You can usually get a good read on how well Polk County’s track teams performed by the number of times head coach Alan Peoples uses “very” before “good day” in talking about a meet.

Take Peoples’ description of Thursday’s Western Highlands Conference Track and Field Championships at G.M. Tennant Stadium, for example.

“It was a very, very, very good day,” Peoples said.


The Wolverines swept the WHC meet for the second straight year, topping Owen in both the girls and boys competitions on a near-perfect afternoon.

There were many Polk County performances to celebrate, and then there was Jake Justice’s day.

The Wolverine senior made his final meet at W.J. Miller Field one to remember, winning four individual events and setting a school record in the triple jump with a mark of 42-6. That broke Tyler Landrum’s mark set in 1998 and gave Justice his third school record (he holds the pole vault and long jump marks).

Justice won the pole vault, his speciality, as well as the long jump and 300-meter hurdles.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a boy win four individual events,” Peoples said.

Justice was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Field Performer, with Owen’s Shavoy Harding winning the track award. Owen’s Chesney Gardner, named the NCHSAA Female Athlete of the Year earlier in the day in Raleigh, raced back to Polk and won the discus and shot put to earn Most Valuable Field honors for the girls.

Polk County’s Olivia Overholt picked up the Most Valuable Track award for the girls, with the freshman winning the 800 and 1600 and helping the Wolverines win two relay races. Peoples was named the conference’s coach of the year for both boys and girls.

Just as important to Polk County’s team championship was the effort of Marissa Twitty, who Peoples said battled the flu all week. Twitty attended class earlier in the day, enough to be able to compete in the meet, and placed second in the long jump and third in the 400 meters before returning home. Twitty earned 14 points, which also equalled the team’s winning margin.

Polk County’s Emmie McDowell swept the 100 and 300-meter hurdles races

More standouts:

  • Emmie McDowell won both the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles
  • Tana Harris won the pole vault with a mark of 7-6, matching the regional qualifying mark
  • Mariah Overholt won the conference crown in the long jump as the Wolverines finished 1-2-3 (with Anna McFadden in third)
  • Izzy Jackson winning the 400 meters to lead another 1-2-3 sweep (followed by Mariah Overholt and Twitty)
  • Luke Sellers winning both the shot and discus
  • A 1-2-3 sweep in the 800 meters for the boys as Jack Derkach returned from an injury to finish ahead of teammates Braxton Edwards and Caleb Potter
  • Potter captured the 1600 and 3200-meter runs, dominating both events
  • Key second-place efforts for Polk County in the triple jump (Grant Wooten), high jump (Gaige Lewis), 400 meters (Jordan Bishop) and 200 meters (Mitchell Yoder).

The Wolverines will now turn their focus to the 1A West Regional, set for May 11 at Lenoir-Rhyne University.

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