Caleb Potter ran three miles in slightly more than 16 minutes Saturday afternoon – and had to wait almost as long to find out if it was good enough for a state championship.
The Polk County senior became just the second Wolverine male in school history to win a state cross country championship, capturing the 1A title by .07 seconds at the Ivey Redmon Complex in Kernersville.
Potter and Lincoln Charter’s Drew Zink tracked down Queens Grant’s Lucas Brown, who led the race for much of the first two miles, then waged a stride-for-stride battle to the finish line. The two basically hit the finish line at the same moment, forcing race officials to review photos of the finish to determine the winner.
Potter officially finished in 16:28.16, with Zink at 16:28.23, to join Neil Waldron (2003) as Polk County state champs. Potter and Zink finished some 12 seconds ahead of the remainder of the field.
“I still don’t know what happened. I’m not going to believe it until I get the trophy,” Potter said shortly after the race. “Me and (assistant coach Dewayne Elliott) walked the course about an hour before the race, and he told me that if I stayed behind Zink and kept five yards away from him the whole race. I’d have a chance in the final 800 meters, so that’s what I did. I made a move in the last 800 and got to his shoulder. In the last 400 he went first, and then I went, and we battled stride for stride and somehow I pulled it out.”
Polk County freshman Olivia Overholt finished 15th in her first state meet with a time of 21:08.58. North Stokes’ Abigail Hemric won the race in 19:34.34.
Zink won last week’s 1A West Regional, where Potter finished fifth. Much as he tracked Zink and caught him late, Potter felt he did the same to the championship field.
“Something I think that helped me was finishing fifth in the region,” Potter said. “No one was expecting anything from me. I didn’t have any pressure on me at all. And being my last race ever, I wanted to give everything I had and not worry about it.
“I’m just happy I ran with him. Last week they didn’t get my best. I’m proud I raced harder.”
Potter also gave credit to the support staff he had with him at the race.
“I want to thank all the people who have been supporting me my entire career, Coach (Alan) Peoples, Dewayne, (former teammates) Mitchell Brown and Sean Doyle,” he said. “Most importantly, I want to thank my mom for being at every single race I’ve been at.”