Every single runner in the entire state of Minnesota is chasing Winona Cotter cross country star Grace Ping. Ping has dominated the high school circuit this season, finishing 2nd at the prestigious Roy Griak Race, and setting the Mayo Invite course record by a mind boggling 92 seconds. but Ping doesn't seem to mind the target on her back.
"There are positives and negatives to it. Sometimes, it's a little annoying I guess, but I try to think of it as people more believing in me."
Running runs in Ping's blood -- quite literally -- and it's a sport that has been near and dear to her heart from a young age.
"My mom was a runner in high school and college, it just kind of became a family thing we just did. I would say the first time I realized like 'oh this is something that I could be doing for a while' --Ii mean, this is really young -- but when I was eight I got a state record and that really motivated me to get going."
Pushing yourself past your mental and physical limitations is not easy, but it's how you win races, and Cotter head coach Mike Costello thinks it's the mental edge that sets Ping apart.
"She does have a lot of confidence, she doesn't get rattled. She's lost races before as you know... she handles pressure really well, and is a great example for the rest of our team in terms of just daily preparation. She definitely got the killer instinct on the course that sometimes you might not see that in her personality."
Ping added: "Running is hard. So you really just have to push through the pain. I mean, nothing is going to happen without hard work and you just have to suck it up."
Grace Ping, fresh off winning the Mayo Invite and finishing second at the Roy Griak Invitational, is this weeks KTTC Newscenter Sports Athlete of the Week.