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The Drill: Luverne's Tenley Nelson has remarkable staying-power

Tenley Nelson is no late-bloomer when it comes to excellence at the varsity level of sports. She was a state performer as early as her eighth-grade year, and now as a senior she continues making lasting memories.

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LUVERNE -- Tenley Nelson is no late-bloomer when it comes to excellence at the varsity level of sports. She was a state performer as early as her eighth-grade year, and now as a senior she continues making lasting memories.

We thought it was time to acknowledge such continuing excellence in a high school athlete, so this week we’re making Nelson the first repeat performer on the already long list of Drill recipients The Globe has featured.

The first time we featured Nelson in The Drill was when she was a freshman on the LHS cross country team -- way back on Oct. 3, 2018 . She had already run at the 2017 state meet, where she placed fifth. Since then, she has become part of three state championship 4x800-meter relay teams at Luverne High School -- all the while struggling with occasional bouts of asthma issues, which she has learned to cope with like the winner that she is.

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Nelson would be the first to tell you that she’s fortunate to live in Luverne , where outstanding running teams have become the norm. She has been blessed to learn from dedicated coaches and dedicated fellow student-athletes -- all of which Luverne has in abundance. She knows how difficult it is, for instance, to win just one, if not three, state championship relay events in the spring.

“I think it’s pretty hard to compete at a high level in a relay because, to do your best in a relay and to have team success, it requires everybody to be on, like perfect, on the same day, which is really hard to do,” she said recently.

On Saturday, Nelson continued her cross country expertise with a second-place finish in the Class A girls competition at St. OIaf College in Northfield. Before the meet, we did our second Drill interview with her. You can see the video above. Here’s a sample:

QUESTION: As a runner, how have you learned to deal with your asthma?

ANSWER: “With my asthma, I really have to just focus and make sure to not let my breathing get out of control. If I feel like I start to panic a little bit, I try to slow down and take a couple of deep breaths, and that has really helped this season, I think. I’ve experienced trouble breathing in, I’d say, quite a few races. And my teammates can definitely attest to that, I think. It’s not really scary, it’s just more like, ‘Shoot.’”

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QUESTION: What makes the Luverne cross country program so successful?

ANSWER: “I think what makes our cross country program successful is just our strong team bond. When you are close to these people, you want to do your best for them and you’re willing to put yourself through a lot more pain and to push a lot harder. To do your best for them as opposed to just doing your best for yourself.”

QUESTION: Have you made future plans?

ANSWER: “After I graduate I plan on going to college and going into physical therapy, and I also plan on continuing my track and cross country careers in college.”

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