Bryce Lentz rolled into the back of the makeshift fence surrounding the finish area and held up an arm to prevent a teammate from attempting to pick him up.
"I can't do anything right now," explained Lentz, who was looking for a free minute to catch his breath.
As the teammate obliged, Lentz struggled to all fours and then rose quickly to his feet. His break had been well deserved.
Just two minutes before, the Colgan senior had crossed the finish line as the winner in the Class 6 boys race at The Oatlands in Leesburg. His time of 16:10 topped a trio of Oakton runners by nine, ten, and 12 seconds, but also showed his discipline in pacing off the three Cougars, and then making his move at the right time and place.
"I usually take it out in the beginning," said Lentz, who joined a pack of six - Oakton's Arnav Tikhe, Garrett Woodhouse, Zach Morse, Nathan Atchu (Franklin County), and Xavier Jemison (McLean) through a 4:50 first mile.
Lentz and Tikhe broke away from the pack, with Tikhe leading through the two-mile (10:08), with Lentz two seconds behind. At this point, the Shark had planned to be ahead.
"I was going to make my move at the hill before the two-mile," said Lentz. "It came a little later."
But once the move was made, several hundred meters later, there was no doubt of his intention. "I couldn't look back," added the victor.
Woodhouse and Morse made a spirited charge, almost making up their 12 second deficit in the final 1800 meters, with Woodhouse nipping Tikhe in the stretch. As a team, Oakton easily won its fifth ever state title, adding Elham Huq (15th) and Nelson Jenkins (21st) adding to the scoring tally of 37 to give coach Matt Kroetch and his Cougars a 32-point cushion over runner-up West Springfield.
1 Bryce Lentz - Colgan High School 16:10
2 Garrett Woodhouse - Oakton 16:19
3 Arnav Tikhe - Oakton 16:20
4 Zach Morse - Oakton 16:22
5 Nathan Atchue - Franklin County 16:27
6 Owen McArdle - Yorktown 16:29
7 Hayden Hauser - Colgan 16:38
8 Ryan Watson - Justice 16:50
9 Quinn Parrish - James River (Midlothian) 16:57
10 Henry Anderson - West Springfield 16:57
1 Oakton 37 - 2+3+4+12+16 (20+46) 0:52 1-5 Split | 16:39 Avg
2 West Springfield 69 - 8+10+13+17+21 (29+30) 0:29 1-5 Split | 17:08 Avg
3 Yorktown 100 - 5+15+19+28+33 (42+48) 1:32 1-5 Split | 17:20 Avg
4 W.T. Woodson 101 11+14+18+27+31 (36+37) 0:47 1-5 Split | 17:24 Avg
5 Colgan High School 104 1+6+22+35+40 (44+55) 2:08 1-5 Split | 17:19 Avg
6 Ocean Lakes 137 9+24+32+34+38 (41+43) 1:14 1-5 Split | 17:46 Avg
7 James River (Midlothian) 151 7+23+25+47+49 (50+56) 1:56 1-5 Split | 17:56 Avg
8 Patriot High School 213 26+39+45+51+52 (53+54) 1:28 1-5 Split | 18:31 Avg