As Marie Hamlin runs past you, you almost expect to hear the pounding of her heartbeat as she charges by.

That's how strongly she runs, how much drive and heart she possesses.

There are runners who perform with grace, like a deer moving across a clover field. And there are runners who rely on sheer power. That's where Hamlin fits in. There is never a sign of fatigue or emotion. Her power isn't just physical. It's just as much a tribute to her mental approach to running.

"She's just strong and constant," St. Croix Central coach Bill Emery said in describing Hamlin. "The will to succeed is unbelievable."

Hamlin won the Middle Border Conference girls cross country championship in 2018. She then won the Division 2 sectional championship and she placed fourth in the WIAA Division 2 state championship race.

That success resulted in Hamlin signing an NCAA Letter of Intent this week to run at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Hamlin has set high goals for her running and for her academic work and that's why she chose UMD.

"UMD's academic and athletic programs impressed me. The accredited chemical engineering program is highly rated and their athletic facilities are very up-to-date and well taken care of. Every other place I've visited had one or the other but UMD has both aspects impressively," Hamlin said. "I hope to work in the agricultural field and work with pesticides and herbicides."

When Hamlin puts her mind to something, nothing stops her. Remember, Hamlin finished eighth at the 2017 Middle Border Conference meet. She was the team's seventh runner as a sophomore.

Hamlin said building the quantity of miles in her training was her key. Emery had set a plan for the runners to complete 35 miles each week of the summer. Hamlin knew she needed more, so she scheduled 50 miles per week. Hamlin started running the longer distances last winter. If you want a sign of her toughness, how about the fact that she did one of her long runs when the temperature was -7. She didn't shy away from running in the worst heat of the summer, saying she needed to build that ability, knowing some meets could be run under extreme heat.

Emery said he saw Hamlin's true ability break through during the 2018 track season. Hamlin was running against 2017 MBC cross country champion Liv Moll during each track practice and the two worked together to push each other. They might end up running against each other in college, because Moll has been one of the top runners at the University of St. Thomas as a freshman.

Moll placed tenth and Hamlin 12th in the 1,600 at state. It was in the 3,200 that Hamlin took off, placing fourth to make her first trip to the state awards podium.

That success carried into cross country, where Hamlin was one of the top senior runners in the state. Her time at state was 18:45.

"She broke the school record by a minute," Emery marveled. "In cross country, that's unheard of. That's amazing."