Polk County’s small contingent of qualifiers for Friday’s state 1A Track and Field Championships did some big things.
Every Wolverine who competed in the morning meet at North Carolina A&T State University delivered a top-eight performance, also earning team points for that finish. That enabled the Wolverine boys to place seventh overall and the Polk girls finish 14th overall in the team competition.
Headlining the day for Polk County was junior Harrison Waddell, who captured the state championship in the shot put. Waddell’s throw of 49-2 easily topped that of runner-up Jake McTaggart of Hayesville, who had a best throw of 46-10.
Waddell is only the second Polk County athlete to win an outdoor state championship in the shot, matching Regis Bittle, who accomplished that in 2007 and 2008. Waddell also joins Bittle, John Spencer Wolfe and Jake Justice as the only Wolverine male athletes to win outdor individual state titles.
Waddell placed fourth in the discus, earning a podium finish and a medal.
One other athlete, Olivia Overholt, also earned two medals. The Polk County junior placed second in both the 800 and 1600-meter runs to grab silver medals in each.
Overholt’s first race of the day, the 1600, saw Research Triangle’s Victoria Swepson and Riverside’s Briley Bickerstaff set the early pace. The duo began the final lap in the top two spots, with Overholt in third. But Overholt made a charge reminiscent of her anchor leg two years ago in the 4×800-meter relay, sprinting past Bickerstaff in the final turn and holding off Research Triangle’s McCarthy Hudson to take second.
Swepson won the race in 5:23.84. Overholt finished in 5:28.27, but her final 400-meter split of 1:15.81 was the fastest 400 meters of anyone in the race.
Overholt and Highland Tech’s Lauren Tolbert pulled away to an early gap in the 800-meter run and kept the field behind them the entire race. Overholt finished the first lap of the race less than a second behind Tolbert, but Tolbert began to pull away on the backstretch and won the race with a time of 2:22.86, Overholt just behind in 2:24.78.
Alana Jergenson added to Polk’s day with a sixth-place showing in the discus and Tori Thompson placed eighth in the pole vault for the Wolverine girls.
Polk’s Braxton Edwards had the other podium of the day for the Wolverine boys, placing third in the pole vault with a jump of 11-0. Swain’s Matthew Gray won that competition with a leap of 14-0.
Edwards then moved to the track and took sixth place in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:04.31.
Polk’s 4×100-meter relay team of Elijah Barnes, Gage McSwain, Shaq Wingo, Vincent Twitty placed seventh with a time of 46.36. McSwain, running the anchor leg, led the first heat of the day when he suffered a pulled hamstring in the final few meters of the race. That forced the Wolverine senior to drop out of the 200-meter run.