MANLIUS — For two weeks, Bureau Valley girls track and field coach Dale Donner could tell sophomore Kamryn Kolb “wasn’t her normal self.”
On a Monday four days after the Class 1A Erie Sectional, Kolb went to the doctor. On Tuesday, test results showed she had mononucleosis.
That meant despite qualifying for state in four events — and a year after earning four state medals — Kolb wouldn’t be able to compete in Charleston.
“It started as really upsetting for me because I wouldn’t be able to go, I wouldn’t be able to compete and I wouldn’t be able to show what I could do because I didn’t do well my freshman year in the long jump so I wanted to come back and prove I could do it,” Kolb said. “Then it turned into I wanted to be there for my team.”
Kolb was all about the team this season.
She competed in eight different events to help the Storm score points at meets.
Kolb had the area’s top performances in the 100-meter dash, 200, 400 and long jump — including setting the all-time area record in the event — while also competing in the triple jump and anchoring BV’s 400, 800 and 1,600 relays.
She qualified for state in the long jump, 200, 400 relay and 800 relay.
For all she accomplished this season, Kolb is the 2019 NewsTribune Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Kolb is the eighth BV athlete to win the award and the first since Lindsey Hoffert in 2012.
“I’m always willing to help the team,” Kolb said. “Donner always knows what’s best for us and what we can do to improve. He always has a strategy going into every meet knowing if I have to get out of the 4-by-100, we have an alternate who can help us get points and I can score in another event.”
Kolb can even score in events she doesn’t like running.
“I don’t like running the 400, but I do love helping the team,” Kolb said. “If I have to change events, even if it means running the 400, I will always do it.
“I’ll complain, but I’ll do it.”
Kolb’s versatility and willingness to change events helped the Storm win every meet but two this season. The only non-wins were second-place finishes at the Eureka invitational and the sectional.
“She’s very versatile,” Donner said. “She’d probably run a great 800 too. She hated the 400 but she’d run it so we could win meets when we thought the meet would be close.
“She has a couple things going for her. She has the gift of speed. Very few people come through with that. Along with that she has a competitive fire where she absolutely hates to lose. She’ll do anything she can with a person next to her to bear down and give it a little extra.”
Kolb is willing to put in extra time to improve.
“If you say I got four medals at state, how could you do better? Well, in long jump I came in (to state) ranked first (last year) and I didn’t get it,” Kolb said. “If I come in ranked first, I want to get it. I always have that motivation to do better.”
Last summer, Kolb attend camps at Illinois State University and at the University of Wisconsin that helped her improve her block starts.
“Getting better at the 200 (was a highlight this season),” Kolb said. “The 200 wasn’t something I was always good at, especially because I couldn’t get that full sprint out of the blocks. Going to track camps over the summer and learning how to do these things right really helped me with getting my speed up faster.
“Both camps were really good experiences and they helped me a lot, especially because there’s no one 6-foot in my grade so there’s no one to really help you and say, ‘You need to do this with blocks,’ so it’s really good to have those coaches.”
If Kolb gets cleared for athletic activity Tuesday, she’s returning to ISU camp and also plans to attend an invite-only Nike camp in Michigan.
“If she keeps working and if she can stay healthy, she has the body build to continue improving,” Donner said. “Our P.E. department does a nice job developing speed and explosiveness. It’s promising for her the next few years.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.