MUSCATINE — Thursday’s Mississippi Athletic Conference boys track meet had “all the bad makings,” according to Clinton coach Tony Smith. Through pouring rain, high winds and frigid temperatures, Smith said the River Kings needed to toughen up mentally if they were going to outrun the competition.
“Everybody has to run in the same conditions,” he said. “We just told our kids to compete and don’t worry so much about times.”
With 113.5 points, the River Kings finished second to Pleasant Valley in team competition, holding off Bettendorf, North Scott and Davenport Central to endure the elements.
Top athletes Deshond Robinson and Jason Banker performed well, as expected. They finished 1-2 in the 400-meter dash with Robinson winning. Banker also delivered with a first-place showing in the 400 hurdles. In the relays, the duo teamed with Austin Houzenga and Jon Cady to win the 1,600-meter event.
Those victories, alone, weren’t enough to make the medal stand, which is why Smith pointed to key performances in the field events as the reason why the Kings claimed silver.
Brady Ernst and Will Carr finished second and third in the high jump. Cody Collendar was 2.5 inches away from claiming first in long jump, and in throwing events, Nathan Harden beat steep competition to place third in shot put. Going into the meet, he was the sixth-rated thrower in the MAC.
“It all depended on his mental attitude,” Smith said of Harden’s performance. “I think that was a surprise for even him.”
He added that overcoming those obstacles set a good tone leading into the district meet at Dubuque Hempstead.
“We’ll have a pretty competitive district in Dubuque,” Smith said. “It’s good. We’re trying to put together some things and get to state.”
He also commended the freshmen/sophomore team on finishing third in its meet, happening simultaneously.