Alan Peoples is already counting points for the Western Highlands Conference cross country meet.
And already liking what he sees.
Polk County may be one meet into its 2015 cross country schedule, but Peoples and the Wolverines are already focusing on a conference three-peat for both the girls programs. Despite graduation losses on both teams, there’s still plenty of reason to think both teams could earn a third straight WHC title at the conference meet in October.
“Our goal is the same thing we’ve had the last two years, a championship,” Peoples said. “Right now, the boys are seeded second and the girls are seeded third, based on what they’ve done so far. But we’re just six points out of first in the boys.”
Three of the top runners on the two teams ran in Saturday’s Eye Opener Invitational in Spartanburg. Senior Sean Doyle, who won the season-opening Western North Carolina Cross Country Carnival in Hendersonville, placed 22nd in a field of 185 in the Eye Opener with a time of 16:47.54. Fellow senior Mitchell Brown turned in a time of 18:14.84.
Junior India Godlock competed in the girls race and also placed 22nd with a time of 19:59.66.
Doyle and Brown head a boys team that hopes to have one more senior, Jacob Wolfe, back later this season, Wolfe currently sidelined with an illness. Freshman Caleb Potter has looked strong thus far – “he could be the surprise of the season,” Peoples said – with Conner Holtz, Emmett Zacharias and Luke Collins also in the mix for the Wolverines’ top five slots.
On the girls side, Godlock heads a group that Peoples said is currently about nine points out of the top spot. Freshman Mariah Overholt was the team’s second runner at the WNC meet, followed by Haven Dufford, Leah Hardin and Emma Wagoner. Also expected to contribute are Savannah Robbins and Danielle Holtz, two seniors among a large contingent of team members.
Peoples expects Hendersonville to be the Wolverines’ top challenge in the boys race, with Hendersonville and Owen the top threats in the girls class.
The teams will face another test on Friday, traveling to Kernersville for the Friday Night Lights Invitational. The meet will be held on the course used for the state championship meet.
“It’s going to be very cool,” Peoples said. “It’s the state race course, which is one reason we’re going, and they’re going to light it up. They’ll run races at 8, 8:30, 9 and 9:30.”