Sean Doyle was the last runner on the track in the final event at Saturday’s 2A West Regional track and field meet, an odd sight for the Polk County senior who was at or near the front of every other race he ran.
Doyle won one regional title, helped Polk County’s relay team win another and added a second place in a third event to lead a solid showing by the Wolverines in the 2A regional meet held at Wolverine Stadium.
The Polk County girls placed third overall and the Wolverine boys fourth on a sunny, windy day in which a number of Polk athletes qualified for next Saturday’s state 2A championship meet at North Carolina A&T. Some 26 schools and nearly 500 athletes took part in the meet.
“We had some great times, and some times that didn’t work out as well,” said Polk County head track and field coach Alan Peoples. “One thing, though, was that everybody on all teams did well.
“This caps a great year. We had a lot of (regional) qualifiers, we won the conference for the fourth year in a row and we were in the top three or four at the regional. That bodes well for state.”
Doyle and his 4×800-meter relay teammates opened the day by continuing their dominance in an event in which Polk is the defending state champion. Mitchell Brown battled through traffic to keep the Wolverines near the front in the opening leg before Nate Smart and Jacob Wolfe put Polk almost five seconds ahead before turning the baton over to Doyle. Polk won the race in 8:22.33.
Doyle then placed a close second to Brevard’s Noah Graham in the 1600 meters, Graham surging ahead on the last lap before Doyle slowed a bit to conserve energy. Doyle them came back less than 30 minutes later to top Graham in the 800.
“I thought I had a great day,” Doyle said. “I couldn’t ask for much better. We won the 4×800, which has become our signature event, I qualified in the mile and I won the 800. It was a good day.”
Polk senior Emma Wagoner qualified for the state meet in three events, placing second in the triple jump by a half-inch behind Franklin’s Kennedy Conner and helping lead the Polk 4×800 and 4×400-meter relay teams to second-place finishes. Junior India Godlock also earned three state berths, taking part in both relay teams and finishing third in the 1600 meters.
The Wolverine 4×8 team, comprised of Savannah Robbins, Mariah Overholt, Wagoner and Godlock, ran a 10:00.24 and were less than four seconds away from the oldest school record in Polk’s girls program, the 9:56.38 time set in 1991 by a group that included current assistant coach Jenny Wolfe.
Overholt and fellow freshman Izzy Jackson both qualified in the 400 meters, with another freshman, Jake Justice, qualifying in the pole vault.
“The 4×8 girls probably ran the second fastest time in school history,” Peoples said.
“Polk, they stepped it up today. They really did. As the saying goes, it was a great day to be a Wolverine.”
Athletes and relay teams had to place in the top four in an event to qualify for the state meet. Polk County qualifiers included:
Shot put: Micheala Nelon, 4th, 34-8.5, new school record (breaking her own mark of 34-8 set in April)
Long jump: Marissa Longshore, 4th, 15-9
Triple jump: Emma Wagoner, 2nd, 33-2
4×800-meter relay: Polk County, 2nd, 10:00.24
1600 meters: India Godlock, 3rd, 5:34.56
400 meters: Izzy Jackson, 2nd, 1:01.39; Mariah Overholt, 3rd, 1:02.32
4×400-meter relay: Polk County, 2nd, 4:18.00
Pole vault: Troy Lieberman, 2nd, 13-0; Jake Justice, 3rd, 12-6
4×800-meter relay: Polk County, 1st, 8:22.33
1600 meters: Sean Doyle, 2nd, 4:27.74
800 meters: Sean Doyle, 1st, 2:01.68