DEWITT, Iowa -- The skies appeared to pose an ominous threat to Thursday evening's Jim Hetrick Invitational in DeWitt. But the rain held off long enough and the cooler weather made for excellent conditions for the runners.
Thus, what appeared to be a concern leading up the the meet turned out to be a bit of a blessing.
The Muscatine boys went into the meet with a clear goal: See how they measure up to their in-conference foes, specifically North Scott (who finished second with 123 points) and Bettendorf (third, 124) as the three of them try and take a top-two finish behind the favorite Pleasant Valley when the Mississippi Athletic Conference meet comes around.
Muscatine finished fourth overall on the boys side with a score of 133.
The Muskie girls took took 10th. And Wilton's Zach Hein, West Liberty's Jimena Fierro and Rylee Blake all enjoyed top-12 finishes as individuals.
Clear Creek-Amana (33) ran away with the boys title and Bettendorf (52), North Scott (79) and Monticello (90) took the top-three team spots for the girls.
And as runners and teams head into the home stretch of the season, piling solid performances on top of each other is paramount.
And that's exactly what the Muscatine boys team felt like they did today.
"(The race) went pretty well," Muskie runner Eli Roeth said, "I had a career (personal record) by a good 20 seconds (and) I beat some guys that we needed to beat to get up there. Unfortunately, we didn't (beat) Bettendorf and North Scott, but we got close."
Roeth finished 27th with a time of 17:42.5. However, Roeth placed 26th since Prince of Peace's Marcus Blount placed 20th, but the school didn't have enough runners to qualify in the team standings, bumping everyone behind up a spot.
Sam Gordon led the team finishing 14th with a time of 17.17.4, followed by Logan Kirchner (16th, 17:26.6) and Roeth.
"This was a step in the right direction," said Muskie boys coach Chris Foxen, "we didn't run very well in Iowa City (on Tuesday) ... guys really responded to the challenge."
Wilton's Zach Hein ran the course in 17.12.3, good for 12th.
"It felt pretty good for the most part," Hein said. "It felt nice to have (cooler weather), there was a few hot days, so the 60-degree weather felt nice."
In the varsity girls race, West Liberty's Jimena Fierro took fifth, but the Comets didn't score as a team.
Fierro crossed the finish line in 20:08.9.
"This meet kind of showed me where I was," Fierro said, "I don't think it (was) too bad, but I know I can do better."
Muscatine's Rylee Blake was the top girls finisher, she took 14th (but scored in 13th) by finishing with a time of 20:47.3, to pace the Muskie girls in a solid meet.
"This was one of our better meets," Muscatine girls head coach Scott Roberts said. "The weather was good and (the team) had a pretty good week of practice ... overall they ran a lot better than they have the last two weeks."