieler, who was second to McQuirk in cross-country, won the event in 9:27.89 and Luling’s Ryan Flores was the runner-up at 9:30.71.
Edgewood’s Trent Phelps set the early pace before falling back to finishing fifth and McQuirk was part of a pack in second place at the start. He moved into sole possession of second after the first lap, maintained that position following the second and then jumped to the front after Lap 3.
He was still in first place at the midway point and that was when the top three separated themselves. McQuirk was second and then a step behind Kieler in third going as the seventh lap started. He remained there as Kieler made his move to overtake Flores and just miss out on the Class 2A record.
“I’m pleased with my performance. I think it was a good due to what I had to deal with,” McQuirk said. “I wouldn’t characterize my performance as poor but I can go faster.”
McQuirk was all but guaranteed a medal after the midway point and had a 22-second advantage over fourth-place Kyle Doty of Bruceville Eddy.
“I didn’t realize there was such a huge gap,” McQuirk said. “I wanted to make sure I at least got to the podium.”