When Western Highlands Conference cross country teams ran last week at Jackson Park in Hendersonville, Polk County head coach Alan Peoples noticed a common trait among many of the runners.
Most of them weren’t quite tackling the 5K course at full speed.
No one, it seems, wanted to show their cards until Wednesday’s WHC meet on the same Jackson Park course. The boys race begins at 4:30 p.m., the girls at 5 p.m.
Polk County enters as the two-time defending champion in each event, and Peoples expects to bring back at least one more trophy this year.
“Based on seeds, we’re only four points behind with the boys and I think we’ll make those up,” Peoples said. “I think we’ve got a shot at placing three in the top five.
“In the girls, we’re seeded third, and we’re probably going to be second or third. Two wins would be great, but if we can get a first and a second, I’d be quite satisfied with that.”
The Wolverines also have a very good shot at individual titles in both races. Sean Doyle has had an excellent fall season and is the favorite to win the boys race, with teammates Jacob Wolfe and Mitchell Brown expected to be in the top pack as well. For Wolfe, who has been recovering from an early-season illness, it will mark just his third race of the season.
“Up until now we’ve told him not to push hard,” Peoples said. “Now that we’ve reached conference and then regionals, it’s time to go.”
With two runners lost to injuries for the season, including all-conference senior Hayley Kropp, the Polk girls have been led this fall by junior India Godlock, the favorite in the girls race. Freshman Mariah Overholt has emerged as a top-10 threat and possible all-conference runner.
“She’s done what we expected,” Peoples said of Overholt. “We’ve convinced her that she could run as our number two runner.”