Female Athlete of the Week: Durant's Grace VanDeGrift

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Tue. October 19, 2010 | Joey Knight | Email

In a surreal 12-hour span this past weekend, Durant senior Grace VanDeGrift, made an improbable segue from elegance to endurance.

A member of Durant High's homecoming court Friday night, VanDeGrift rose before dawn the following morning, traveled to a steeplechase ranch in northeast Pasco County and enjoyed arguably the best run of her cross country life. 

Reaffirming her status as the premier girls runner in Hillsborough County, VanDeGrift placed 14th in the girls elite race at the Pre-State Invitational at Little Everglades Ranch. Her time -- 18 minutes, 34 seconds -- was the best posted by any local female runner. 

VanDeGrift, who was battling a stress fracture in her hip less than a year ago, actually ran a faster time (18:13) at the flrunners.com Invitational 11 in Titusville a couple of weeks before. But Durant coach Mike Gursky said her effort Saturday was more impressive, considering the difficulty of the Little Everglades course that features a long uphill straightaway/backstretch.

If you have a standout athlete with a memorable performance that you think should be considered, e-mail us at hometeam@tampabay.com. Athletes of the week each receive tickets to a future Lightning game, courtesy of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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