Track's 'Coach Greeno' gets a sculpture

In this May 14 photo, Darwin Wolf sculpts a full-size likeness of late cross country coach Rich Greeno in his home studio in Sioux Falls. Works-in-progress of firefighter and soldier memorials stand just behind. (Erin Bormett/The Argus Leader via AP)

SIOUX FALLS (AP) – The late Rich Greeno, known more commonly as Coach Greeno, is returning to the place where he led hundreds of students up and down rolling hills during cross country workouts on his way to creating a high school dynasty.

The longtime Sioux Falls educator who passed away at age 88 in 2017 is being memorialized with a life-size bronze sculpture that will sit along the east bank of the river greenway between Tuthill and Paisley parks, an area familiar to Lincoln High School track and cross country athletes.

"The sculpture depicts the well-known, loved coach," said Russ Sorenson, an urban planner with the city who oversees public art placement in Sioux Falls, told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. "Coach Greeno is depicted as running as he trained and encouraged his team."

South Dakota artist Darwin Wolf created the sculpture, which will stand about 8 feet tall with the pedestal. It was commissioned by the Rich Greeno Memorial Committee, formed following the coach's death to carry on his legacy and inspire others to stay active, said co-chair Zon Tran, who ran for Greeno at Lincoln from 1984 to 1988.

"It didn't matter what your ability was," Tran said. "His thing was everybody was important on the team whether you're slow, fast or a superstar. He cared more about you as a person than your ability, encouraging you no matter who you were."

During his stint as coach at Lincoln from 1965 to 1990, Greeno led the Patriots to 11 state boys cross country titles and eight track crowns, before moving on to coach at the University of Sioux Falls.

Greeno is a member of both the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame and the National High School Sports Hall of Fame.

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