Prep Sports

Kolby Greiner hopes to reverse his state cross country meet fortunes

Lost shoe, back injury have slowed Iowa City West ace in past races

Iowa City West’s Kolby Greiner leads Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Jack Pendergast and Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Jacob Green during the Prairie Invitational cross country meet Aug. 25. Greiner will compete in his fourth state meet Saturday at Fort Dodge. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa City West’s Kolby Greiner leads Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Jack Pendergast and Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Jacob Green during the Prairie Invitational cross country meet Aug. 25. Greiner will compete in his fourth state meet Saturday at Fort Dodge. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Kolby Greiner is deserving of some good fortune at the state cross country meet.

A senior at Iowa City West, Greiner will make his fourth appearance at Fort Dodge’s Lakeside Golf Course on Saturday. The gun goes off for the Class 4A boys at 11:30 a.m.

Greiner is one of the top runners in the state, but only once in his first three trips has he run to his potential.

“I’m definitely ready,” he said. “I’ve had some bad luck along the way.”

Greiner can laugh now about his freshman race, in 2015. He was in the top 15 fairly late in the race, when one of his shoes slipped off.

“I ran without it for 50 meters, then I figured I’d better go back and get it,” he said. “I should have just kept going, but I was a freshman and I didn’t want anybody stealing my shoe.”

Greiner returned as a sophomore and ran well, placing 11th. He figured to be one of the top state-championship contenders as a junior.

It didn’t happen.

During a sprint workout last season, Greiner felt pain in his back.

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“Insurance wouldn’t let us get me an MRI, so I just kind of ran with it,” he said.

Greiner ran with pain all season, and was miserable at the state meet, placing 46th. After the season, he was diagnosed with what amounted to a stress fracture in his back.

“(The condition) is a really long name, but stress fracture would be accurate,” he said. “As I look back, I probably shouldn’t have run with it. It was pretty awful. I didn’t get good sleep at night. Sleeping on the floor was more comfortable than sleeping in bed.”

After some rest after the season, Greiner was instructed to modify his running style.

“I had to change my posture,” he said. “Before the injury, I was more slumped over. Now I run more with my chest up higher, like I’m looking up at something. It keeps my back in the right position.

“It was challenging at first. Now if feels natural, and I attribute it to all my core work and agility stuff that I do.”

Last year’s injury has taught Greiner to take his foot off the gas when something isn’t right. At the Mississippi Valley Conference race three weeks ago, he stepped off the course with less than a mile to go when he felt his hamstring tighten.

Running stardom runs in Greiner’s genes, on the maternal side.

His mother, Sadie, was a key sprinter on Sigourney’s powerhouse teams in the early 1990s. Kolby’s first taste of competition came as a wrestler.

“I wrestled in a club under Dan Gable and the Brands brothers. That taught me how to be competitive,” Greiner said. “During practice, I wasn’t a great wrestler, but I could outrun everybody.”

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West Coach Josh Kidman called Greiner, “aerobically, one of the best I’ve ever seen. And he’s a competitive kid. He’s a gamer that races best when his back is against the wall.

“I don’t know how he’ll finish Saturday, but I know he’ll put forth an effort that will prove that the last four years of work have been worth it.”

Greiner, whose college list includes Drake and Boise State, is of the mentality not to talk about his race until race day. But he’ll arrive in Fort Dodge as one of the top pack of runners (along with Jack Pendergast of Cedar Rapids Prairie and Jacob Green of Cedar Rapids Kennedy) that will try to challenge defending champion Tim Sindt of Ankeny.

“I’m thinking about positive thoughts and having fun,” he said.

“But top five is definitely a goal. I’ll be pounding the pace, and I’ll be there to race.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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