COLUMBIA – It was a normal Friday the 13th.
The Rock Bridge boys basketball team was playing Chaminade in the semifinals of the state tournament on March 13. The Bruins led by 21 points after the first quarter and carried an 18-point lead into the fourth.
Norm Stewart Classic
Rock Bridge vs. Moberly
WHEN: 7 p.m.
WHERE: Columbia College
Ricky Kreklow, the team’s leading scorer, had played through a minor ankle injury for about three months before then. It hadn’t bothered him much until that game.
What happened could cause paraskavedekatriaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13ths. Rock Bridge lost its lead, and Chaminade won 66-65 and eventually won the state championship.
Kreklow missed the third-place game the next day because of what turned out to be a stress fracture in his right ankle.
It would be the first of two injuries that Kreklow suffered over the summer before his senior season, an important one for high school athletes looking to play college basketball.
“The first week was rough,” he said. “It’s like, ‘Is this ever going to end?’ You start to look at the situation positively. If you have a bad attitude, it’s going to make things worse.”
Kreklow wore a walking cast for six weeks after Rock Bridge’s loss, which brought him to his AAU basketball season with KC Pump N Run.
The team played in a tournament in Colorado over the summer, which was when Kreklow began working himself back into shape. His back was bothering him, but he tried to play through it. Kreklow leaped to trying to block a shot and suffered a major back injury when he came back down.
“It wasn’t until late in the summer when I got unlucky and ruptured the disk in my back,” he said. “Probably just wear and tear, wore out the disks in my back to the point where they were susceptible to damage. I wasn’t able to play anymore.”
Kreklow had surgery to repair ruptured disks in his back on Aug. 27, three days after Rock Bridge started its fall semester. It limited his mobility for the first two weeks, which kept him from attending school.
Kreklow instead spent two weeks playing video games – Prototype and NCAA Football were his two main choices – and watching movies. He began working out eight weeks after the surgery.
The back injury was frustrating, but Kreklow said he thinks it could be beneficial. He grew about six inches in the past three years, which weakened his core muscles because he didn’t strengthen them enough during those years.
“Of course, I wish I could’ve avoided all the injuries,” Kreklow said. “But at the same time, it’s led me to realize weaknesses I did have, especially on the physical side. It makes me more aware about what’s an injury. There are plenty of things to come out of it.”
One of those was having more time to choose where he wanted to play college basketball. Kreklow planned to make his decision in late July or early August. He thought more about his commitment while unable to play at the end of July.
Kreklow received attention from Minnesota and the University of California-Berkeley, but ultimately chose Missouri on July 31.
“I just really liked the style of play MU plays,” he said. “It’s up and down but at the same time it’s controlled. It’s not total chaos. Your parents are right down the street and can watch all your games. That meant a lot for my mom and dad to not just catch a few games on TV or, if they have time, fly out and watch. That also helped my decision as well.”