Despite injuries and illnesses, Polk County High’s cross country teams had respectable team finishes Tuesday at the Shelby High School Cross Country Invitational. Hot, humid and hilly, the 5K course served the Wolverines a grueling workout. This time of year coaches look for marked improvements over the first couple weeks of the season, but hilly, wet terrain can put personal records on the back burner.

The Wolverines competed in three events – Men’s JV and Men’s and Women’s Open.  The Polk squads would be led by three individuals who took first-place team positions for the first time this season.  Jake Russell (21:16) was the first Wolverine to cross the line in the JV race, placing third overall.  Mitchell Brown (19:06) took to the hills like a champ in the Men’s Open race, placing 8th overall and first for the Wolverines. Caleb Brown (19:25), Sean Doyle (19:30), Jacob Wolfe (20:03),  Eli Hall (20:52) were the top five scorers for the Wolverines.  Other Polk competitors: Al Russell (21:00) and Mark Federman (21:06). Connor Holtz (23:45), and Luke Collins (31:00) competed in the Men’s JV.

Defending state champion Blanton Gillespie of Shelby won the Men’s Open event with a time of 18:09.10.

The Lady Wolverines were paced by Emily Kocher (23:03), who earned the top spot for the Lady Wolverines and placed fifth overall in the Women’s Open as the team raced without three of its top five competitors.  Selena Chavez (25:35), Haley Fowler (26:08), Ashton Capozzi (26:32) and Shelby Wells (27:13) rounded out the top five scoring effort for Polk.  Also competing for the Wolverines: Leah Hardin (28:17), Alli Swope (28:37), Karli Wood (29:04), Sophie Young (29:13), Colleen Burke (30:39) and Jessica Bailey (34:28).

East Lincoln standout Frances Massey won the event in 20:50.80.

Boys team leaders: 1, Landrum 65; 2, Polk County 78; 3, Forestview 83; 4, Shelby 109; 5, Freedom 129.

Girls team leaders: 1, East Lincoln 45; 2, Landrum 78; 3, West Lincoln 102; 4, Polk County 112; Shelby 131.

The Wolverines hope to post strong performances at Freedom High in Morganton Saturday, September 20 and RS Central Wednesday, September 24.