MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Jennifer Suter is the future of the American military. All 5-foot-5, 125 pounds of her is headed to West Point.

“West Point is just a place where you put your mental toughness, as well as your physical toughness, together to form a great leader,” said Suter, who fits that description to a T.

Suter has been a captain on Apple Valley’s track team for two years now. That’s enough leadership for most, but Suter also serves on the student council, went to state on the debate team and is in the National Honor Society. She even plays in the school jazz band.

“Jen’s just a natural go-getter,” said Heather Kampf, who coaches AV’s distance runners. “She really doesn’t shy away from a challenge, so any opportunity that we give her to push herself and kind of find what she’s made of, she’s just interested to go there.”

Like in the fall, while most distance runners compete in cross country, Suter plays football. It’s a role that requires a very different kind of leadership. Not a glamorous one, but an important one, running the scout team defense, which helps Apple Valley’s offense prepare by imitating the upcoming opponent.

“Just invaluable,” said Jeff Flugum, AV’s offensive coordinator, “for us to get prepared for games for the next week.”

Go figure, she was captain of the scout team.

“I know I’m not the best, I know I’m not the strongest,” Suter said. “But I know that I had a place on that team, and I would do whatever I could to help my team.”

Being a girl on the football team has prepared her well for being a girl at West Point.

“Yeah, it’s like a 1-to-5 ratio,” Suter said with a laugh. “So that doesn’t bother me at all. I’m kind of used to it.”

And she’s prepared her for her chosen pursuit — military intelligence.

“Military intelligence is obviously not infantry — I’m not going to be on the front lines,” Suter said. “But I think that is kind of the more background role to the military in general. That’s where my football experience has come in, taking that back seat, not necessarily being the one out there shooting people, but the one who’s making sure that everything’s safe and sound.”

The kind of leader any team would want.

“If you had a school full of Jennifers,” Flugum said, “we’d be a lot better society.”

Getting into West Point isn’t easy. You have to be nominated by a member of Congress. Suter was nominated by Rep. John Kline.

Suter said being born as one of three triplets motivates her to achieve, in order to distinguish herself from her sisters who look just like her.

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