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Crookston High School senior conquers the hurdles

Once Aleece Durbin had a fear of running the hurdles. She's conquered that emotion, and is making a habit of winning now.

The Crookston High School senior captured the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles Tuesday at the Crookston KROX Invitational, which was held at East Grand Forks Senior High.

Durbin is no stranger to success, having placed eighth in the 300s at the state meet last season and sixth in the event at state as a sophomore. But, after running the hurdles as a seventh grader, she dropped out of the races as an eighth-grader and didn't start running them again until midway through her freshman season.

"I started to develop a fear of hitting the hurdles,'' Durbin said. "When our hurdles coach (volunteer assistant Harley Stahlecker) left the program, we didn't practice as much. My timing was off and I was hitting hurdles.

"But my teammates wanted me to run the hurdles for the true team meet when I was a freshman. I started to work on them and to like them again.''

Now, with Stahlecker back coaching the hurdlers, rather than fearing the events, "they're my favorite races,'' Durbin said. "I think (the time away) helped me. I saw I had room to grow in them.''

Durbin is an eight-time top-eight placer at the Section 8A meet in open events in each of the last four seasons, in the 100, the 200 and the long jump in addition to the hurdles. She's also a standout in the triple jump.

"Aleece has a lot of athleticism,'' Crookston coach Amy Boll said. "She could do well (on the track) in anything from the 800 down. It was just finding her passion, what she's comfortable with.''

One big difference for Durbin this season is that Maddie Jerome of Roseau isn't running against her. Jerome was state runner-up in the 300 hurdles as a senior last season. "She was such good competition,'' Durbin said. "We always seemed to be running against each other. I miss her a lot. We helped push each other.''

Durbin and Climax-Fisher/Sacred Heart's Jessica Remer (400, high jump) were the lone multiple open event winners Tuesday in the girls division. Thief River Falls won the team title with 122 points, beating runner-up Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton by 21 points.

Felix Zuniga (200, 400) and Bryce Kuznia (long jump, triple jump) were double open event winners on the boys side in leading East Grand Forks Senior High to the championship with 173.5 points. Ada-Borup/Norman County West was second with 121. Also winning two open events was Clearbrook-Gonvick's Josiah Hubbard (high jump, 300 hurdles).

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