How a friendly rivalry fuels future Drake volleyball player Madison Geise in discus
South Hamilton's Mackenzy Grady always gets nervous when it comes time to throw the discus at track meets.
Grady has been the top thrower in the Heart of Iowa Conference this year — she just won the conference meet championship in the girls discus on Thursday at Story City. But she's always had someone right on her tail ever since she started throwing.
Roland-Story senior Madison Geise.
“When we were younger, I was always kind of intimidated by her,” Grady said. “I always get anxious when I have to throw against her. I don’t know, there’s something about her.”
Geise placed second to Grady in the discus Thursday. Geise had a throw of 121 feet, 1 inch and Grady won with a distance of 123-11.
“I knew she had a throw farther than me, so I tried to give it my all,” Geise said. “I threw the farthest I have in a while. That was good to get back throwing farther.”
Geise loves throwing against Grady.
“It's good to have someone to push you,” Geise said. “You go to meets, and no one is there to push you, so you don’t really throw your best. When you know you’ve got to go in a throw farther it’s always a little bit of fun competitiveness.”
The two are currently among the top six throwers in Class 2A heading into next week's state qualifying meets. Grady ranks third with a peak throw of 129-8 and Geise is sixth at 123-11.
“She’s up there,” Grady said. “It just takes one throw. Her technique is incredible.”
They have thrown against each other at several meets this year. That includes last week's Drake Relays.
“It can be a little scary,” Geise said of the Relays. “It was really nice to have a face I’ve seen before."
Geise placed 14th in rainy weather during her first appearance at Drake. Her best throw was 116-5.
Grady came in 17th with a distance of 113-6.
"Drake is a great opportunity," Geise said. "It’s pretty elite and I was just honored to be there. It wasn’t the best conditions, but we all connected through that. Everyone throwing was just amazing.”
Throwing at Drake was another feather in Geise's cap as part of an outstanding senior season of competition in high school athletics.
She was an all-state setter in volleyball, finishing her career as the school's all-time leader in assists by a wide margin and also racking up impressive kill, dig, block and ace totals as one of the most well-rounded performers in the state. Geise also had her best year as a power forward in basketball, helping Roland-Story make the state tournament for the third time in four years.
“All the hard work I’ve put in and my teammates have put in is coming together,” Geise said. “It’s been a great year.”
It all led to Geise signing a letter of intent to play Division 1 women's volleyball at Drake last week.
“All of my Drake volleyball teammates got to come and watch at the Relays,” Geise said. “That was fun.”
Roland-Story head girls track coach Andy Herrick is blown away by Geise's talent, versatility and work ethic.
"She amazes me with her ability to be so great at all sports, year-round," Herrick said. "I often worry about kids being so busy and not being able to handle all of their activities. Madison is the type that can focus on the task in front of her, and then be able to switch her sport focus."
Geise is also the starting pitcher for the Roland-Story softball team. She began doing double duty this past week with softball practice starting up.
She's not alone.
Fellow senior Macy Friest has been her catcher all through high school. Friest is Roland-Story's top shot-putter during track and she also throws the discus.
“You get to this point in the year and we start seeing each other a lot more,” Friest said. “It’s always nice to have someone you can relate to a lot. We’re both doing the exact same thing. We’re always over here throwing then we go to softball practice together and we’re usually together because it’s the pitcher-catcher combo. It makes it more comfortable since it’s so chaotic with track and softball going on at the same time.”
Geise's father, Brandon Geise, is an assistant coach on the softball team. But he's also making sure she keeps her focus on the discus during track.
“Every year, I’ve just been kind of building,” Geise said. “I’ve always thrown with my dad on the weekends and seeing how that’s progressed throughout the years has been great.”
They've worked a lot on her spin this spring. It's been paying off in the discus circle.
“I always feel like I’m falling over on my spin and really getting that last little whip out there. I think I’ve really improved on the speed of it. I’ve always had a pretty throw, but it’s not always been the farthest. It’s just getting that last spin faster.”
Herrick said he saw Geise make huge strides during her junior year. She continues to make them as a senior.
"Last year, Madison improved on the 'sprint step' part of her spin, which is the part where she is stepping across the circle just before the release," Herrick said. "Coming into the year I was curious to see if she was reverting back to old habits and that would have to be a focus again, but she came in looking great. We are really focusing on her speed through the ring this year."
Geise has big goals for the end of the year.
“I’d like to place top five,” Geise said. “I’m just really trying to progress on my throws and get farther toward the end of the season. Last year I placed 19th, so I’d like to get up there a little bit more.”
Roland-Story competes in the 2A qualifying meet at Monroe next Thursday. Grady will also be there.
“Having her at the qualifying meet and state is going to be really nice,” Grady said. “I feel like she’s got a chance to shock everyone and something really special.”