She’s on track

Published 8:30 pm Saturday, June 5, 2010

Chrissy Monson just finished her first year at Albert Lea High School, a year she was as successful with a textbook as she was with her cleats.

She finished first in just about everything. Her quarterly report cards listed her as first in her class with a perfect 4.0 GPA. She was the Big Nine champion in cross country, broke the school record in the 1600 meter and won the 3200 meter handily at Big Nine, earning a conference title in both events. On Thursday at the Section 1AA meet, Monson ran her faster career 3200 meter and earned a trip to the state tournament; she looks to finish first there, too.

No doubt Monson is physically gifted. Her cross country coach Jim Haney and track coach Margo Wayne call her the best athlete they have ever coached, but she’s mature, too, and for a girl who’s experienced all this success before finishing ninth-grade, that may be more important than any time clocked on a stopwatch.

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“Chrissy has experience and maturity well beyond her years,” Wayne said. “I’ve had the luxury of watching her grow up.”

Monson, whose modesty mirrors her maturity, began running in sixth grade, just three years ago, when her Physical Education teacher, Dyann Baumann, encouraged her to run in a cross country race open to upper-elementary school students. She placed first and had an epiphany.

“I thought, ‘Oh, I’m pretty good at this I guess,’” Monson said. “Mr. Haney kept in touch and let me know he was interested. I didn’t really have anything else to do in the fall so I decided to go out for cross country.”

Monson began her new interest at the beginning of seventh-grade, running in junior high races for the first month and a half of the season. She was promoted to varsity in October and earned All-Conference honors later that month.

It was during that season that Haney knew Monson would have a bright future.

“It really made me think that this is going to be a special lady,” he said.

Monson then began running track in the spring in addition to basketball in the winter and developed a competitive attitude and strong mentality to succeed.

“Some people run and some people compete,” Wayne said. “She always has goals in mind and that helps her to be even more successful.

Monson credits the communal environment of her team to her success and ability to stay mentally prepared.

“You have to think positive and that’s where your teammates really come in,” Monson she said. “We’re a really positive and hard working group so we keep each other going and pushing through.”

Having won so many honors so young, you might assume there isn’t much more she could accomplish. Monson would tell you different.

“I think that if I’m a year older I should be a year better because I know that my competition is a year better,” she said. “I don’t want to keep winning with the same time, I want to win with a better time. I know that in order to keep my titles I have to work harder.”

But there is one title Monson is yet to claim.

“I want to become a state champion,” she said. “With the right mindset and right drive I think that nothing can stop you.”

Nothing has seemed to stop her yet but if you think she thinks running is fun, you’re wrong.

“It’s not really,” Monson said, laughing. “It’s not the running that’s fun it’s the sensation you get when you’re done. It’s looking back and knowing that you’ve accomplished something.”

Monson will try to realize her goal of becoming a state champion June 11-12 at Hamline University in St. Paul.

She has also set goals to run a five-minute mile and eleven-minute two mile; she is just eight seconds back of both marks.