Athlete of the week - Grace Ping - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Athlete of the week - Grace Ping

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WINONA, Minn. (KTTC) - Every once in a while an athlete comes along that is simply in a class of their own. Grace Ping is that athlete.

"She's as talented a runner as we've ever had," Cotter cross country head coach Mike Costello said. "It's kind of one of those things that falls in your lap as a coach that you have a kid with a special talent like that."

It's been quite the journey for the cross country star this year. Two weeks ago, she took first place in the Section 1A girls race finishing in 17:48, an incredible 2:02 faster than second place. On Saturday, Ping won the girls Class A state championship in 17:52. All of this as only a seventh grader. Now she's the youngest cross country state champion Minnesota has ever seen.

"It felt really good," Ping said of her accomplishment. "But I was tired."

Rightfully so. 40 miles of training every single week will do that to you. So how does Ping stay ahead of the competition at such a young age?

"Sometimes I have songs stuck in my head," she said. "One time in school we were doing the preamble and we had this song and during our Plainview meet, in my head was the song to the preamble constitution."

If it works, it works. Ping recorded her fastest career time in that meet 17:23. After so many accomplishments at such a young age, it's hard not to wonder what the future will bring for Ping.

"I want to be an Olympian runner," Ping said.

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