Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
Kolby Greiner cuts right to the chase when discussing his injury-riddled junior cross country season.
“Honestly, it was really tough,” Greiner said. “I’ve kind of been cursed with some injuries and I always try to do my best but a spine fracture really hurt.”
The spinal fracture derailed what started out as a season filled with promise for the West High standout.
Even with his injury Greiner won the individual title at the season-opening Cedar Rapids Prairie Invite and two weeks later blazed to a career-best 15:23 at the Marshalltown Invitational.
Eventually the effects of the spinal fracture began to catch up with Greiner.
“I got it last year June and I ran a 15:23 about three weeks into the season with the fracture,” Greiner said. “We had the MRI and I think I might have been overworking myself. You can’t really put that on anyone you just have to take that.”
The injury didn’t end the season for Greiner.
He kept competing, helping West High reach the Class 4A state meet where he finished a disappointing 29th in 16:20.8.
The finish was 18 spots below where Greiner placed as a sophomore and nearly 15 seconds slower.
While the pain that accompanied the injury was difficult for Greiner not being able to compete at his highest level was equally challenging.
“It was difficult,” Greiner said. “Knowing where I was to start the season made it hard to go through that.”
Greiner returned healthy in time for track season last spring and on Saturday showed he’s back to the form that made him a state title contender early last season.
Despite warm and humid conditions Greiner defended his title at the season-opening Cedar Rapids Prairie Invite, winning the individual crown by more than 18 seconds in a time of 16:35.8.
“This year I came into track without the fracture and I’ve really been working on my core and just getting back,” Greiner said. “The conditions were hard but it felt pretty good.”
After the spinal injury threatened to end his running career Greiner is focused on making the most of his senior season.
That translates to more than just individual success.
Greiner has taken on a leadership role on a West High team that he believes can compete for a state title.
“A lot of people it’s easy to say he’s naturally talented and can’t quite get close to him but he offers his hand in a lot of stuff and helps bring the guys along,” first-year West High coach Josh Kidman said of Greiner. “When you have an athlete like him it certainly inspires some other people.
Greiner credits his teammates for helping to keep him motivated.
Attendance at 5 a.m. workouts during the summer was off the charts according to Greiner.
“They are hungry,” Greiner said. “Every morning in the summer, 5 a.m. practice and they would show up every day.”
That mindset and a healthy Greiner has West High thinking big this fall.
“I think we really have that goal of state champion,” Greiner said. “The track team this year got second and Austin may have carried us a little there or maybe a lot but we felt that. It was a family experience and we’ve taken to that.”