Making Up for Lost Time
Geurkink Wins Four Events in Recent Masters Competition
Katrina Guerkink of Lebanon gets a hand carrying her gear from coach Carl Wallin, left, after working out with Thor's Stone Athletic Club at the Elks Club in Lebanon Friday, July 19, 2013. Geurkink has power, explosive quickness and is smart, said Wallin. "You can't be a dummy and throw far," he said. Valley News - James M. Patterson email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Lebanon — Katrina Geurkink’s vocation as a manager of quality and process improvement at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center can involve long hours and demanding attention to detail. Getting to the recent USA Track & Field Masters Outdoors Championships in Olathe, Kan., was equally exhausting and intense.
With her original flight out of Boston canceled due to bad weather, the 52-year old Geurkink waited for a red-eye to Chicago, where she slept on an airport bench for 90 minutes before continuing on a 5:45 a.m. flight from the Windy City to Kansas.
Her first event, the hammer throw, was scheduled for 8:30 that same morning.
“I got there just in time to change in the bathroom, 20 minutes before competing,” Geurkink recalled of day one of MOCs on July 13. “It was pretty intense.”
So were Geurkink’s results. The former Hanover High and University of Vermont throwing standout won four events and earned five top 5s to lead Lebanon-based Thor’s Stone Athletic Club in scoring.
Coached by former Dartmouth College field events coach Carl Wallin, Thor’s Stone finished 24th out of nearly 150 teams competing from all parts of the nation.
Geurkink recorded season-best distances during her virtual sweep of throwing events in the women’s 50-54 age group, including first-place marks in the 3-kilo hammer (personal record 113 feet, 1 inch), 1-kilo discus (104-5), 3-kilo shot put (36-4.75) and 16-pound weight throw (personal record 35-6.5). She also scored points with a javelin heave of 75-7.5, good for fourth place.
The marks were an expansive improvement for Geurkink, who participated only in the discus and shot put — finishing third and fourth respectively — at the MOCs in 2012.
“I knew I was capable of these kinds of results, but it’s never a guarantee,” said Geurkink, who was challenged in the shot put by New York’s Caryl Senn-Griffiths (35-4.5) and in the weight throw by Madison, Wis., resident Kim Virden (31-9.5) while winning the other two events by roughly 15 feet apiece.
“There was some good competition, and it was hot for the (afternoon events). The javelin, I knew would be a long shot (to win) because there was great competition there and I had only practiced it once and thrown it in a couple meets.”
Wallin wasn’t surprised at Geurkink’s excellence. He’s been aware of her abilities for some time, having introduced her to throwing when she was a Marauder in the late 1970s and helping her establish a one-time high school state shot put mark of 44 feet.
“I’d say only five percent of the population has the type of desire she has to be really good,” he said. “Here’s just one example of how strong she is: Last year we had a fundraiser meet for the (Lebanon) Elks Club and she’d done no weight training for years. One of the events was the bench press and I accidentally put too much weight on the bar, about 175 pounds, and she did it easily. That’s the type of strength she has.”
After graduating from Hanover in 1979, Geurkink walked on at UVM and went on to set a school record with a shot put throw of 46-01, since broken.
Returning to the Upper Valley to train with Wallin after graduating with a degree in psychology, Geurkink narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympic trails for the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. She spent three months backpacking around Europe, but even overseas she couldn’t resist throwing.
“I was in Greece, and by chance I encountered the Greek national team or the Olympic team, I can’t remember exactly which,” Geurkink said. “It was this totally ad hoc thing, but they let me join them for their practice for one night and it was really fun.”
Returning to Burlington, Geurkink spent a few years working in computer programming training, all the while helping lead outdoor adventure groups on the side.
She went on to own her own consulting practice for 12 years before moving to the Seattle area to be an internal consultant in hospitals. She returned to the Upper Valley for the post at DHMC — where her father, Nathan, had been a surgeon — in April 2012.
Now having practiced throwing again for more than a year, Geurkink is hoping to improve efficiency in the circle by adding spinning and gliding maneuvers to her release repertoire in the shot put.
“I’ll have to be in a little bit better shape before I start doing those things, but they’re things I intend to work on,” said Geurkink. “Throwing is about strength, but it’s just as much about finesse and flexibility.”
Geurkink qualified for the National Senior Games in Cleveland, which began Friday, but isn’t attending because, as she said plainly, “I’m in the middle of buying a house.”
Yet she has no plans to relent on her training while enjoying the reliable tutelage of Wallin and the motivational presence of her Thor’s Stone teammates.
“It’s been really interesting to do all of this work in an older body. It’s not like when you’re young and can do 100 throws at a time... I owe so much of (the success) to Thor’s Stone. There are a lot of great people there who just go after it.”
Jared Pendak can be reached at email@example.com.