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COLLEGE TRACK: UND freshman has already set four school records

When UND freshman sprinter Stephanie Clarke came to Grand Forks on her official visit, the Edmonton native didn't take long to find the list of records displayed in the Hyslop Sports Center.

UND freshman track runner Stephanie Clarke
UND freshman track runner Stephanie Clarke has already set four school records. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

When UND freshman sprinter Stephanie Clarke came to Grand Forks on her official visit, the Edmonton native didn't take long to find the list of records displayed in the Hyslop Sports Center.

"I gravitated to that board," Clarke said. "I wanted to see how my times could stack up. I saw the records, and I saw that they were attainable ... so those records were definitely on my radar."

Less than a year later, four of those marks belong to Clarke. The speedster holds the school record in the 200 and 400 meters -- both indoors and outdoors.

Clarke has picked off a school record in January, February, March and April. Two of the records were more than 20 years old.

All of these marks were broken during a cold spring in which snow still remains on the Memorial Stadium track at the end of April.

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The harsh weather doesn't seem to bother Clarke.

"I like it here a lot," she said. "Coming from Canada, I know what it's like. I know what it's like to not go outside because you're getting 17 inches of snow. You have to get over it and find other ways to stay conditioned."

Last-minute arrival

Clarke's was a late addition to the North Dakota roster. UND track and field coach Kevin Galbraith said he didn't talk with Clarke until July of this past summer.

"I got a call from a club coach in Edmonton who said he had a girl who wants to run in the States," Galbraith said. "I told him it was possible, but it was late. We had to scramble with admissions and transcripts. There was a lot to get done in a short amount of time."

Clarke said she discovered UND after talking to a friend who went to Minot State.

"I was looking at schools that weren't extremely huge," Clarke said. "That's now what I was looking for."

Early on, Galbraith knew he was getting a special talent.

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"I looked up her marks on a Canadian website," he said. "I had seen what she had done before, and I talked with her club coach about her development potential. We knew what we were getting with a combination of those marks and the understanding of the training she had gotten to that point."

Now that Clarke has surpassed the UND records in her first college season, her goals have changed.

"I want to do my best," she said. "Hopefully, I stay healthy, and we'll see how far I can go."

"I try not to place too many expectations on her," Galbraith said. "We're going to keep training well and what comes, comes."

Speedsters galore

Clarke may be one of the best sprinters to come through UND, but she still has plenty of competition during meets.

Of the four records she set this season, Clarke didn't win any of the four races. In fact, she finished ninth in her record-setting 400-meter outdoor performance at the Long Beach Invitational on April 21.

That speaks to the level of competition UND now faces as a first-year member of the Big Sky Conference.

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"I was in the Big Sky during my time at Northern Colorado," Galbraith said. "I knew what we would be facing in some events. It's a good track league."

Miller reports on sports. Call him at (701) 780-1121; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1121; or send e-mail to tmiller@gfherald.com .

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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