Katherine Geist found herself in unfamiliar territory on the track Friday.
With one-and-a-half laps to go, Thompson's Lana Krack passed Geist. Krack is a standout, having won the 1,600 and 3,200 titles last season at the North Dakota Class B high school track meet. But Geist was up to the head-to-head challenge.
Krack maintained a narrow lead until the final 100 meters. There Geist burst back into the lead and hung on to win the 3,200 at the East Grand Forks Senior High Invitational track meet.
The competitive race was a challenge Geist enjoyed.
"I haven't been behind in a lot of races before,'' said the Crookston High School junior, who also won the 1,600 at the meet. "It was fun. That definitely motivated me. It pushed me.''
Geist usually concentrates more on running against the clock rather than the opposition. She hasn't lost to a fellow Minnesota Section 8A runner in the 3,200 since her freshman season. Geist hasn't lost to an 8A opponent in the 1,600 this season.
"I'm used to running in smaller meets,'' Geist said. "I'm usually pushing myself against the clock. But that's not as motivating as this. It's a lot easier to push yourself when there's another good runner.''
Geist has put up some impressive numbers. She holds Crookston school records in the 800 and 1,600 indoors and the 1,600 and 3,200 outdoors. Crookston coach Amy Boll said Geist is on track to break the Pirates' 800 outdoor mark as well this spring.
"Kat's motivation is internal,'' Boll said. "She sets goals. She works to obtain them. If she misses her goal even by just a second in a race, she feels she didn't run a good race. She has natural talent. And she's worked really hard to achieve her goals.''
Knowing the competitiveness of Geist, Boll welcomed the challenge of running against one of North Dakota's premier distance runners.
"I knew that would push Kat,'' Boll said. "She's the type who responds, who will give that much more.''
The success of Geist has achieved reaches beyond the Section 8A area. She finished ninth at last November's state cross country meet. At the Class A state track meet last June, Geist placed sixth in the 3,200 and seventh in the 1,600.
While PRs are a big part of the running world, Geist is eyeing place.
"If I get back to state and run a great time, I'll be happy,'' she said. "But I really want to beat my places at state from that year.''
Towards that goal, she runs 45 miles a week. That's down from the cross country season, when Geist was logging 55 miles a week.
"I took a week off after cross country,'' she said. "But I didn't like that. I'm so used to being active. I don't like sitting around.
"I get sore from all the running sometimes. My body does get run down. But I love running.''