GREENSBORO – Olivia Overholt left her first state track and field championship with two medals around her neck, a third podium finish and nearly a comeback for the ages.
The Polk County freshman joined with three other Wolverines to win the state championship in the 4×400-meter relay as well as earn a runner-up spot in the 4×800 relay. Overholt also placed fourth in the 800-meter run, joining Jake Justice as the only Wolverines to earn podium finishes as individual competitors.
Overholt also qualified in the 1600-meter run, but opted to step off the track just after that race began to take a break from the 90-degree-plus heat that took a toll on all competitors at Irwin Belk Track.
Overholt, her sister Mariah, fellow freshman Tori Thompson and senior Izzy Jackson began the day competing in the 4×800, a race in which Polk entered with the fastest qualifying time.
Franklin Academy, though, took command of the race from the outset, steadily increasing the lead with every lap. By the time Overholt took the baton to start the anchor leg, Polk trailed Franklin by 16 seconds and Lincoln Charter’s team by four.
Overholt steadily began cutting into the lead, but still trailed Franklin’s Laurel Lapish by several seconds as the final lap of the race began. Overholt began closing more quickly going down the backstretch, and cut the lead to just a few feet as the two came off the final turn.
Overholt finally got to Lapish’s shoulder in the final 30-40 meters, but the effort took all the energy she had, and she collapsed and fell a few feet from the finish line. She still managed to have the presence of mind to stand and cross to secure second place for Polk.
“I gave it all I had,” Overholt said. “I knew I could get close. I just ran out of everything at the end. My legs just came out from under me. I hoped I would fall across the finish line because I was so close.”
Skipping the 1600 helped Overholt regroup for the 800, and she stayed with the main pack throughout the race. Reseach Triangle’s Victoria Swepson pulled away early and maintained that lead to take the win in 2:18.84, with Highland Tech’s Lauren Tolbert in second. Overholt narrowly took fourth behind Highland Tech’s Brooklyn Pierce, running 2:24.53 to Pierece’s 2:22.43.
“My goal was to go out and try to get a PR (personal record),” Overholt said. “I wanted to try to win, but I wanted a PR (which she did by more than three seconds).”
Overholt capped her day by joining her older sister, Jackson and Marissa Twitty in winning the 4×400. That brought a welcome end to the eight-hour meet in the brutal sun.
“It was pretty bad,” Overholt said of the heat. “I’ve never run with it this hot before.”