Polk County Middle’s Jessie Bradley crosses the finish line to win Tuesday’s race

Cold, wind, foes fail to best Polk Middle girls in season-opening victory

The cold, the wind and Polk County Middle’s girls cross country team – the three things everyone gathered Tuesday at Utz Field left talking about.

A chilly, blustery afternoon proved a winning one for the Wolverines as the Polk girls defeated Apple Valley and Flat Rock on a hilly jaunt around the PCMS campus and Polk County Recreation Complex. It marked the first race of the season for all three teams.

Polk’s Jessie Bradley led the way for the Wolverines, winning the girls race, with three teammates placing in the top eight.

Photos: Polk County Middle opening meet

Polk Middle’s boys team placed third, with Jasper Nespeca cracking the top 15 to pace the Wolverine effort.

The race course began on Utz Field, circled around the PCMS campus, then back across Utz Field before moving into the woods behind the school. Runners then came out of the woods and down a large hill into the baseball fields area of the Recreation Complex, winding through the complex before climbing a large hill back onto the PCMS campus and the sprint back to Utz Field and the finish line.

Bradley came out of the woods in second place, but moved into the lead while in the fields area and maintained a healthy gap over runner-up Sophia Williams of Apple Valley, her winning time of 15:20.40 some 17 seconds ahead of Williams.

Isabella Gates placed third for Polk, with Essie Mitchell in sixth and Heaven Villareal taking eight. Gabby Savaia, Elizabeth Vitale and Sarah Vitale also competed for the Wolverines.

“We have new and young talent. I am anticipating this team to be very successful moving forward,” said Polk Middle head coach Katie Elliott. “They are motivated and hard working.

“The girls’ win (Tuesday) just confirmed what I have been seeing at practice since the beginning of the season and that is that I have some amazing athletes this year.”

Nespeca’s time of 16:12.55 paced Polk, with Efrain Rivera, Tallis Metcalf and Max Malan the remaining finishes for the Wolverines.

Polk Middle is slated to travel next Monday to Flat Rock for another Blue Ridge Conference meet.

GIRLS
Team Scores
1. Polk County Middle 29; 2. Apple Valley Middle 44; 3. Flat Rock Middle 53.

Polk Middle finishers
1. Jessie Bradley, 15:20.40; 3. Isabella Gates, 15:7.08; 6. Essie Mitchell, 16:43.23; 9. Heaven Villareal, 16:48.99; 11. Gabby Savaia, 17:35.32; 14. Elizabeth Vitale, 18:41.21; 15. Sarah Vitale, 19:16.22

BOYS
1. Apple Valley Middle 26; 2. Flat Rock Middle 31; 3. Polk County Middle 84.

Polk Middle finishers
14. Jasper Nespeca, 16:12.55; 16. Efrain Rivera, 18:42.92; 17. Tallis Metcalf, 18:47.64; 18. Max Malan, 18:51.81