MORGANTON – The math? Simple. The challenge it offered? Not so easy.
One event, the 4×400-meter relay, remained at Friday’s 2A West Regional track and field meet and Polk County coaches were busy checking the team standings. R-S Central had already easily won the girls title, but the Wolverines were in the midst of a dogfight for second.
The tightest of fights, it emerged, as coaches checked the standings. Polk County sat a half-point ahead of Pine Lake Prep, with both teams entered in that final relay. Thus the easy portion of the calculations – the team that finished ahead of the other in the relay would also be the regional runner-up.
The potential problem for Polk – Pine Lake Prep had the fastest time entering the event by more than nine seconds.
“Woah,” a Polk County coach muttered in learning that fact.
The Wolverines were also without usual leadoff runner Karsyn Huskey, sidelined by an injury. But senior Lindsey Jenkins joined the quartet and helped Polk County outrace Pine Lake by a second, securing the runner-up team finish for the Wolverine girls.
The result capped a stellar day for Polk, which qualified athletes in nine events for next week’s 2A state championships in Greensboro. Heading the contingent, to no one’s surprise, will be senior Olivia Overholt.
The Lenoir-Rhyne signee ran away with the 800-meter title, took third in the long jump and anchored Polk victories in the 4×400 and 4×800 relays. Lenoir-Rhyne assistant track and field coach Odell Williams served as the meet director Friday – if he had time to watch his incoming athlete, no doubt he did so with a smile.
“Any time you start the day with a relay win and end with a relay win, it’s a great day,” Overholt said. “A perfect day was everyone running (personal-best times). I’m super excited for state.”
Younger sister Sophia Overholt finished second in the long jump, third in the 400 meters and ran the opening leg (Karsyn Huskey’s usual spot) of the dramatic 4×400. She handed off to senior Kinsley Huskey, who in turn delivered a slight lead to Jenkins.
The Mars Hill signee dropped a few meters behind Pine Lake Prep’s third runner early in her leg. But Jenkins calmly stuck to her pace and reeled in the leader, reaching Overholt a couple of strides in front.
Pine Lake’s anchor, Rylee Hegedus, surged to Overholt’s shoulder, and the two came off the final turn side by side. But with the crowd at East Burke High School on its feet and roaring, Overholt pulled away in the final 50 meters, clinching the race win and regional runner-up finish.
Huskey and Jenkins, along with Tori Thompson, were also part of the 4×800 relay team that easily won the day’s first race, and Jenkins took fourth in the 800-meter run to qualify for the state meet in a third event (top four in each event advance). She’ll have plenty of company on the bus ride to North Carolina A&T State University.
Amya Cunningham raced to a second-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles. Mia Bradley soared to third place in the high jump, with Lauren Dotson doing the same in the pole vault.
Sophia Overholt took fifth in the 200, and Thompson, whose third leg in the 4×800 gave Polk a wide lead before the final leg, grabbed fifth in the pole vault.
There were also outstanding efforts from qualifiers Avia Cunningham in the shot and discus, Kayla Kitchen in the 1600 meters, DeAsia Green in the long jump and McKenna Morris in the triple jump.