Katherine Geist, Aleece Durbin, Mason Wang and Lukas Meier each competed in their respective events.
The Crookston Pirates sent four athletes to the State Track and Field Meet at Hamline University in St. Paul. In day one of the running, jumping, throwing and vaulting epic, sophomore Katherine Geist made personal and school history in the 3200m, senior Aleece Durbin advanced in the 100m hurdles and senior Mason Wang and junior Lukas Meier each competed in the 100m and pole vault respectively.
To close out the Crookston portion of the first day, two-time section champion Geist ran with the best in the state for the two mile. Geist hung with the second group battling for fourth, fifth and sixth place throughout the race. In the final lap, Geist maintained her position in sixth and crossed the finish line at 11:13.55. The time broke Geist's personal record as well as the school's record which dates back to 1985.
“I am super excited,” Geist said following her race. “I went out and wanted to run my PR and get on the podium and I did both. I just tried to stick with girls I knew were going to push me to run my best. I used the momentum from the crowd and the stage. All those people cheering super loud pushed me to run as fast as I could. I’m planning to put this race totally behind me and just focus on the mile, hydrate, eat some pasta and hopefully be ready for the mile tomorrow.”
Section runner-up Durbin, competing in the 100m hurdles and the triple jump, raced in the hurdles on day one. With all racers split into two heats, Durbin placed fifth in her heat with a time of 15.85. Nine athletes qualify for the finals and Durbin snagged the eighth spot to continue her hurdling career.
“I definitely thought I had a chance,” Durbin said on advancing to the finals. “I knew I was going to have to run fast and have a clean race and that’s what I did. I was just trying to relax and get over the hurdles cleanly and when I crossed the finish line, I was really lunging. I was a little hesitant. I didn’t think I was going to make it, but once the second heat finished I saw I made it and I was excited. Tomorrow, I’ll try and do the same think and hopefully get on the podium.”
After the conclusion of her athletes' first day at state, Head Coach Amy Boll commended their performance and looks forward to another day.
“What great athletes I have,” Boll said. “Aleece did a great job today advancing on tomorrow. She’s going to have a big day in the finals and in triple jump. We’re also very excited for Katherine to finish in sixth place and have a personal record and breaking a school record.”
On the boys' side, section runner-up Wang ran in the first heat of three for the 100m. Wang crossed the finish line at 11.69 to finish fourth in his heat, but did not rank in the top nine to advance to the finals. Wang ended the day in 17th place.
After Wang's final act as a Crookston Pirate, the college track-bound senior evaluated his final performance and looked back on his high school career.
“I came out of my blocks alright and I just ran and didn’t really think about anything,” Wang said. “I just wanted to have fun. My first year here, I knocked a guy over and our relay got to run by ourselves so that kind of got me into the experience of state that anything can happen. My upperclassmen made me into the athlete that I am today and that’s what I tried to do to the younger kids. It was a good way to wrap it all up.”
Head Coach Wayne Folkers enjoyed watching the multi-state qualifier run his final race as a Pirate and wishes Wang the best in his college career.
“He ran 11.69 which is a little bit faster than I can run,” Folkers joked. “Mason has been down here four straight years and he’s shown for four years that he can do it. Even though he’s not going on to finals, it was fun to watch him run here for his senior year. I’m happy he’s going on to run in college at [University of Wisconsin] Eau Claire. But on the same token, it’s hard to lose somebody of that caliber.”
Pole vault champion for Section 8A Lukas Meier began his event at the commencement of the afternoon session. Meier cleared the opening height of 11 feet, but could not get past the following height of 11-06 and ended his day without placing.
“It could’ve went better,” Meier said. “I was getting too deep in the pit. I cleared the opening and I went for 11-06 and I was using my older pole which is a little bit more flexible. It kept shooting me deep in there. On my third attempt, I tried switching to the new one which is more stiff and I couldn’t get in the pit with it.”
Folkers admitted to expecting a higher placing for Meier, but looks forward to seeing Meier's performances in his senior year in 2019.
“Lukas just wasn’t hitting as far as pole vault goes,” Folkers said. “He wasn’t swinging all the way through. I know he can vault better, but at the same time, he’s here at state, he’s made a height so I think we look forward to him coming back next year.”
Both Geist and Durbin will compete in day two of the state meet. Durbin will battle for the podium in triple jump at 3:30 p.m. and race for the top nine spots in the 100m hurdles at 4:20 p.m. Geist will end the Crookston Pirate track and field season when she runs in the 1600m at 5:13 p.m.
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