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The Drill: Exceptional cc runner Gehl still has much to accomplish

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FULDA -- It is a true reward to see a high school athlete accomplish more than one truly exceptional season.

Often-times, top performers don’t begin to dominate the field until their senior campaigns.

Sometimes it happens that an athlete dominates for two years, maybe even three. Usually when they do, you can pick them out in a lineup as the exceptional athlete in the bunch.

Morgan Gehl, however, is a spritely girl. Seems fairly normal, in fact, to look at her or to talk to her.

But normal is a relative term. Gehl is not normal as a runner. Last year as a freshman at Fulda High School running with Murray County Central, she placed fourth in the Minnesota state Class A cross country meet in a time of 18:35.1, to conclude an autumn where she won nine of 11 races. The previous year, as an eighth-grader, she placed eighth in the state meet.

Now as a sophomore (yes, only a sophomore) she’s in line to produce another exceptional cross country season. She hopes to break the 18-minute mark at some point, and you can’t bet against her. Despite her light frame, she’s a heavyweight runner. And all her rivals know it.

Gehl, who also competes in basketball and track and field, first became interested in running long distances because her aunt, Julie Kramer, was highly successful at it during her years at FHS. Now, after so many races and so many victories, Morgan still says she gets a few pre-meet butterflies.

“Yeah, I do get nervous before a race. My stomach feels a little weird,” she said. “When I start a race, it goes away.”

The Globe interviewed Morgan for The Drill recently, and we also talked to her mother, Faye, who filled in a few of the details for her humble daughter. It was Faye who provided some impressive details to us about Morgan’s exceptional abilities in another field of study, piano.

You can see the video online at Here is a sample of the interview:

QUESTION: Morgan, how do you like to train for your cross country races?

ANSWER: “I like to train by running up hills. And that gives me more strength, I think. It wears me out a little bit, but I can feel it in my legs. So that means it’s working for me.”

QUESTION: What are your tactics, typically, for a race?

ANSWER: “I like to go out front first in regular meets, and I really try to kick it in at the end, I kind of have a sense at where people are around me, and I can hear them breathing. When I hear the other runners breathing, it shows me where they’re at.”

QUESTION: Faye, do you have a favorite memory of your daughter’s running experiences?

ANSWER: “One time she was ahead of everybody. This was a meet in Slayton at the golf course. I said, ‘Morgan, you were in front, there was no one to push you. There was no one there.’ And she said to me, ‘Oh, I had somebody pushing me.’ I said, ‘Who? Who was pushing you?’ She said, ‘I was following the golf cart.’”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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