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Husker do: Packers star Grooters commits to Nebraska

West Fargo's Ellie Grooters clears the last hurdle before winning the 100-meter event during the North Dakota state track and field championships last spring. Dave Wallis/The Pioneer

Entering her senior year at West Fargo High School, track star Ellie Grooters will attempt to defend her North Dakota state Class A 100- and 300-meter hurdle titles for the fourth time this spring.

After that, she's off to the University of Nebraska, for which Grooters made a commitment on Dec. 17.

Grooters is one of the Packers most decorated female athletes, having been named to the All-EDC team each year since 2005 and the All-State team the past three years. Besides possessing the 100- and 300-meter hurdle titles since 2007, she also took titles on the 400 and 800 relay teams as a freshman and the 3,200 relay as a junior.

"It would be fun to do all four years," she said, of attempting to take the 100- and 300-meter hurdle titles again this spring. She also said there may be a chance for her to run in relays, but that all depends on what the Packers have for runners and what the coaches finally decide.

Grooters said she chose the Division I, Big 12 conference Huskers after careful consideration. Other potential universities on her list were Minnesota, North Dakota State and Wisconsin.

What sold her on Nebraska, though, were a balance of high academic and athletic standards and "the support they have for their athletes," she said.

Living in West Fargo with such close proximity to NDSU, some might think there was family pressure to join the Bison ranks. Not so, she said.

"They were really supportive. They knew it was important for me to go somewhere I was comfortable," Grooters said.

Her father Greg - principal at the Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center - echoes that sentiment, and said he and his wife, Robin, fully support their daughter's decision.

"Robin and I went to both visits to Nebraska and Minnesota and spent the day at NDSU," he said. "(The three of us) were kind of connected the whole time.

"We were really looking for some place that she would get taken care of. We're really comfortable with (Nebraska)."

At Nebraska, Ellie hopes to get right into competition. What she and the coaches have discussed so far will be for her to run the 400- and 800-meter hurdles and possibly the 600 during the indoor competitive season.

"I also might try a little bit of the decathlon," she said, but it all depends. The first year will be a time to test the waters and see where she fits best, she said.

And though sports will be a big part of her life, Ellie has lofty academic goals, too. She plans to major in pre-pharmacy and hopes eventually to transfer to the University of Nebraska-Omaha for grad school. After that, it's back home to North Dakota where she would like to pursue a career as a pharmacist.

"Who knows, though," she said, "I could change my mind."

Being so far from home doesn't intimidate Ellie, either. Greg said the family plans on visiting as much as they can.

"One nice thing about Nebraska is they have a really nice indoor facility," he said. That means Greg and Robin will get a chance to make the 475-mile drive to Lincoln, and see their daughter run; rain or shine.

Ellie isn't the only West Fargo athletic alum attending Nebraska, either. Ashley Reiter, an ex-Packer who had an impressive high school sports repertoire as a swimmer, has been a Husker since last year.

"It was kind of funny," Ellis said. "We ended up running into each other when I was down for a visit."

And if the potential from this duo is any indication, Packers fans will have a good reason to keep an eye to the south for the next four years.