india-regionThere hasn’t been a state cross country or track championship meet held without a Polk County runner present since the school opened in 1989, Wolverine head coach Alan Peoples proudly notes.

And while the three Polk County runners qualified for this year’s cross country state championship meet are glad to have continued that tradition, merely being in Saturday’s races at Ivey M. Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville isn’t enough.

“Our goal is to get all three of them all-state,” Peoples said. “Of course, that’s a lot easier said than done.”

The top 10 finishers in Saturday’s 2A cross country state championships will earn all-state honors, and there’s certainly a chance that boys runners Jacob Collins and Sean Doyle and girls competitor India Godlock could each be in that group. Which is why the three were hard at work Wednesday at Harmon Field, spending the brilliant fall afternoon on a training run while gearing up for the state meet.

Saturday’s trip will be a return appearance for both Collins and Doyle, who each competed in last year’s state meet. But this year’s trip will have a different feel as the Wolverines just missed qualifying their entire time for the state final, finishing one spot away from a qualifying berth in last weekend’s regional meet in Morganton.

“It’s definitely going to be different not having the team there,” said Doyle, a sophomore. “It’s just us, and we’re used to everyone being there. But we’re going to try to do the best we can.

“We had hoped to get everyone there again. But we won the conference, and that was definitely a big goal for us.”

The Wolverines ran in what most consider the toughest of the state’s four regional meets. Sixteen teams qualified for the state meet, and the Wolverines actually had the 10th best regional team performance. Unfortunately, four of the teams who fared better were in Polk’s regional and qualified for the state team berths. The Polk girls were in a similar situation, with the 15th best overall regional performance.

Both Wolfe and Collins ran regional times among the top 20 from all four regions, but both say they’re more focused on just delivering their best performance Saturday and not worrying about specific times. That’s especially true for Collins, a senior who will be running his final cross country race in Polk County colors.

“That makes me want to focus harder and run to the best of my ability,” Collins said. “I want to run a good race and stay with the leaders. I’m not going to worry about times. I’m just going to go out and race.”

Peoples, though, does have times in mind for all three competitors.

“Jacob, his goal is to get under 16:20,” said the veteran coach. “This is his favorite course that we’re going to, and if he can run consistently like he’s been doing I think he can run under 16:20.

“I think Sean would like to be under 16:40. He’d really like to be under 16:30. India, I’d love to see her in the 19s. She’s been close, running 20:02 and 20:01.”

Godlock, a soft-spoken freshman who won the Western Highlands Conferernce meet, began running in the seventh grade to “help me stay in shape.” Now she finds herself representing Polk’s girls program in her first state competition, though she admits it will be different running without her teammates present.

“I think it’s going to make me feel awkward,” Godlock said. “I’m excited and nervous.”

The runners will have the benefit of a fairly flat course at Redmon Sports Complex.

“It’s probably one of the two easiest courses we’ve run this year,” Peoples said. “Fletcher was the easiest. That was a fast course. This course is fairly fast as well.”