The Top 12 Girls Athletes To Watch At NXR Heartland

7. Lauren Peterson, Farmington

Lauren Peterson presents a curious case as far as how to view her as an NXN contender. On the one hand, she qualified in 2016 -- ultimately finishing 30th at NXN -- and was the 25th-place runner at Foot Locker Nationals as well.

However, the reigning Minnesota Gatorade Runner of the Year has been having a slightly mystifying season.

She had a bout with strep throat in September that forced her to miss some races, and has only run better than 19:30 on three occasions. However, like her teammate Fenske, she might be starting to come alive when it matters most. Her section and state performances have both looked much like last year's form, and with her national experience on her side, she may hold a mental edge over many other athletes.