Crookston High School senior Katherine Geist was named the Pirate Female Athlete of the Year during the senior recognition banquet held online Monday evening.   Katherine competed in eight state competitions, five cross country state meets, and three state track meets. While the seven state appearances are beyond impressive, an injury made her miss two opportunities, and the COVID-19 pandemic made her miss what could have been her 10th and final state appearance at the Minnesota State High School League Track meet. 

In seventh grade, Geist advanced to state in cross country and finished 61st place.  It was a thrill just to make it to state, but finishing 61st was great, and it gave Katherine even more fuel to work harder. “That was super valuable.  I never expected to make it to state in seventh grade, and I had no idea that was even going to be a possibility,” said Geist. “After that, I set some tough goals for myself.  I decided I wanted to make it to state every year through my senior year.  I think making it to state my seventh grade year made me set some lofty goals for myself.”   She made it to state as an eighth, ninth, and 10th grader.  In track, Katherine advanced to state in two events as a freshman.  As a sophomore, she returned to state and finished sixth place in the 3200 meters, and seventh place in the 1600 meter race.
As a junior, Katherine won every cross country race in the fall, including the Section 8A championship to advance to the state meet.  She finished ninth place for her best finish at the state meet. “It was crazy,” said Geist.  “I worked so hard, harder than I ever had, and the momentum kind of just kept going, and I was so happy I was able to finish in a good place at state.”

Katherine came out strong in the spring of her junior year and was dominating every 1600 and 3200 race she ran, winning races by large margins.  She cruised to two sub-section victories and was a heavy favorite to win both races at the Section 8A track meet in East Grand Forks.  Two days before the section track meet, she fractured her big toe. “Two days before, I had cracked my toe because it had been hurting for a few weeks, my big toe.  I actually fractured my big toe in two places, which sounds like a ridiculous injury, but it is very hard, I found, to walk, let alone run.”

Katherine tried to run the 1600 meters (one mile) race, and things started fine, but about the third lap (out of 4), she physically couldn’t take the pain anymore.  “Overall, that was probably the hardest thing I have done in my life, that section race.  It was really hard, but I was glad I was able to finish that mile race,” said Geist. “It was kind of a crazy race.  I had a ton of adrenaline going, my toe hurt really bad during warm-ups, and once the race started, I couldn’t feel anything, and then I think it was the third lap it just hit me, and I don’t remember when I got passed or who passed me.”  The amazing part of the race was Katherine finished the race and finished fourth place!!  Going into the season, Katherine was hoping to get on the podium and beat the sixth and seventh place finishes she had her sophomore year and not getting a chance to beat her personal best finishes was hard on her. “It was tough.  It was really, really hard.  I worked so hard all winter.  I ran and trained every single day after cross country season dreaming about track season with all my goals for state,” said Geist. “It hit me really hard after.”

Not getting a chance to get back to state to finish her high school career has been hard. “It’s hard.  I think I have been slowly accepting it while finding different things and different running goals to accomplish on my own.  I kind of lost something I really love for the past year and a half,” said Geist. “I had a lot of goals going into my senior year of track season. I had a lot I wanted to prove to myself and to everybody.  I have been training super hard, cross-training all summer and winter getting ready for track season.  It feels like a loss that I won’t be able to compete this year.”

Geists running career has been a roller coaster, but it will end with good news because she will be competing in cross country and track next year at Carleton College in Northfield, the same school, her sister Marietta ran cross country and track. “I will be running cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track, so I will be running year-round,” said Geist. “Knowing I will be able to compete again makes it a little easier.”

Geist will major in biology or cognitive science on a pre-med track.  “I am super excited,” said Geist.


Katherine had an outstanding high school track career with two trips to state, and she missed out on her final two years because of injury and COVID-19.  “She is a hard worker, she is dedicated, she is motivated, she has goals, and she has athleticism,” said Crookston Pirate Girls Track Coach Amy Boll. “It was an unfortunate thing that happened to her last year.  It broke my heart to see her go through that.  I teared up when she asked why, why it was happening to her in the medical tent.”
Coach Boll said she is honored to have the opportunity to coach Geist. “I am so proud to have had the opportunity to coach her,” said Boll. “I am fortunate to have had her be a leader on our team.  I am excited to see what she will do in college.”

State Track Meet –
7th grade – Part of the 7th place 4×800 relay
9th grade – Ran the 800 and 4×800 relay
10th grade – 6th in the 3200 and 7th place in the 1600
11th grade – Injury – tried running the 1600, but wasn’t able to finish
12th grade – No season


Katherine ran Cross Country since seventh grade and made it to state all five years she ran.  The dedication she showed was unparalleled.  “Cross Country was definitely a huge part of my life, and I still consider it a huge part of my life because it has shaped me into who I am today,” said Geist. “It was a great overall experience.  My team was wonderful, my coaches were wonderful.  Over the five years, I grew as a runner and as a person as I met new people.”   She would get a ride to East Grand Forks to practice and train with the East Grand Forks Green Wave coaches and team, and not only is she a great athlete, but she is also a great kid.  “She is the nicest kid you will ever meet, but when she gets to the starting line and when she gets in her race, she is a tremendously fierce competitor,” said East Grand Forks Cross Country Coach Kirk Misialek. “She works as hard as anybody that I have ever coached.  She would always want to get in with the guys to push herself and make her a better runner.”

State Cross Country meet appearances and place-
7th grade – 61st place
8th grade – 38th place
9th grade – 17th place
10th grade – 51st place
11th grade – 9th place
12th grade – Injury

Katherine won every Cross County meet, including the Section 8A meet her junior year and finished ninth at state capping an outstanding career.  She wasn’t able to run her senior year because of injury. “All that hard work that she puts in.  She does a lot of running on her own and piles up the miles in the summer.  I would pit her against anybody as far as hard work and being a competitor,” said Misialek. “We had hoped she would be able to run the cross country season this year, and one week turned to three weeks, and then maybe she can run in the section meet, and it never panned out.”
Misialek said Geist was the person he thought about when they made the announcement to cancel the season. “She made it to state all five years she was able to run,” said Coach Misialek. “I know she is going to run in college, but I am glad she will have a chance to compete at the next level.”

Katherine was a member of the Crookston High School Envirothon team that competed at state.  She was also involved in Knowledge Bowl, River Watch, Student Council, honor roll, and she plays the piano and violin.

The full interview with Katherine is below – 


The full interview from Coach Misialek is below –