DES MOINES — A pair of fifth-place finishes Saturday at the Drake Relays should just add to the anticipation as Clinton prepares for this week’s Mississippi Athletic Conference boys track and field meet.
“They impressed me,” Clinton coach Tony Smith said. “The times we ran were really good.”
Jason Banker placed fifth in the 400-meter hurdles with a personal-best time of 53.80 seconds, and he joined Cody Collender and brothers Marquis and Deshond Robinson in turning in a personal record in the 1,600 relay in 3:22.69.
“That was great for him in the 400 lows,” Smith said of Banker. “It’s good experience heading to state. If you told me at the beginning of the season Jason would run like that ... we were just trying to make it state. Now, he’s got a chance of being in the top three.”
Only two of the four hurdlers who finished ahead of Banker, including winner Jack Bergstrom of Johnston (52.96), are from Class 4A schools, Clinton’s class.
The same was true in the 1,600 relay, which was won in 3:21.52 by Cedar Rapids Prairie, although Smith noted that Johnston, which had the fastest qualifying time, later was disqualified upon review.
The four-by-4(00) dropped like five seconds from the best we have had this year,” Smith said.
“I think it’s really big for confidence,” Smith said of his foursome’s time. “After last year’s success in the four-by-4 (Banker and three graduated seniors placed fifth at state), I don’t know if they believed in themselves.”
With Drake out of the way, the River Kings now will concentrate on Thursday’s MAC meet at Muscatine. They also have a meet there tonight that will serve as a tuneup. Smith said he was optimistic about the Kings’ chances Thursday.
“I think Pleasant Valley will run away with it; they’ve got everything,” he said. “Then, I think it’s going to be fun. I’d like to think we’ll be in the hunt with Bettendorf and Davenport Central for second.”