Alan Peoples came into the 2013 season with high hopes for his Polk County boys cross country program. He has not been disappointed.

He wasn’t quite as certain what to expect from his girls squad. He has been pleasantly surprised.

If all goes according to form, both teams could be conference champions by Wednesday evening as Polk County begins its postseason schedule with the Western Highlands Conference meet at Jackson Park in Hendersonville. Races begin at 4 p.m.

Much as last season, Peoples expects the boys race to come down to three teams – Polk, Mitchell and Hendersonville. Mitchell won last year’s meet, with Polk the runner-up. A solid nucleus of returnees from that squad who have performed well this season could mean a winner’s trophy heading back to Columbus.

“If you go by raw scores, based on what we’ve done this year, we’re the favorite to win (the conference meet), with Hendersonville second,” Peoples said. “Mitchell will be one of the stronger teams again as well.”

Senior Jacob Collins and sophomore Sean Doyle each ran personal bests in Polk’s last race, the Greensboro Invitational, with Collins running a 16:36 and Doyle a 16:44. Jacob Wolfe, Jake Russell and Eli Hall lead a deep Polk squad.

One concern, Peoples said, is the health of Daniel Painter, who has been battling a leg injury and could miss Wednesday’s race.

In the girls race, Peoples also has high expectations.

“I think this team is going to win the conference,” Peoples said. “At the beginning of the year, I didn’t expect us to do this well because I didn’t think we would have enough girls out. What I didn’t know was that we were going to pick up two or three girls who have been very, very good.”

Senior Shea Wheeler, as expected, has been one of the team leaders this season. She has gotten help from Hayley Kropp, Britain Hamrick, Leah Harding and others.

Others, of course, including freshman India Godlock, the niece of Polk Country great Karen Godlock and one of the emerging standouts in the area. In that Greensboro meet, Godlock ran a personal best 20:02, and hopes are that she can break the 20-minute mark on Wednesday.

“I really think India can win the conference meet, hands down,” Peoples said. “She has developed much faster this year than we expected.”