Girls Track: Bakken runs to NAIA All-American honors

Former Rochelle student-athlete Katherine Bakken (right) earned All-American honors in two events for the University of St. Francis track and field team during the 2022 NAIA Women’s Outdoor National Championships this past month. (Courtesy photo)

RTHS alum competing in track and cross country at the University of St. Francis

Former Rochelle student-athlete Katherine Bakken was eager to compete in the 10,000-meter run for the first time as she prepared for her junior season with the University of St. Francis track and field team. Already an experienced athlete in the 5000-meter run, Bakken flourished in the 10,000-meter event, bringing home NAIA All-American honors at the 2022 NAIA Women’s Outdoor National Championships, which were held in Gulf Shores, Alabama this past month. 

Bakken took fifth out of 28 runners nationally in the 10,000-meter run, finishing with a time of 36:32.55 to earn All-American honors. Bakken’s experience at the three-day national meet wasn’t done, however, with the Fighting Saints moving her into the starting lineup for the 3200-meter relay team, which placed eighth and earned All-American status with a time of 9:47.57. Originally an alternate runner, Bakken was asked to fill in shortly before the race.

“It felt like all of my work had come to fruition to earn All-American honors in the 10K, especially because it was only the second time I raced that distance,” Bakken said. “I really loved helping my team out in the 3200-meter relay because it showed we’re all willing to do the extra work.”

Bakken has spent three years with the St. Francis women’s track and field team. Her indoor season culminated with a Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference title in the 5000-meter run and a ninth-place performance in the 5000-meter run at the NAIA Women’s Indoor National Championships earlier this year. A CoSIDA Academic All-District Team honoree this year, Bakken’s goals for her senior season include earning All-American status once again.

“My junior track season was really exciting because I was able to try the 10K and I became an All-American in an unfamiliar event,” Bakken said. “I’m looking forward to being more successful next year and trying to earn All-American honors again. I thought my mental strength really improved this season and racing 5K events throughout the season helped me improve there.”

Bakken, who also competes for the St. Francis women’s cross country team, has now earned All-American honors four times throughout her three-year athletic career with the Fighting Saints. After helping the cross country team win the 2020 NAIA Women’s National Championship, Bakken concluded her junior season as an All-American once again, finishing 28th overall with a time of 18:12.5 at the 2021 NAIA Women’s National Championship.

“Earning All-American honors in cross country for the second time was really exciting because I worked alongside my teammates all season,” Bakken said. “My cross country season was one of the most fun seasons I’ve had because it was the first time that my teammate Daly [Galloway] and I were really healthy. My goal for next season is to place higher at the national meet. My overall experience at St. Francis has been great. I love spending time with my running family.”

Bakken currently studies medical laboratory science at the University of St. Francis. With her education, The former Lady Hub standout said she plans to pursue a career in a clinic lab.