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Kirsten Axelsson is used to being one of many.

With her humble fortitude and steady perseverance, this freshman on the cross country team has found a way to make herself stand out.

In her first three collegiate races, Axelsson made her way from a 12th place finish, to a top 10, and finally to runner-up status in her latest showing —  and she’s not done yet.

“It was a good race, I think,” Axelsson said. “I’m not that happy with the time, but of course I’m happy with getting second. But I think that I can do better.”

Axelsson finished her 5K at the Moccasin Invitational Sep. 26 at 19:30.70, coming in second place out of 77 competitors. Though she was unhappy with her time, Axelsson’s score helped bring the Panthers to a third place finish out of eight teams.

Axelsson has been running for almost her whole life, but until three years ago the only running she did was in the summer. For the rest of the year she was up in the snow, on a pair of skis.

The Swedish native from Skänninge switched from cross country skiing to running when she realized not only that was she better at it, but that it was more fun for her.

“To be a very good skier, you have to have really good technique,” she said, “and I don’t think I like that so much.”

Axelsson said she likes to train hard but would rather focus on improving herself and her times than work on specific techniques.

In preparing for her first collegiate season, Axelsson said she trained a lot over the summer. The transition from practicing at home to practicing on a rigorous college schedule was not a hard one for her.

Axelsson said she has always trained rather hard and would even run farther distances when training at home than she does for training on the FIT team.

Coming to study in the U.S. means more to Axelsson than just developing in her sport. She wanted to do something different, to get a new experience and meet new people.

So far, Florida and the Florida Tech community have had a good impression on her.

“People are very nice here,” Axelsson said. “You always hold open doors and say good morning or say hello to each other. It’s a little bit different than home because we don’t do that.”

Axelsson has also spent some time at the beach, saying that she likes the beach here because back home it’s not often that they get good beach weather.

More than the beach and the nice people, Axelsson’s best experience to date is getting to travel for away races with the whole team.

Her latest team travel experience was to Tallahassee, Florida for the FSU Invitational where she came in with yet another impressive top-10 placement at 19:03.60. Axelsson was the first Sunshine State Conference runner to cross the finish line, coming in seventh place in front of 100 other competitors.