In the sweltering Texas summer heat, Ryan junior Maurice Gordon could feel his mustache moving.
The heat, combined with Gordon’s nerves before his track events, unsettled Gordon more than usual prior to one of his events during a summer track meet. Gordon’s lack of food or liquids before the event had him thinking his facial hair was shuffling around his face.
Over the years and the course of Ryan’s track and field season, Gordon’s nerves have subsided. The Ryan junior will have the opportunity to bring home individual and relay medals at the Class 5A state track and field meet in Austin. The meet starts Friday and wraps up Saturday.
Gordon enters the 200 meters with the third-fastest time (21.22 seconds). He also is a member of Ryan’s 800 relay team, which also includes Terell Cross, Paul Hunter and Cameron Williams. The team enters the state meet with the sixth-fastest time at 1:25.95.
“He’s got his nerves straight,” Williams, a senior, said. “He’s more confident. I’m pretty sure he’s going to go out there and place. He’s going to be good.”
Gordon is a big reason why Ryan’s 800 relay team is making its fourth state appearance in the last five years. Gordon also could bring home the second individual medal in school history. Aaron Scott, who went on to briefly run for Texas, won the bronze medal in the 200 at the 2011 Class 4A meet.
Gordon probably wouldn’t be running in the 200 this weekend if it wasn’t for Ryan head coach Janson Head’s tinkering with the lineup.
It didn’t take long for Gordon, one of the football team’s running backs, to display his speed. Gordon ran one of the fastest handheld times (21.50 seconds) in recent Ryan history, and after a dominating performance at the District 5-5A meet, Head decided to keep Gordon running the 200.
Prior to the 5-5A meet, Gordon had only run in the event twice this season. Head took Gordon off the 400 relay for the district meet and had him run the 100 and the 200 to rack up points for the Raiders.
Head said Williams posted comparable times to Gordon, but a false start at the district meet kept him from moving on to the area meet in that event.
Gordon said he prefers running the 200 to the 100 because almost anybody can run the latter. But when it comes to the 200, it’s a different story.
“Whenever you’re running the last 100 in the 200, it’s all about heart and seeing who can finish the best, and I feel like I have a lot of heart,” Gordon said.
In the 800 relay, Gordon has held down the third leg of the relay. Head said the years the Raiders have been good in the relay, he’s always had a strong third leg. As good as Gordon’s been on the track, Head said the standout junior is just as stellar when he’s not running.
“He’s about as nice a kid that you can coach,” Head said. “He’s quiet, very respectful and really hard-working. Those are all cliche things to say, but it’s true with him. Ask the football coaches. Anybody will tell you he’s easygoing.”
The junior did his best to conceal a small smile when asked about the possibility of bringing back an individual medal. While Gordon admits it’d be great to come home with that medal, he wants to win the 800 relay event for the seniors.
After the Raiders’ 800 relay finished third at the Texas Relays, Gordon said he’s been putting in extra work because he knew the team had the opportunity to make it to state.
When Gordon steps into his lane on Saturday for both events, the nerves will take a back seat to what Gordon and the Raiders could accomplish in Austin.
“I think it’ll be more excitement than nervous because we’ve been to Texas Relays where it’s much more challenging,” Gordon said. “Being at state, all we need to do is just focus on what we’re doing, stay relaxed and we’ll be just fine.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.