BETTENDORF — Sam Gordon was not too excited with how he had run the past couple of meets for Muscatine's boys cross country team.
Gordon did something about it Thursday afternoon on arguably the toughest course the Muskies will compete at this season.
The Muscatine junior placed eighth in the Mississippi Athletic Conference meet at Crow Creek Park in 17 minutes, 34 seconds.
"My last couple of meets weren't my greatest performances, so I wasn't super optimistic today," Gordon said. "I came in and competed well.
"It is fun to run a hard race on a hard course."
Gordon hopes it can springboard him into the state-qualifying meet next Wednesday in Dubuque.
"Personally, I feel I can compete super well," he said.
Muscatine coach Chris Foxen attributed it to Gordon's start.
"He really challenged himself in the first half-mile to separate himself from the main (pack)," Foxen said. "He held it and moved up a little bit.
"I was happy with how he raced the terrain and engaged the downhills."
Pleasant Valley claimed its 10th straight conference title with 21 points. Bettendorf was second at 55, followed by North Scott (92), Muscatine (120) and Davenport Assumption (128).
Muscatine's Nos. 2, 3 and 4 runners were separated by only eight seconds. Logan Kirchner was 24th, Trevor Diederichs 25th and Aidan Armstrong 28th.
"I knew it'd be tough to break into the top two this year," Foxen said. "North Scott is a program on the rise and did a good job. It was evident in the first mile they were going to take third.
"Our guys ran a good race, but North Scott ran really well."
Between now and next week, Foxen said the Muskies need to find a little bit more consistency throughout the race.
"We had some good performances on our team, but we need to put together a more complete race," he said. "If we can get our No. 4 guy to move up some and our No. 5 a little closer to that next group of guys, the results will be a lot better."
The Muscatine girls were seventh with 199 points. PV nipped state-ranked Bettendorf for the title, 44-50.
Karly Ricketts led the Muskies with a 28th-place finish in 22:11. Taya Melendez was 34th (22:25) and Gwen Kuhl 38th (23:25).
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