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Levin reflects on three-win state meet

Two weeks ago, Amanda Levin cemented herself in Packers history.

The junior trackster finished first in three different events - the 100-, 200- and 400-meter runs - at the North Dakota state track tournament.

"It doesn't really seem real," Levin said. "It has been a goal of mine for a very long time. That's what I have been striving for. I came into the high school running scene as a seventh-grader and I remember thinking 'I really want to be up there on that podium.'"

In the process, Levin - the daughter of Dan and Jane Levin - also set a school record by running the 100-meter dash in 12.05 seconds.

"It is great for our program," Packers track coach Darin McKinnon said. "For her to do what she did gives us great recognition."

What she did was claim state titles in three events that no other Packer had ever won. Likewise, no other Packer had ever won three events in one state meet.

"I came in knowing what I had to do the first day," Levin said. "I had to win my heats and end up with good lanes for the finals. I was ready to go the next day, and I had one of my best starts in the 100. Usually, I don't get a very good start. This time I think I was the first one out. It felt really good running that first race, and it kind of set me up for the rest of the day."

"She is never high or low (emotionally) during a competition," McKinnon said. "She goes into every meet with the same level of focus. She has been to state track meets before, but you could see something special in her eyes that weekend."

In 2012, Levin finished second in all three events to Minot's Morgan Milbrath, who competed in 2013 but was slowed by a hamstring injury.

"I know Amanda was a little down that Morgan wasn't running healthy," McKinnon said. "She wants to be able to run against the very best, but she went out and took care of the things that were in her control."

Despite Milbrath's condition, Levin does not believe the result would have been different had she been healthy.

"It kind of stunk taking second in everything," Levin said. "I knew I didn't want to do that again. My times are better than they were last year. Morgan and I have been running together since we were really young. It's been back and forth with us for a long time."

McKinnon feels that Levin's 2012 finishes are the reason she earned the top spot this year.

"Finishing second gave her the drive to come back this year and prove herself," McKinnon said. "I don't think she looked at that result as unsuccessful. She feeds off that, and you can't coach that."

Levin is a three-sport athlete, playing volleyball and basketball as well, but admits that she prefers track and field.

"It's the one I've been doing since I was really little. I made it to a national track meet four times when I was younger. I got to meet olympic athletes there. It was an amazing experience, and it made me love it even more."

According to McKinnon, her combination of athleticism, dedication and the right mentality make her a perfect fit for the sport.

"Once she starts our season, it's all about pushing herself, and she does that so well," McKinnon said. "Even though she has a lot of talent, it's not good enough for her. She wants to continue getting better.

"In this sport, there is no place you can hide," McKinnon said. "It's just you out there. There is a lot of individual pressure on them, and she harnesses that really well. She welcomes that pressure. She wants to be out there running against the best. You don't find many kids with that kind of drive, and you couldn't have written a better finish to the season for her."

With Levin coming back for her senior season in 2014, the question comes up regarding whether she can repeat the success of this season. According to McKinnon, that will not be a concern for her.

"I don't believe for any moment that she will lose her drive going into next year, or that she feels like she has accomplished something where she is now fulfilled competitively," McKinnon said. "She is just as hungry going into next season as she was going into this one. I don't think the pressure of repeating will be a concern for her. She'll just go out there and do what she does, which in run fast."

Likewise, Levin wants to continue her successful track career, but will simply deal with the elements that are in her control.

"I definitely want to make it to state again in every sport," Levin said. "In track, I just want to keep improving my times, and hopefully break some records."

Whatever the result next year, Levin will go into the season with an added responsibility, as she was voted a captain by her teammates.

"I'm excited about having her in that role next year," McKinnon said. "She will take on a leadership role, and I think she'll be great at that, not only being one of the premier athletes in North Dakota but also wearing this other hat as a captain."