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Published May 30 2010

ND state track: West Fargo's Grooters wraps up career in fitting fashion

BISMARCK – West Fargo senior Ellie Grooters has been all smiles for most of her prep track and field career. And Saturday was no different.

It didn’t matter that there was pressure to perform, or that this was the final time Grooters would step onto the track at the Community Bowl for the North Dakota state meet.

As usual, Grooters appeared to be having the time of her life.

She gave the crowd plenty to smile about, too.

Grooters cemented her legacy as one of the top hurdlers in North Dakota prep history with wins in the 100- and 300-meter events for the fourth consecutive year.

She finished her career with 11 individual state titles.

“It’s kind of hard to believe. Earlier they were asking me how many straight years I’ve won the hurdles titles,” said Grooters, who is headed to the University of Nebraska next year. “I had to count it on my fingers. And four just didn’t seem right. It didn’t seem like it had been that long.”

Grooters started her climb to the top as a Packers seventh-grader.

The former F-M Acro Team gymnast advanced to state in her first varsity season. She made it to the hurdles finals at state the following year.

It’s been sweeps ever since.

Grooters said she didn’t even think of herself as a track and field athlete – because gymnastics was her first love – until her sophomore season.

“It took awhile,” she said. “For awhile they were pretty close, gymnast and track athlete. But probably my sophomore year I solidified being a track athlete.”

Grooters wasn’t just a winner. She was dominant for much of her career.

And when matched up against the best in the state throughout the years, Grooters seemed to come up with some of her best performances.

On Saturday, Grooters broke her own record in the 300 hurdles with a time of 42.51. Her previous mark of 43.03 was set last year.

Grooters won the 100 hurdles with a time of 14.92. Bismarck’s Twila Moser was second at 15.10.

“We’re so proud of her. She’s meant more to this program than any other athlete I’ve been around,” West Fargo coach Darin McKinnon said. “She’ll be missed but we wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors. She’s just an overall great kid.”

Grooters said she’s excited to start the next chapter of her track and field career at Nebraska.

Grooters’ attention to detail and work ethic will help maintain the level of success she has enjoyed at the North Dakota state meet, McKinnon said.

Grooters said she’s honored to have made her mark on North Dakota track and field.

“It’s cool that this chapter is closing and I’m going on,” Grooters said. “But I think that this chapter – going through everything in North Dakota state track and field – it will be a little hard to say goodbye.”

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