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Polk County's Olivia Overholt, left, and Caleb Potter will compete in Saturday's 1A state cross country championship meet

Cross Country

Podium the prize for Potter, Overholt at state 1A cross country meet

It’s the one run Caleb Potter has wanted to take his entire high school career

It’s the one run Caleb Potter has wanted to take his entire high school career.

It’s the reason he ran miles upon miles in the summer, even on the most searing of days. All those miles with one goal in mind – a trip to the state 1A cross county meet.

The Polk County senior made that wish come true last week with a fifth-place effort in the 1A West Regional. Now he has a different goal in mind for Saturday’s state championship meet at Ivey M. Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville.

It’s a goal shared by teammate Olivia Overholt, the Polk freshman who will compete in the girls championship meet.

Both have their eye on a top-10 finish, which would place them on the post-match podium and earn a spot on the all-state squad.

“This is what I’ve dreamed of since my freshman year,” Potter said. “I watched Sean Doyle qualify and I’ve wanted to be faster than him ever since.

“I get one more chance to go against all the best runners. I want to go down there and prove they can’t beat me. I think if I race well, I can have as good a chance as anyone. There’s not going to be any pressure on me.”

Overholt also doesn’t expect to feel much pressure when she takes part in her first state meet. It’s been a whirlwind fall for the Wolverine freshman, who has gone from middle school champion to state qualifier in a year.

“I wasn’t expecting to do this well, since I’m a freshman,” Overholt admitted. “I thought I would be starting back down and expected to work my way up and take a little longer.”

Overholt, who finished sixth in the West regional meet, has only been running cross country for two years.

“In seventh grade, I started running just because I wanted to try it,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to love it, but I do.

“I want to just try to get into the top 10, to run my best and give it my all.”

Polk County head coach Alan Peoples thinks a podium finish is a realistic outcome for both runners. He’s especially eager to see if Potter can become the program’s first all-state cross country performer since John Spencer Wolfe earned that honor in 2009.

“He’s seeded seventh, so he’s got a good shot,” Peoples said. “He averaged 40 to 50 miles most weeks all summer. He’s worked hard for it.

“Olivia is seeded around 12th or 13th and she’s got a good shot to make the top 10 as well.”

Overholt will have three more shots at a podium in the years ahead. For Potter, it’s his final opportunity, and he plans to make the most of it.

“I expect to go to state and just be the best I can,” he said. “That’s what I tried to do all summer.”

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