AUSTIN - For a guy who set the fastest Class 2A time in the state in the two-mile event back in March at the Jesuit Sheaner Relays, Van Alstyne’s Evan McQuirk did not have luck on his side entering the UIL State Track & Field Meet. The speedy, tough McQuirk was one of the sure-fire favorites entering the event and was seeded as No. 3 coming into Friday morning’s 3200-meter run but a foot and ankle injury had severely limited his training in the weeks leading into the event.
Despite all this, McQuirk gutted out a third place finish in the Class 2A 3200-meter run at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus on Friday morning. He ran a 9:40.14 for third behind Wyatt Kieler of East Bernard (9:27.89) and Ryan Flores of Luling (9:30.71.)
"I’ve been trying to battle through that [injury]," said McQuirk. "But last meet, last race, I’ll gladly take the bronze. It’s a blessing to be able to run against those guys, they’re great."
McQuirk started out strong, taking the lead on the back straight on the first lap. At about the six-minute mark of the race it was clear that McQuirk was going to take a spot on the medal stand as he maintained his place in the lead group throughout, despite challenges.
"I felt pretty good," said McQuirk. "[But] I really started to hurt those last two laps."
Despite the stiff upper lip, it was evident McQuirk felt like he let one get away. That 9:23 he ran at the Jesuit Sheaner Relays is an unofficial state record (only times run at state meets count as official state records) but it was also a clear sign of what the Van Alstyne senior was capable of. The state record in 2A sits at 9:25.90 and was set in 1988.
Jenny and Steve McQuirk felt for their son. They’ve been there through all the training – roughly 900 miles ran preparing for this race – and all the wins and even throughout the hard-to-treat irritation injury. And they saw the pain etched on his face following Friday’s event.
"He was tough on himself afterwards; the last couple of weeks [has] been an intense buildup for this event," said Jenny. "He was blessed to walk away with a bronze medal. To look out over the stands and see the state capital, it’s an honor to be at state."
McQuirk had a senior season to be proud of. In addition to posting what is effectively the fastest 2A time in the state in the two mile he hadn’t been topped by another 2A competitor until regionals where he struggled in the one-mile event while dealing with the foot and ankle injury. Top that off with the fact that McQuirk is the defending 2A state champion in cross country and you have a resume` that’s hard to top. In fact, research tells us that McQuirk is the only state champion in the history of Van Alstyne High School. You don’t build that kind of resume` without desire, intensity and talent, all honed for the past four years and witnessed first-hand by those closest to him.
"We have seen him grow tremendously from his freshman year," said Jenny. "He’s devoted to running, and now devoted to running in college."
Indeed, McQuirk will take his talents to Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, Oklahoma, as a scholarship athlete. For now, he’s going to reflect on what it means to be a state-medalist on the biggest stage in high school track and field.
"I’ll be able to savor this experience," said McQuirk before climbing into the stands to accept some well-deserved congratulations. "Just being able to run at the state meet is truly a blessing. I’m so fortunate."