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Levin, Rodin and 'North Dakota grit' spark Bison men to Summit track title

North Dakota State has banner day on Saturday to win its 10th conference outdoor title.

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North Dakota State's Jacob Levin celebrates with teammate Tristan Bush after winning the 400 meters during the Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the Terrence Dahl and Donna Beres Track Complex on Saturday, May 13, 2023.
David Samson/The Forum

FARGO — The story just keeps getting better and better for North Dakota State sprinters Jacob Levin and Jacob Rodin. Same first name, unheralded out of high school in North Dakota but champions and then some on Saturday afternoon.

Levin, from West Fargo, was a double-event winner and Rodin smashed a 36-year-old record at the Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Championships to lead the Bison to the team title. NDSU accumulated 239 points to outdistance South Dakota State by 33½ points.

“Definitely a long two days but it was worth it,” said Levin, the meet’s MVP.

It was the first meet of significance at NDSU’s new Terrence Dahl and Donna Beres Track Complex, which held up perfectly in a light rain throughout the afternoon. It didn’t dampen NDSU’s spirits — The Bison's 10th overall title displaced SDSU as the defending champion.

“The guys showed up, we knew it was going to be a battle,” said Bison head coach Stevie Keller. “From the get-go, we had a lot of things go our way.”

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North Dakota State's Trevor Otterdahl competes in the discus during the Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the Terrence Dahl and Donna Beres Track Complex on Saturday, May 13, 2023.
David Samson/The Forum

Perhaps fittingly, the Bison put the finishing stamp on the title with a victory in the 1,600-meter relay, the last event of the day, with four runners from North Dakota high schools that included Levin, Rodin, Cullen Curl from Bismarck and Josh Knutson from Des Lacs-Burlington.

“North Dakota grit is a real thing,” Rodin said.

Said Levin: “All four of us from North Dakota competing for NDSU, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Rodin, from Kenmare, perhaps put the Jackrabbits in the rear view mirror with a stirring performance in the 800. He not only broke the conference record, he shattered it by almost two seconds with a time of 1:47.58.

“I just wanted to go out and compete and get some points for the team,” Rodin said. “It just so happened the record went down with it.”

Not only that, the old mark set by Jim Maton of former member Eastern Illinois stood since 1987. It was the second longest-standing conference record behind a 1985 record in the 10K until Rodin ran the race of his life.

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North Dakota State's Jacob Rodin wins the 800 meters during the Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the Terrence Dahl and Donna Beres Track Complex on Saturday, May 13, 2023.
David Samson/The Forum

“I felt good and it’s nice to be able to compete on your own track,” Rodin said. “And to do it in front of a group of fans who love Bison nation gives you a little more energy on the homestretch.”

The Bison men had a 107-72 advantage on South Dakota State heading into Saturday. The Jackrabbits closed the gap early in the afternoon with a 1-2 finish in the 1,500 meters, pulling to within four points of NDSU and the race was on.

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“We had a couple of things not go our way, but I’m looking around and the Bison are showing up,” said senior thrower Trevor Otterdahl. “Big things are happening and the energy is rolling now.”

Levin provided one energetic answer. His personal-best 46.61 seconds in the 400 led a 1-2-5 NDSU finish and was the third-best all-time in Bison history.

“Just trusting in my training,” Levin said.

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North Dakota State's Jacob Levin starts out of the blocks in the 400 meters during the Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the Terrence Dahl and Donna Beres Track Complex on Saturday, May 13, 2023.
David Samson/The Forum

He followed that with a win in the 200, holding his own down the homestretch.

“What can you say, I mean, a walkon kid that decided to come back for a fifth year,” Keller said. “It’s amazing what these kids are able to do.”
Otterdahl turned in an amazing moment. He won the discus on his last throw to finish the weekend with three individual titles including the hammer throw and shot put.

“It was all or nothing, I don’t practice the discus much, I focus on shot and hammer so I tend to be more inconsistent,” Otterdahl said. “But there is no better place and better time to do it than at home and on the sixth throw.”

Otterdahl scratched on his two previous attempts in the discus finals, but let fly a toss of 174 feet, 8 inches that was followed by a group celebration on the track infield. That tied Ethan Fischer of SDSU but Otterdahl got the title by tiebreaker.

“To have my teammates right there screaming, it couldn’t have been any better,” Otterdahl said.

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North Dakota State's Dante White finishes second in the 100 meters during the Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the Terrence Dahl and Donna Beres Track Complex on Saturday, May 13, 2023.
David Samson/The Forum

Team totals

North Dakota State 239, South Dakota State 205.5, South Dakota 159.5, St. Thomas 57, Western Illinois 53, North Dakota 50, Kansas City 29, Oral Roberts 26.

Individual results

100: 1, Kautz, USD, 10.40. 2, White, NDSU, 10.48. 3, Daley, USD, 10.49.

200: 1, Levin, NDSU, 20.93. 2, Daley, USD, 21.02. 3, Douville, UST, 21.24.

400: 1, Levin, NDSU, 46.61. 2, Curl, NDSU, 47.73. 3, Ringer, UST, 47.89.

800: 1, Rodin, NDSU, 1:47.58 (record, old record 1:49.51 Jim Maton, WIU, 1987). 2, Middendorf, UND, 1:49.05. 3, Olson, USD, 1:49.57.

1,500: 1, Olson, SDSU, 3:47.48. 2, Breuckman, SDSU, 3:47.86. 3, Milanovic, UND, 3:48.93.

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5,000: 1, Minor-Williams, SDSU, 14:21.01 (record, old record 14:24.31 by Joshua Yeager, SDSU, 2021). 2, Larson, SDSU, 14:25.40. 3, Johnson, NDSU, 14:30.07.

400 relay: 1, USD, 39,94 (record, old record 44.99, SDSU, 2022). 2, KC, 40.82. 3, SDSU, 41:01.

1,600 relay: 1, NDSU, 3:10.80. 2, SDSU, 3:13.76. 3, UST, 3:13.89.

110 hurdles: 1, Morvan, USD, 13.79. 2, Lear, SDSU, 14.09. 3, Johnsen, NDSU, 14.56.

400 hurdles: 1, Pierzinski, SDSU, 51.55. 2, Knutson, NDSU, 52.24. 3, Falls, ORU, 53.27.

Triple jump: 1, Owere, KC, 49-3. 2, Belluz, WIU, 47-6½. 3, Keefer, SDSU, 46-4.

Discus: 1, Otterdahl, NDSU, 174-8. 2, Fischer, SDSU, 174-8. Coker, USD, 164-3.

Pole vault: 1, Faurot, USD, 18-0½. 2, Haamer, USD, 17-2¼. 3, White, NDSU, 16-10¼.

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Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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