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Jeff Kolpack, Published May 08 2013

Sprinter John has found a home with the Bison

Fargo - To hear Deborah John describe her home country of Trinidad is a little bit like listening to a travel agency commercial. Words like “tropical” and “sunny” are common.

So what in the world is she doing at North Dakota State?

Relishing the experience, thank you. Predictably, the first sight of snow was shocking. The cold temperatures are even more shocking. But if winning provides natural heat, then John has survived just nicely at a climate far away.

“The weather tried to scare me away,” she said.

It didn’t succeed. The Bison sprinter will be in Muncie, Ind., today along with the rest of her teammates to try and help NDSU to a sixth straight title at the Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

The Bison, who have won all 10 indoor and outdoor titles since joining the Summit, are once again favorites, and they keep doing it every year getting athletes from all walks of life. In John’s case, NDSU head coach Ryun Godfrey got an assist from Matt Bingle, the head coach at the University of Minnesota.

The Gophers didn’t have room for John in their recruitment of her, but he suggested NDSU as a possibility. She had the resume, having competed in the 2009 Junior Pan American Games for Trinidad.

“Most of the athletes there train hard to get a scholarship to come over here and study because we see the States as having more opportunities to help us develop,” John said.

Through phone conversations, NDSU was able to land John, although Godfrey jokes he should have gone on a recruiting trip.

“She knew of a couple of her teammates that were going to Minnesota and I said we’re close to Minnesota,” he said. “When she got here, she said it wasn’t close but I told her in this country, it is close.”

John has dealt with some nagging hip and hamstring injuries, but has been healthy enough to win four Summit indoor titles. She’s still in search of her first outdoor individual win.

She has the top qualifying time in the

100-meter hurdles, an event that she didn’t do in high school. The original thought, Godfrey said, was to make her a heptathlon athlete – and that’s where they saw John’s powerful stride over the hurdles.

“There were a lot of bumps and crashes to begin with,” Godfrey said.

The end result has been an experience that has exceeded her expectations, John said. Her time of 13.53 seconds at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif., broke Whitney Carlson’s school record and is the fourth-fastest time of any 100 hurdler from Trinidad in the past calendar year.

“People always ask me why I chose to come to NDSU, but it’s where I am and I’ve grown to love it here,” she said.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia