Even a season-ending knee injury on the football field couldn’t slow down Somerset’s John Wright Polk.

The Briar Jumper senior, after a dominating spring on the tennis court, a superb senior season this fall on the soccer field, and an All-State type performance on the gridiron, before suffering that knee injury late in the year as Somerset’s place kicker and punter, has been chosen as the Commonwealth Journal’s Male Athlete of the Year for 2006.

“I was surprised when I was first told that I was getting this award, and I really appreciate it,” stated Polk.

As far as the disappointing knee injury goes, suffered against Cumberland in the first round of the Class A football playoffs, Polk says he’s been able to bounce back from that setback, that deprived him of the opportunity of playing in Somerset’s run toward a state title.

That knee injury, a torn ACL, MCL, and meniscus to his right knee, sidelined Polk for the remainder of Somerset’s season, and he says he had a hard time bouncing back from that injury, from a mental standpoint in the days that soon followed.

“At the very beginning it was very hard, and it hit me the hardest about a week after it happened, when I was sitting around at home and didn’t really have much to do,” continued Polk. “Now, I’ve gotten past it, and I’m looking forward to the future and getting into rehab. I really want to kick in college, so I’m working toward that as of now.”

When you talk about a great athlete that excels at almost any sport they play, then you’re talking about John Wright Polk.

Last spring, Polk was the leader on a Briar Jumper tennis squad, playing as Somerset’s number one singles player, advancing all the way to the third round of the regional tournament.

On the soccer field this fall, Polk had an outstanding senior season, notching 14 goals and dishing out 14 assists, helping Steve Wallace’s club to a district championship, and a runner-up finish to Danville in the regional tourney.

On the football field, Polk was every bit as impressive.

The SHS senior made 47 of his 48 extra point attempts, while making 3 of 8 field goals on the season, which included a long of 45 yards.

In short, no matter the sport, John Wright Polk’s star continued to shine.

And, Polk accomplished all of these feats by doing them the right way, in the most classiest of manner, because Polk is just that, a class act, both on and off the field.

“I might be ready to go about the time for tennis to start next spring, but I’m not sure all of my muscles will be ready, and I don’t want to chance it,” Polk said. “So, I think I’m just going to take it easy, because my main goal right now, is to be able to kick and play football in college.”

As for his college choices right now, the two schools that have shown the most interest in Polk as a kicker is Western Kentucky University and Vanderbilt.

“I really like Western, but right now, it’s just too soon to think about it,” stated Polk. “I’m getting ready to go in for surgery, and I’m going to work really hard during rehab, and hopefully, my right knee will come back even stronger than it was before the injury.”

So John, now that the initial shock of the injury is behind you, do you think when you come through the other side of rehab, you will be a changed person?

Polk says the answer to that question is a definite yes.

“I think I’m going to be a stronger person as a result of this,” said Polk. “When it first happened, everything’s gone just like that, but I’ve already started working to get my leg stronger before I have surgery. After surgery, I’ll work even harder, and I don’t think I’ll ever take it for granted again. Hopefully, when I get to college, I’ll be even better and be a stronger kicker than I was in high school.”

If that’s indeed the case, then John Wright Polk is going to make somebody out there an outstanding kicker down the road.

More importantly however, John Wright Polk will make somebody an outstanding student athlete, because when it comes to the game of like, this SHS senior finishes second to no one.

That in itself, makes Polk the perfect choice for the CJ’s 2006 Male Athlete of the Year Award.

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