FARGO — It was around junior high when Amanda Levin saw a girl from Fargo South killing it in the North Dakota high school track and field world. Laura Roesler was an all-time standout at South and went on to a standout college and professional running career.
She was an idol for lot of younger runners, Levin included.
The former West Fargo High School sprinter eventually joined Roesler in becoming a multi-event North Dakota Class A state champion winning the 100, 200 and 400 meters her junior year. She most likely would have repeated the feat, but an ACL tear early in the Packers volleyball season made for an injury-plagued senior running season.
Five years later, Levin is one of the top heptathletes in the country. She’s qualified for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the seven-event heptathlon and could make it a double nationals entry by qualifying in the long jump in the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds this weekend in Sacramento, Calif.
“This has just been the best year yet,” Levin said.
Her best year stemmed from a decision over a year ago to redshirt last year’s outdoor season. Nagging shin injuries were the culprit, so Levin decided to enroll for a master’s degree in retail merchandising and design.
The extra year helped her further study and improve in the heptathlon. She became more consistent with the technical events, shattering the NDSU school record held by Whitney Carlson with a 5,695-point effort at the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa, Calif. That was 139 points better than Carlson’s 2011 mark.
“It was ideal conditions and mentally she was ready to go,” said NDSU head women’s coach Stevie Keller.
The top 24 scores after conference meets automatically qualify for nationals in the heptathlon. NDSU is pretty adept at the multi-events with a current No. 1 team ranking in the country. The top four of Levin, Macy Denver, Jenna Kes and Dakota Wood average a national-best 5,088 points, with the Bison the only school with four women scoring more than 4,750 points.
The nation's top heptathlon squad competes for North Dakota State. https://t.co/E5VaSqc7Mw— NDSU Track & Field (@NDSUTrackField) May 15, 2019
For Levin, reaching that level was an exercise in patience. The ACL injury her senior year in high school still lingered during her first two years of college.
“Even going into the fall season when I came here, I almost didn’t even want to do track,” Levin said. “I wasn’t as fast as I was and wondered if I would be able to keep up.”
She stayed with it, and took the time in those two years to learn the seven events of the heptathlon. She had never hurdled, jumped or thrown in high school.
“And those first couple years were definitely a learning curve,” Levin said. “After that, things started coming together.”
It’s yet another victory for a local athlete reaching high-level Division I status. She’s keeping an open mind to competing past college, saying it may depend on how she does at the NCAAs.
The USA Track & Field Championships are set for late July in Des Moines, Iowa. She’s currently 10th on the Division I heptathlon performance list.
“She’s been able to put it together,” Keller said.
Off the track, Keller said, she’s done that for five years calling her “a great team leader.”
“She’s been a Bison through and through,” Keller said. “As a little kid, she was always at Bison athletics stuff. It’s been great for us to get another North Dakota kid to stay in state and have the success that she’s had. We have a long list of kids from North Dakota and small-town Minnesota who come into our program and we see them continue to improve. Sometimes it takes four or five years but they put things together.”
Those five years, Levin said, went by fast. What perhaps started as a kid looking up to Roesler now finds herself in elite company in Division I track and field. Former bad knee, and all.
“It seems like a fairy tale ending almost to my career,” Levin said. “So it’s been really good.”