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Emma Christensen

Created: 10/23/2013 10:49 PM KSTP.com

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Emma Christensen was never a distance runner, not until she started track in seventh grade.

"A lot of people said, 'Cross country!' And I never really thought too much about that, but now I kind of like that better than track," Christensen said.

The sophomore has become John Marshall's number one, but that would never have happened without some hard work this past summer.

"If you start out the season without running, you're playing catch-up all year, which you can never do," JM girls cross country coach Pam Davick said. "And we can use Emma as a perfect example for that."

"I just like to run. It's a good workout. I find it fun, but that's just me, I guess," Christensen said, laughing.

"She runs within herself," Davick said. "We were at one race in Mankato, where one girl went off really, really fast. And Emma knew that that girl was never going to maintain that pace. She ended up beating her by about 30 seconds, so she understands how she has to race, and what works for her."

Christensen has been on fire recently, capturing both the Rochester All-City crown, as well as the Big 9 championship.

"I was at the finish line, and I couldn't really see them, so I yelled across, 'Who's in first place?' And they said, 'The girl in the red!' And I went, 'Yes!'" Davick said.

Christensen just beat out Winona's Caitlin Domeyer, who has become a big-time rival.

"You find runners from other teams that you know, and then it's fun, but you're also competitive," Christensen said.

And even though she plays hockey for the Rockets, Christensen said she is thinking more and more about cross country these days.

"I think I'd like to run in college," Christensen said.