By RICK PETERSON
If things had gone like planned, Topeka West junior Lenny Njoroge would have entered Saturday's Joe Schrag Invitational cross country meet as the defending champion.
Instead, Njoroge, a Charger standout in cross country, soccer and track and field, was on the sidelines watching, still recovering from a broken leg suffered early in May in a club soccer game.
"It's pretty tough to watch,'' he said. "I miss it.''
But Njoroge, a Class 5A state medalist as both a freshman and sophomore, is doing everything he can to make the best of a situation he didn't expect to be in.
During Saturday's meet at the Kanza Park Course, Njoroge rooted on his Topeka West teammates while also making the rounds to visit with fellow competitors, all while wearing a constant smile on his face.
Njoroge's injury came about 12 hours after he won the city title in the 3,200-meter run in track.
"And then everything just collapses,'' Njoroge said. "Honestly, it was pretty hard, but I just tried to stay positive. I've got coaches around me helping me and keeping me positive.''
Njoroge is likely to miss the entire 2021 cross country season, but expects to be back in action next spring.
"I'm on schedule and I'm actually jogging right now,'' said Njoroge, who placed 12th in 5A cross country as a freshman and 11th last fall. "I'm starting some slow training and getting back into it step by step.
"The coaches and the doctors told me to take it easy this fall and then next track season I'll get back into it. They tell me I'll be back to being good and where I was, so by next year I'll be good.''
And Njoroge has every intention of continuing to participate in both cross country/track and soccer.
"I've still got love for both sports so I'll keep playing both,'' he said. "They're both my favorite sport.
"It was a pretty devastating time, but you've got to stay positive.''