By Bill Althaus

bill.althaus@examiner.net

Tristan Pfeiffer, an outside linebacker who tore his ACL in the fourth game of his senior year at Grain Valley High School, has just one regret on the 2017 campaign.

“It’s not about missing the last games of my high school career,” Pfeiffer said, after a Friday morning graduation practice in downtown Independence, “it’s that I felt like more a while that I let my teammates down.

“But I made sure to come back with a smile on my face, to be supportive and to do anything I could to help them at practice or during games. I couldn’t help by playing, but I could help by being there for them -— and that was important to me because so many people have been there for me during my career.”

What does a student-athlete like Pfeiffer mean to his school?

He was as comfortable reading to elementary school students as he was chasing down an opposing quarterback; when an underclassman needed help with homework or learning a new technique in the shot put or discus, Pfeiffer was always there.

Pfeiffer is a leader, and now, he’s hoping to lead the Eagles track and field team to more success, as he stunned his doctors, coaches and even himself, as he has been one of the area’s top performers in the shot put for the Missouri River Valley Conference championship squad.

“Yeah, I surprised a lot of people,” said Pfeiffer, who won the Grain Valley Invitational with a personal-best 149 foot, 11 inch throw in the discus and 47-10 mark in the shot (which he has since pushed to 48-9).

“I was told I wouldn’t be able to compete in anything for six months after I tore my ACL last September, and I was back and got cleared a week before the track season — that was four months.”

He was able to come back sooner than expected through hard work.

“That meant a lot to me. I mean, I worked hard to get back, but I also wanted to get back to score some points for my team and hopefully help us win a district championship in Holden.”

Although he tore his ACL, he still earned a football scholarship from Western Illinois University, so the sting of missing much of his senior year went away because he knew he had plenty of more football on the horizon.

“But I had some unfinished business in track, and this is it. One day soon, I’ll never pick up a shot or discus and I want to make the most of this season for myself, my team and my school.”