Polk basketball, wrestling squads set to open 2023-24 season

Published 1:00 pm Friday, November 17, 2023

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The winter high school sports season officially arrives this weekend in Polk County.

The Wolverine basketball squads will travel Friday to Avery while Polk County’s wrestling squad will compete Saturday in a tournament at Chase to kick off the 2023-24 campaign.

For the Polk basketball teams, it will be a mixture of old and new making the journey to Newland. The Wolverine varsity boys squad will be led by new head coach Daniel Bradley, with assistant Wesley Jackson also making his coaching debut.

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Seniors Damon Williams, Avery Harden, Khalil Watley and Wayne Carson are part of a group of returnees that also includes sophomores Gunnar Alm and Aaron Jackson.

Carmello Young, Nolan Simpson and Avrey Hensley move up from Polk’s junior varsity program and should see plenty of action. The Wolverines will also welcome senior Lawson Carter, who has rejoined the program after not playing last season.

Familiar faces fill Polk County’s girls varsity squad as head coach Brandy Alm enters her 10th season at Polk County with basically the same roster as last season’s 13-13 squad.

That includes sophomore Bailey Staton, the returning Mountain Foothills 7 Conference Player of the Year, and two-time All-MF7 selection Kylie Lewis.

Polk County also welcomes back senior Brianna Gray and juniors Mia Bradley and Kiki Littlejohn, who returns to action after missing last season due to injury. Sophomores Jayden Duncan and Charley Dusenbury also return.

New varsity faces include senior Bianca Pitts and freshman Cate Brown.

Expectations are high for Polk County’s wrestling squad, which returns a handful of standouts while welcoming a large freshmen class from Polk County Middle’s undefeated team.

Headlining the returnees is senior Jadyn Virgil, who placed sixth in the 2A state tournament a season ago while also winning a Mountain Foothills 7 Conference title.

Three other Wolverines return after finishing second in the conference tourney – sophomores Amon Villarreal, Carson Bell and Zalen McCraw – with Carter Wade and Shatter Johnson back after third-place efforts.

Also part of the roster is junior Jacob Ed, who returns to Polk County after spending the past two seasons at West Henderson. Ed was a Mountain 7 Conference champion last season for the Falcons and finished 35-13 overall.

The roster numbers more than 20 wrestlers, aided by the influx of talented freshmen who could see action from the outset.