All-Empire Boys Track: Carrillo’s Polk has Olympic aspirations


Maria Carrillo senior Herbie Polk (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

Maria Carrillo senior Herbie Polk (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

Herbie Polk, the male track All-Empire athlete of the year, has set a lofty goal for himself.

“Right now, I’m working hard to make the U.S. Olympic team for 2016,” the Maria Carrillo graduate responded when asked about his future plans. “If I don’t make it that year, I’ll shoot for 2020.”

Polk’s forte is the 400 meters and it’s that event that earned him the All-Empire top award.

He posted a 47.21 time while finishing second in the NCS Meet of Champions on May 25 at Cal. The time was faster than any runner from the southern half of the state and the fastest by a Sonoma County athlete since 1995, when Rancho Cotate’s Corey Nelson ran a 46.89.

However, that was followed by a 10th-place finish in the state meet where he missed qualifying for the finals by .01.

“I’m still sick about that,” Polk said. “I was too confident in that qualifying heat and didn’t execute.”

Polk was timed in 48.19, nearly a second slower than two weeks earlier in the Meet of Champions.

“I thought I was going to win state,” he said. “My times were coming down and if I improved just a little over the Meet of Champions, it would’ve been good enough to win.”

There was one bright spot to come out of the disappointment.

“I’m a lot more humble now,” he said. “I messed up big time and that’s motivated me to become more serious about my running.”

Today, Polk is taking the first step he hopes will put him on the national radar. He’s in Greensboro, N.C., competing in the USA Junior Olympics.

To get this far, he had to qualify at preliminary meets held this summer at Chabot and Diablo Valley colleges.

Polk’s best times during his senior season were eye-opening as he clipped 3 seconds off the clockings he posted as a junior.

“There were two factors behind my improvement,” the 17-year-old said. “In the preseason, I spent more time lifting weights. Also, credit should go to my coach, Adarian Barr. He help-ed me with my running form.”

Barr drives from Sacramento several times a month to tutor Polk. While he excelled in the 400, Polk enjoyed success in the 100 and 200, and ran the first leg on Carrillo’s 400 and 1,600 relay teams.

Following the Junior Olympics, Polk will return home and attend Santa Rosa JC. He plans to transfer to a four-year school after his freshman year.

“I knocked 3 seconds off my time from my junior to senior year,” he said. “I’m confident I can shave another 3 seconds off.”

If he does that, Polk just might realize his dream and represent his country in the Olympics.


Herbie Polk, Sprinter, Maria Carrillo, Sr.

Ryan Anderson, Distance, Maria Carrillo, Sr.
Connor Celeri, Hurdler, Piner, Jr.
Ryan Douglas, Distance, Petaluma, Sr.
David Forman, Sprinter, Rancho Cotate, Sr.
Dontae Garcia, Jumper, 400, Maria Carrillo, Sr.
Dante Hay, 800, 400, Maria Carrillo, Jr.
Andy Kotval, Vaulter, Windsor, Sr.
Andrew Kozel, Sprinter, Healdsburg, Sr.
Zuhuri Manley, Jumper, Clear Lake, Sr.
Nolan Nagle, Thrower, Cardinal Newman, Sr.
Alex Netherda, Hurdler, Maria Carrillo, So.
Austin Orr, Distance, Sonoma Academy, Sr.
Brycen Poarch, Jumper, Casa Grande, Sr.
Teddy Scranton, Thrower, Petaluma, Sr.
Jaime Silva, Distance, Piner, Sr.
Justin Zinnerman, High jump, Rancho Cotate, So.

Matteo Abreu, Hurdler, St. Helena, Sr.
Tariq Burton, LJ, Relay, Rancho Cotate, Sr.
Alex Duree-Ferris, PV, Sprinter, Healdsburg, Sr.
Alex Graham, Vaulter, Maria Carrillo, Jr.
Paul Holden, 3200, Ukiah, Sr.
Owen Ljung, 800, Sonoma Valley, Jr.
Caleb Lundquist, Thrower, Casa Grande, Jr.
Greg Maggioncalda, Hurdler, Sonoma Valley, Sr.
Juwan Morales, TJ, Sprinter, Rancho Cotate, Jr.
Cristian Nazarek, Distance, Santa Rosa, Sr.
Hugh Pegan, Sprinter, Ukiah, Jr.
Ethan Peterelt, 400, Healdsburg, Jr.
Carlos Portillo, Hurdler, Fort Bragg, Sr.
Devin Ramirez, Vaulter, Santa Rosa, Jr.
Isaiah Roybal, Sprinter, Piner, Jr.
Nolan Sheahan, Hurdler, Cardinal Newman, Sr.

Ian Myers, Maria Carrillo

— Compiled by Jim Crowhurst for The Press Democrat

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