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Richter to pole vault at North Dakota State University, four Perham athletes sign letters of intent on National Signing Day

Levi Richter put pen to paper to ink his commitment to the North Dakota State University track and field team. He's part of the latest group of Perham athletes to carry on a rich athletic pool that competes beyond the high school level.

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Perham's Levi Richter competes in the pole vault at the Minnesota Class A track and field championship Friday, June 18, 2021, at St. Michael-Albertville High School. Richter finished second with a height of 13 feet 9 inches. Photo submitted by Tammy Richter

Growing up in a family with a Division I football player, Levi Richter was determined to carve his own athletic path. On Dec. 15, he signed his letter of intent to pole vault for North Dakota State University.

Levi is four years younger than his older brother, Logan Richter, a redshirt sophomore defensive lineman for the University of Minnesota. While football has been a considerable part of both of their lives, Levi is making his way to the Division I ranks through track and field.

"It means quite a bit for me," Richter said on signing a letter of intent to compete at the collegiate level. "I never thought I'd make it this far in track. It means a lot to me because I look up to my older brother Logan. I always wanted to be like him. He's been a big influence, and now I got to experience the same thing."

Richter's admiration for his older brother turned into motivation.

"That probably pushed me the most," he said on growing up in an athletic family. "I didn't want to be the guy in Logan's footsteps. I wanted to make my own. I think this motivates me to be even better to prove that I belong (at NDSU). I'm ready for it. I'm going to make some big improvements from last year. I get to just focus on doing my best."

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Last season, Richter set the Perham High School Record in the Pole Vault at 13-feet, 10-inches. He beat Eli Beachy's 2014 mark by an inch. Richter also won the Section 8A pole vaulting title and competed at the state meet, where he took second at 13-feet, 9-inches.

After a standout junior season, Richter had a choice to make. Before committing to the Bison, he looked at Minnesota State University-Moorhead, Concordia College-Moorhead and other local schools.

"I think that was one of the bigger factors," Richter said on picking a school close to home. "I like that I get to come home when I need to."

Growing up, Richter didn't think track was the sport that would take him to college. But after the help of his support system, he's excited for the opportunity to compete at NDSU.

"My track teammates and coach played a big, big part in where I am right now," Richter said. "I don't know where I would be without them and my family. My pole vault coach, Ryan Beachy, he's probably had the biggest impact on me. When I was in seventh grade, I was in baseball before I went out for track. He kind of pushed me to do pole vault. I remember wanting to quit, but he said, 'You're going to be good at this.' It's pretty crazy to think about how far I've come since then. I'm just really thankful for the opportunity."

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(From left to right) Colton Hackel, Levi Richter, Jakob McCleary and Brian Ramos sign letters of intent on Dec. 15, 2021 at Perham High School. Summited by Perham Public Schools.

Continuing a rich athletic legacy

Richter was one of four Perham athletes who signed letters of intent on Dec. 15, which joins the four more who inked commitments in the fall. Jakob McCleary is headed to the University of Minnesota for cross country, Colton Hackel to the University of North Dakota for football and Brain Ramos to Augsburg College for Wrestling.

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Richter and McCleary were excited to share the day with each other and their friends. They recognize their accomplishments only go so far by themselves.

"It feels amazing," Richter said on signing his letter of intent with three of his friends. "I know some of the other guys on the football team have their futures set for them too because they worked for it. It's a pretty good feeling to see yourself and your friends succeed."

"All three of the guys I'm signing with are like my best friends," McCleary said before National Signing Day. "I think it's something to be proud of, and it's really cool to be there together. I think it's pretty special. In sixth and seventh grade, we all talked about going D-I in sports in stuff. It's super funny to look back on us talking like that and think that it's actually happening."

The expectation for excellence in Perham has shown no bounds as dozens of former Yellowjackets continue to go one to compete beyond the high school level.

"I think it shows that you don't need to be from a big school to go places," McCleary said. "A lot of people think that just because you're from a small town, it means you can't go to bigger schools and go D-I. The standard in Perham is set really high. I think everyone expects us to be good at sports. Everyone works hard to live up to that expectation."

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