Talent, friendship lead Potter, Derkach to Montreat College

Best friends. High school track and field teammates.

And soon-to-be college roommates and track and field teammates.

Such is the case now for Polk County seniors Caleb Potter and Jack Derkach, who each made their commitments to Montreat College official on Tuesday during a ceremony in the school auditorium.

Potter, the 2019 state 1A cross country champion, will run cross country and track for the Cavaliers. Derkach will join the Montreat track program, focusing on the 800-meter run.

Both runners are overjoyed about the opportunity.

“I never thought I would have a chance like this,” Potter said. “I didn’t think I would be fast enough. Someone gave me a chance, and now I’m going to look to do the best I can do. I want to show them that they’re putting their faith in someone who is going to work hard for them.”

“I really didn’t know if I wanted to go to a small school or a large school,” Derkach said. “Once I went there and I toured the campus and I met Coach (Jason) Lewkowicz, and seeing the facilities and seeing the school, it was an easy decision. I think I’ve got a lot more left in me and I’m not ready to give up running.”

Both Potter, who plans to study exercise science with hopes of becoming a physical therapist, and Derkach, who is leaning toward an international business degree, said the chance to continue competing together made the Montreat opportunity more meaningful.

Polk County’s Caleb Potter, left, and Jack Derkach competed against each other Tuesday in the 800-meter run at the Tony Waldrop Invitational

“(Potter) is my best friend and has been for a while,” Derkach said. “We talked about it in practice, and Coach (Dewayne) Elliott jokes that we can’t run without each other. He pushes me more than anybody. Caleb pushes me to be a better runner, a better person and a better student. It’s hard to find that. To get to do that four more years and have that experience in college, you can’t ask for more than that.”

“He’s been my best friend since seventh grade,” Potter said. “We both push each other in practice and now we can keep pushing each other for the next four years.”

The two seniors aren’t quite ready for college yet, though, as the outdoor track and field season awaits. And while it’s been a dream senior year for Potter, with a state championship and a chance to run in college, he’s got one more goal in mind.

“The cherry on top will be repeating as outdoor state champions,” he said.