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Heath Hotzler, Published May 22 2009

In pursuit of perfection: West Fargo's Grooters seeks more than just victories

West Fargo junior Ellie Grooters appears flawless as she circles the track and navigates over hurdles.

Her form is impeccable and she almost always finishes far ahead of the competition.

But there is still much to work on.

“With the hurdles, as long as you focus on the technical aspect, you are going to bring your time down a lot,” said Grooters, who enters today’s North Dakota Class A state track and field meet as the two-time defending champion in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles. “Little things make a difference, adding tenths of seconds. Being off a little bit can add a lot of time.”

Grooters, who credits her time with the F-M Acro Team for helping her get over any fear of leaping obstacles on the track, hasn’t been off much this year.

She’s run the top six times in the state in the 100 hurdles, and has the top four times in the 300 hurdles.

Her 300 time of 43.04 last week in the East Region meet is believed to be the fastest ever recorded in the event in the state’s history, according to the Bismarck High School track and field records Web site. According to the site, Grooters is just the fifth in state history to break 44 seconds in the event.

The time was Grooters’ personal best by exactly one second.

“Since last year, when I ended up at 44:04, I wanted to get into the 43’s,” Grooters said. “Now, I want to get into the 42’s.

“It’s never ending.”

That’s where the training comes in.

To the untrained eye, Grooters already appears technically perfect.

She doesn’t buy it.

Grooters works every day in practice on the little things in an effort to push her time down by a fraction of a second.

A millimeter difference in where Grooters starts her leap or a tiny change to the position of her trail leg can mean a world of difference.

“She’s just an all-around great athlete,” West Fargo coach Darin McKinnon said. “She’s going to do whatever it takes to be successful.”

Grooters’ toughest competition at state should come from Bismarck High School juniors Twila Moser and Chelsey Yantzer. Moser has run 15.40 in the 100 hurdles and 45.87 in the 300 hurdles this year.

But Grooters is used to squaring off against top runners.

She’s developed a friendly rivalry in the 100 dash with Fargo South standout Laura Roesler. Roesler, who vaulted into the national spotlight last summer when she advanced to the semifinals of the 800 at the Olympic Trials, set the East Region 100 record last week with a time of 12.12.

“She’s always going to push herself to get that one step better,” McKinnon said of Grooters. “She’s never satisfied with where she is at. You look at someone like Laura Roesler, someone nationally known. I think what Laura and Ellie do for each other is make each other better. It does a lot for track and field in the state, it does a lot for track and field in the region.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com