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St. Mary's Steinsiek signs with Elon

When a counselor at St. Mary's High asked Abby Steinsiek if she'd mind attending college in the South, she didn't balk.

"I'm originally from the South," said Steinsiek, who lived in Arkansas for 10 years before moving here. She told her advisor, "I could live anywhere."

Steinsiek, part of a gifted class of athletes at St. Mary's, signed a letter of intent with Elon University to compete in track and field for the private liberal arts school in central North Carolina.

She expects to compete in the 400 meters and on the 4x400 relay team.

Steinsiek, who also has played soccer and basketball for St. Mary's, signed during a ceremony at the school Tuesday.

She has a best of 58.3 seconds in the 400.

Steinsiek was second in the Class 2A state meet last year in the 400 and fifth in the 200. She was on winning 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams. The latter set a meet record of 4 minutes, 0.92 seconds. Other relay members were Morgan Martin, Mackenzie Krieser and Sarah Bennion.

Elon competes in the NCAA Division I Southern Conference, which has 12 member schools.

The women's track team, headed by fifth-year coach Mark Elliston, recently placed fourth in the conference's indoor championships for its highest finish ever.

"They're building their program up," said Steinsiek, who visited the school twice before making her choice on Sunday. "They have a really good distance team and just recently increased the number of sprinters. The class above me has really good 200 and 400 runners."

Steinsiek, who intends to major in communications, said she might graduate to the 800 meters after she builds strength from full-time running.