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One of the strengths of the Muscatine girls cross country team all season long has been its balance. That proved to be true once again Thursday at the Jim Hetrick Invitational at DeWitt High School, as Muscatine had three runners in the top 12 and five in the top 30 to place second out of 12 teams.

"I think that was the key, we had our five runners a lot closer together than at the beginning of the season," Armstrong said. "That's always important."

Senior Moriah Moter led the Muskies with a fifth place finish in 20:38, while junior Emmie Smith placed 11th in 21:10, and sophomore Rylee Blake was 12th in 21:13.

"We gave her a couple of girls to key on and she hung in there most of the race," Armstrong said of Morter. "She gave us what we needed being up there in the top 10."

Senior Emma Maynard and sophomore Molly Tigrett rounded out the Muskies top five with 18th and 28th place finishes, respectively, and Armstrong feels good about where his team is at heading into the conference meet.

The Muscatine boys cross county also found success at the Jim Hetrick Invitational with a third place finish out of 16 teams, and coach Chris Foxen feels his team is peaking at the right time.

Part that of that, Foxen says, can be attributed to the Muskies' strength and conditioning program.

"I see that a lot at the end of meets we have more gas left in the tank," Foxen said. "Our strength and conditioning program does an excellent job."

That was evident for Tyler Olson, as the senior found himself in tight race down the stretch and he passed the second place runner in the final half mile to place second in 16:54.

The Muskies got strong contributions from Tevin Tovar and Eli Roeth. Tovar, a junior, placed 12th in 17:31 while Roeth, a sophomore, placed 26th in 18:14.

The boys and girls cross country teams will race at the MAC Conference meet at West Lake next Thursday at 3 p.m. in what Armstrong said will be their toughest meet to date.

"I told the team you should be excited, we’re peaking at the right time," Foxen said. "But we must remain focused and ready for the conference meet next Thursday.”

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