Polk County’s wrestling team will travel Thursday to the Western Highlands Conference tournament at Madison.

The Wolverine baseball teams, meanwhile, will trek to Bakersville to face Mountain Heritage.

The end of those events will also mark the end of a 16-year journey for Polk County High School athletics.

Thursday’s action will mark the final official WHC encounters for Polk County, which will join a new 2A conference beginning with the 2021-22 academic year. Though postseason action remains this season for Polk County athletes, none of those will be WHC-only events.

Polk County joined the Western Highlands in 2005 after spending the previous four seasons in the Southern Foothills Conference. The 2005-06 WHC looked much as it does now, with the six current members plus Hendersonville comprising the league.

It didn’t take long for Polk County fans to learn about the road trips to the mountains, to become familiar with the best paths to Bakersville and Burnsville and Marshall and Newland. The Wolverines waged wars with the Warhorses and tussled with their longtime Bearcat rivals until Hendersonville left the league in 2017.

All of that comes to an end Thursday. This fall, Polk County will reunite with Hendersonville as part of a conference that includes Brevard, Chase, East Rutherford, Patton and R-S Central. The remaining WHC schools will welcome Rosman and Draughn into their ranks.

The new conference will be the fifth home for Polk County teams in school history. The Wolverines have only once spent more than four seasons in a conference, that being the Western Highlands.