A knowing smile crosses the face of Polk County head track and field coach Alan Peoples when talking about Friday’s state 2A championships.
The Wolverines will roll into the state meet with 11 athletes and several very good chances at podium-worthy finishes. Four Polk County entries are seeded in the top four in the events, with three more just below that level.
It all means that Polk County has quite an opportunity to say farewell to the 2A ranks – this will be the school’s final official 2A athletic event before dropping to 1A next season – when the state meet begins at 10 a.m. on the track of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro.
“People probably are surprised at the numbers we have going,” Peoples said. “We lost a lot of excellent kids last year. But we knew we had a lot of excellent kids in the wings.
“We have a chance at scoring in every event that we’re going in, some better than others. One thing that will help, particularly for our higher seeds, is that their event is the only thing they’re doing.”
The Wolverine contingent has a youthful feel, with just three seniors among the 11 qualifiers.
Polk County’s six super sophomores include Izzy Jackson, who enters the 400-meter run as the second seed and will also run with the Wolverines’ 4×400-meter relay team. Another sophomore, Mariah Overholt, will also be part of the relay team and 400 meters and also qualified in the long jump.
“Izzy is going to be phenomenal,” Peoples said. “She’s run the 100, 200, 400, 4×4, 4×1 and 4×2 for us this year at different times. Right behind her is another sophomore, Mariah, who has done the 100, 200, 400, 4×4 and 4×8 this year. We’re looking really good for the future there.”
Senior Marissa Longshore is the sixth seed in the long jump, where she set a school record in Saturday’s 2A West Regional, while senior India Godlock is seeded sixth in the 800-meter run. Juniors Reagan Waddell (shot put) and Lauren Ketwitz (pole vault) will also compete.
Jackson, Longshore, Godlock and Sadie Allen enter as the third seed in the 4×400-meter relay.
Senior Troy Lieberman enters as the co-top seed with Surry Central’s Tyler Fitzgerald, who edged Lieberman in the event earlier this year at the state indoor championships. Sophomore Jake Justice is the fourth seed in the pole vault and also is seeded 12th in the long jump.
Sophomores Caleb Potter (1600 meters) and Jack Derkach (800 meters) round out the Wolverine entries.