Tony Griner, Century's new boys cross country coach, runs practice Aug. 13, 2018.
Tony Griner, Century's new boys cross country coach, runs practice Aug. 13, 2018. (Ken Koons/Carroll County Times)

Tony Griner approached a Century cross country runner outside the school’s stadium as she completed one of her workouts during Monday’s practice that combined boys and girls teams.

“Feels good, doesn’t it?” Griner asked her.


She nodded and, with a smile, joined her teammates as they headed toward the stadium to start a series of strength and conditioning stations created by Griner to reduce the risk of injury.

The former Century track and field coach is adding cross country to his resume.

He led the Knights boys indoor and outdoor track squads to state championships in 2011 an 2013, and added another outdoor state crown in 2015. But when Griner said he never contemplated returning to coaching after handing his duties to Dyron Johnson and Chris Mead in 2016.

“The work ethic with these athletes is incredible,” said Griner, who will coach the boys team this season. “There’s not one I’m nervous they may have disappeared to High’s [Dairy Store]. They want to work and they know what the benefit is. … I love it, it’s a lot of learning.

“It’s the same attitude when you go into track of, ‘Oh please, they just run’ and then you start learning about all the mechanics. It’s so much to learn, it’s just a ton.”

Mead coached the Knights for eight years and led the girls cross country team to a state championship in 2011.

The girls won five Carroll County Athletic League titles, and three Class 2A state titles in a row from 2009-2011. The program claims two girls with individual county meet championships — Rachel Hawes (2001-02) and Maura Linde (2007-09).

The Knights have a new coach on the girls side as well this season in Meghan Myers.

Century’s boys, meanwhile, won the county team title in 2012 and were state finalists in 2016.

Tony Griner is Century's new boys cross country coach.
Tony Griner is Century's new boys cross country coach. (Ken Koons/Carroll County Times)

Griner said strength training was a contributing factor to the track team’s success and he plans to implement this training for the cross country team twice a week.

“It’s really designed so that we maintain their strength,” Griner said. “We see a lot of problems with the way knees land, so by stabilizing their foot, a lot of things start to move their foot back and forth and if I can learn to have the ankle and knee stabilized … hips for the girls since they have a tendency with a lot of ACL tears. If I can add that to their already huge dedication to this sport, then hopefully it works.”

The team moved indoors Monday because of impending inclement weather, and Griner led the group of close to 100 athletes through a series of stretches to conclude practice. He moved from athlete to athlete, coaching them through each stretch to make sure they were doing it correctly.

Knights senior Zachary Fenton helped lead those stretches. As the season nears, Fenton said he is looking forward to racing and reconnecting with his peers from across the county.

Griner’s arrival is an inclusive motivational factor, he added.


“I’m very excited because I think he’ll bring a new fire to the program,” Fenton said. “He’s probably the most motivating person I know so I’m really excited and I think the whole team is excited. We have a completely different coaching staff this year, and not to say the previous ones weren’t terrific but I think new blood is a good thing after a few years.”

Griner is familiar with a large turnout as a result of the track program’s popularity. He said he has been learning a lot from Mead and Linde, now an assistant cross country coach at Johns Hopkins University.

“You’re more on an island because as a coach, there you had such great coaches around you that you could really concentrate as a head coach because you had to come up with a game plan of how you want practice to progress,” Griner said. “I’ve never done as much practice planning and you have to have repetitions and times for every individual kid to achieve their very best.”