Former Fort Osage star Krysa fills competitive 'void' with auto racing

Cody Thorn
Special to The Examiner
Dalton Krysa, a former star running back for Fort Osage who went on to play collegiately at Missouri Western, works on his new race car prior to a race at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley. Krysa, now a physical therapist, said he is feeding his competitive spirit with auto racing.

For most of his formative years Dalton Krysa grew up around local race tracks following his dad, Frank, who was a crew chief for many racers.

While he made his name more well known for his prowess on the football field, Krysa is now competing on the track at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley.

Last week, Krysa took fourth place in the A feature in the E-modified race circling around the course in his blue No. 42 car. That was his fourth race of the season and his sixth ever since debuting at the track late last season with a pair of starts.

“I always wanted to race and I finally got a place where I could go ahead and purchase a car and just go do it,” said Krysa, who was a standout running back at Fort Osage High School before going to Missouri Western. “My dad is the crew chief. He owns the truck and trailer that pulls it to the track. It is a good experience for both of us. We work on the car throughout the week. Him and I put it together and set it up each week and analyze how we did and how the car handled. We talk about the set-up and how to make it faster for the next week.”

Krysa, who now lives in Blue Springs, picked Valley Speedway to race due to the proximity. He hopes once he gets more experience under his belt he will start racing at I-35 Speedway in Winston, Mo., or at U.S. 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo.

Racing has become a family affair for Krysa and his family. Last Sunday – a night after racing in Grain Valley – his wife, Kara, is out there helping him wash all the dirt caked onto the car chassis.

Not far from them is their 13-month-old son, Declan, who splashes water out of the water bucket.

Krysa is thankful for his wife, who encouraged him to start driving.

Racing has filled a void in Krysa’s life since his playing days ended at Missouri Western in 2014.

He started playing football in third grade and that was the first year he wore No. 42. When he got to high school, he took that number as well – which was worn by his older brother.

His uniform number was switched to 20 when he arrived in St. Joseph in the fall of 2009. He picked the Griffons over a handful of other MIAA schools and eschewed walk-on offers from Missouri and Kansas.

Krysa was a three time all-state pick for coach Ryan Schartz and was a two-time Simone Award finalist.

He joined a Missouri Western program that was ascending under the leadership of Jerry Partridge. As a redshirt sophomore, the team went 9-3 and reached the NCAA Division II playoffs. The next year, the Griffons reached the national quarterfinals and went 12-2. Western knocked off rival Northwest Missouri State 21-20 in Maryville in the regular season finale to win the MIAA conference title.

Western got the go-ahead score with 1:07 left and held on for the win.

“We won a ton while I was there and it is something that is highly meaningful in my life,” said Krysa, who was a backup to future NFL running back Michael Hill. “Helping Western to win its first outright championship, that was my favorite memory. We were at Northwest and we ended up beating them in the fourth quarter. We beat our rival at their facility and before the game, whoever would win the game, would win the (MIAA) outright title. It was pretty cool.”

How talent-laden was that game? Seven different players from those two teams played pro football, six in the NFL and one in the Arena Football League.

If that wasn’t enough, the next game for Krysa in a Western uniform was a 57-55 win in triple overtime over Minnesota State-Duluth.

Krysa tied a school record as a redshirt freshman in 2010 with five touchdowns against Lincoln.

He added six more touchdowns over his next three seasons of playing – he could’ve come back for an additional year after redshirting in 2012 due to a torn ACL but he moved onto the next chapter in his life.

“It was good to be part of something when you get there the trajectory is right because of the direction of Coach Partridge and his staff,” Krysa said. “They had a system progressively getting better and winning more.”

He started applying for graduate schools, narrowing his focus down to Missouri State, Missouri and Southwest Baptist. Krysa earned a degree in health and exercise science at Western and was pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy.

He was accepted in the Missouri School of Medicine and attended school there from 2014-2017. He left Columbia as Dr. Dalton Krysa.

He is currently a physical therapist for Saint Luke’s Health System in the Northland and he is the chair of the Saint Luke’s Spine and Sports Medicine Clinic.

He chose the career path in some small part due to personal experience as he was coming back from the ACL injury suffered in the season opener of 2012 against Central Missouri.

He worked with athletic trainers and physical therapists to get back for the next season. Now, he has helped numerous athletes or just regular people recover from a torn ACL.

He got into a routine of work, home, work, home, and repeated on a daily basis.

After playing football for 15 years, Krysa knew something was missing – which led to the purchase of a car from a driver in Warrensburg.

Then, he talked to his dad about returning in the role of crew chief.

“A lot of competitors or athletes … there is something needed to fill that void of being competitive and pursuing being better and trying to win,” Krysa said. “It is a lot of work when you compare it to football. Football, you put in two hours a week for a two or three hour game. In racing, you can put up to 10 hours a week into the car to wash it, nut and bolt it and get it running right so the motor won’t fall apart for seven or eight minutes of racing. This helps fill that competitive void for me. And it is cool Dad and I get to do it, and hopefully we get a win before he decides to retire.”

Dalton Krysa in his football playing days at Fort Osage High School, where he was a two-time Simone Award finalist.