CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Kolby Greiner spent much of his summer running the 10K. The Iowa City West High junior knew there'd be an adjustment cutting down to the 5K this cross country season.
Greiner wasn't sure what to expect Saturday during his season-opening race here at the Cedar Rapids Prairie Invitational. Turned out, he had nothing to worry about.
Griener's 16:06 was 41 seconds better than runner-up Moe Smith of Waukee. Linn-Mar's Dylan Dolezal edged Prairie's Max Lane for third with both runners logging a 16:56.
Linn-Mar captured the team title with 53 points. Prairie finished second at 65 and Waukee ended up third with 91.
Greiner finished 11th in last year's state cross country meet. He served notice Saturday that he's ready to climb the ladder this season.
"The weather was perfect. I couldn't ask for a better day. I've had some bad weather in the past, Drake Relays, where you can't even see. But this was perfect," he said of the unseasonably cool, overcast conditions.
Griener ran the opening mile in 5:03, which was off his recent time trial time of 4:47. He felt Saturday was a little slow but the trial was too brisk.
"I'm kind of working on my pace coming off a lot of 10K training," he said.
After feeling strong at the start, Greiner said he got a little lost in his head while running alone. When he noticed, he began envisioning himself being pushed by some of the state's other top runners.
"I like to picture my main competitors around me, like Camden Cox of Ankeny Centennial or Tim Sindt from Ankeny. But, mostly I was thinking, I didn't train all summer for nothing," he said with a smile.
Smith did what he could to push Greiner's pace. The Waukee junior, who finished 59th as a sophomore at the '16 state meet, showed his strict summer training had paid off.
"I saw the pack slow down at the beginning so I just tried to go out, tried to go up with Kolby because I know he's a great runner. I just tried to stay with him or at least be able to see him the whole race was my goal. I kept seeing him and pushed but he slowly sped up and it was hard to go with him," Smith said.
Dolezal was running his first competitive cross country race. He decided to join the team after competing only in track as a freshman last year.
"I felt good early on. I got into a comfortable pace but my stomach starting hurting a little bit by the end of the race. I just pushed through it and it ended up being a pretty good race," he said.
Linn-Mar won the team title on the back three top 10 finishers. Colin Johnston (16:58) grabbed fifth, just two seconds behind Dolezal. Trent Long (17:07) came in 10th.
"We have a big team goal of doing good at state. We're hoping to win, or at least go for it. (Saturday's performance) kind of sets the tone for the season. It shows the level we're at and how we can improve on that," Dolezal said.
Greiner also is striving for big heights this season. His opening meet got things off on the right foot.
"Long range is state champion, for sure. That's my big goal. After that, I'm going to try to make it to Foot Locker Nationals," he said.