Male Prep Athlete of the Year: Auburn Riverside's Krotzer blazed a trail of excellence

On the oval or trial, Kenny Krotzer set the pace as one of the state’s finest high school runners.  - Shawn Skager/Auburn Reporter
On the oval or trial, Kenny Krotzer set the pace as one of the state’s finest high school runners.
— image credit: Shawn Skager/Auburn Reporter

It was one heck of a way to wrap up a high school career.

On June 12, Auburn Riverside distance runner Kenny Krotzer – the Auburn Reporter’s Male Prep Athlete of the Year – competed in the Jim Ryun Dream Mile at Icahn Stadium in New York City.

The race – named for Ryun, the first high school miler to break the four-minute mark – pitted the country’s 14 best milers as part of the adidas Grand Prix, an annual meet featuring the world’s biggest track and field superstars.

“It was so cool,” said Krotzer, who recently graduated from Auburn Riverside and will attend Stanford on scholarship next year. “They flew me and my dad out, and Mr. Sumner (Riverside track and field coach Bill Sumner) came with us. … They gave us a uniform, warmups, shoes and all kinds of clothes. I felt like a pro athlete.”

In addition to getting a taste of what it’s like to run at the national level, Krotzer got a chance to experience the thrill of running in front of thousands of spectators.

“The stadium was completely full,“ he said. “They sold out all the tickets, and there were people on a grass hill outside the stadium. It was by far the biggest crowd I’ve ever run in front of. It was kind of nerve-wracking, actually. In the warmup area, I looked around and saw all my heroes in running. They were all there.”

Although Krotzer finished ninth in the race with a time of 4:15.30, well below his personal-best 4:07.24 he set earlier this season at the Shoreline Invitational, he said it was all about the experience.

“I knew I wasn’t in as good of shape as I was in the middle of the season, so I knew it wouldn’t be a great (finish) for me,” he said. “I went for the experience, and that’s what I got.”

Lukas Verzbicas of Lincoln Way High School (New Lenox, Ill) won the race in 4:04.38.

The event capped a stellar high school career for Krotzer, who continues a long line of outstanding Ravens distance runners, stretching back to Carl Moe.

This season Krotzer finished ninth at the state 4A cross country championships. This spring, he grabbed fifth place in the state 800 meters and was third in the 1,600.

“My best moment in running in high school would have to be after the Nike pre-nationals in cross country,” Krotzer said. “I had a good race and when I finished and looked behind me, there were (teammates) Nate (Gesell), Korey (Krotzer) and Nic (Lawrence). I was so happy after that race.”

Although Kortzer will be sad to move on and leave his teammates behind, he knows that his time with the Ravens has forged lifelong friendships.

“I’ll run with them this summer and whenever I come up from Stanford,” he said.

For now, it’s getting ready for college.

“I just got the training schedule from Stanford, and the cross country camp starts at the end of August,” he said.

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