Groff to run for Bluffton

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Versailles senior Tami Groff (front center) signed her letter of intent Wednesday to compete for the Bluffton University cross country and track and field teams. Pictured are (front row, l-r) mother Debbie Groff, Groff, father Jim Groff, (back row, l-r) Versailles cross country coach Mark Pleiman and Versailles Athletics Director Doug Giere.

VERSAILLES – Versailles senior Tami Groff signed her letter of intent Wednesday morning to run for the Bluffton University cross country and track and field teams.

Groff, the daughter of Jim and Debbie Groff, said she loved the Bluffton campus and felt welcomed as a member of the Beavers’ cross country and track teams.

“It was actually kind of easy because I really didn’t get anything from any other school,” Groff said of her decision to attend Bluffton. “And I just loved the campus, and it was so small. And it was pretty much unknown, and I wanted to meet new people and kind of … I don’t know, get a good connection with the team and the kids there, and I just thought it was good for me.”

Bluffton first expressed interest in Groff after her junior year of cross country when she received a letter of interest from the Beavers.

“That just kind of drew me in, and I talked to the coaches after a while and then the teammates and just felt like it was meant to be,” said Groff, who will study accounting in college.

Bluffton competes in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, which is a NCAA Division III league.

The Bluffton women’s cross country team finished eighth out of 10 teams at the 2014 HCAC cross country meet. The Bluffton women’s track and field team is predicted to finish sixth in the conference this season by the league’s coaches.

“They’re very team-oriented,” Groff said of her future teammates. “They really care. They want to strive to make each other better as better teammates and better in life as a better person and whatnot.”

Groff competed at the Ohio High School Athletic Association state cross country meet this past fall. She finished sixth among the Versailles girls and 116th overall among the Division III girls.

“Tami is just a very nice leader for the team,” Versailles cross country coach Mark Pleiman said. “She has a very nice work ethic, always working hard in practices, one of the girls that in practice is always up front and leads the other kids to see how they’re supposed to be doing things. Just a nice, genuine person, very honest and reliable at all times.”

Getting an opportunity to compete at the college level shows that Groff’s hard work has paid off, Pleiman said.

“It shows with a little hard work and some dedication and that drive you can go and accomplish things that maybe at times other people think they can’t do it, but she’s going after some goals and some dreams and going to go have some fun,” he said.

During her four years of college, Groff hopes to do her best in all aspects of her life.

“Basically just to be the best I can be on and off the track and the cross country courses and whatnot and just go out and do my best,” she said.