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"Don't tell my coach," said Maddie Dahlien, a two-sport senior standout at Edina, "but I was considering dropping track this season."

Oh, Lynn Sosnowski knew.

She also knew the best way to lure Dahlien, an elite soccer player who signed with North Carolina, back to the track. As a junior, Dahlien dominated her second sport with state meet championships in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter sprints. Sosnowski used those victories as carrots.

"All I had to say were things like, 'It's not very often that a sprinter gets to defend three state titles,' " Sosnowski said. "Or I'd say, 'You know you can go faster.' That got her to ask, 'You think I could?' "

Yes, she could. Dahlien clocked new personal bests in all three sprints. Alas, only one proved fast enough for a state title. The disappointment felt familiar because her unbeaten Edina soccer team had lost in the soccer state tournament semifinals.

Dahlien, chosen Ms. Soccer and Ms. Track and Field by those sports' respective coaches associations, enjoyed success while also enduring setbacks this season.

She came out stronger for the experiences. Dahlien is the Star Tribune All-Metro Female Athlete of the Year.

"Her character is incredible," Edina soccer coach Katie Aafedt said. "There was so much pressure on her this year because both of her teams expected to do well because of her.

"She's a player I won't see again. But I'll remember her heart. I'll remember the kid who found me after a loss and consoled me."

Maddie Dahlien of Edina is a track and field champion many times over and a soccer player headed to perennial power North Carolina.
Maddie Dahlien of Edina is a track and field champion many times over and a soccer player headed to perennial power North Carolina.

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Aafedt returned the favor at the track and field state meet.

The meet started well for Dahlien. On Thursday, she won the long jump, an event she tried for the first time just 2 1/2 weeks before the state meet. The accomplishment only intensified expectations for Saturday's finals on the track.

Then Dahlien took second in her first finals race, the 100, by three-hundredths of a second. One race and the chance for a second sprint sweep was already gone. But two races remained.

"We went for a little walk, and I told her, 'Let's have a good cry,' " Aafedt said. "She got that out and then I said, 'Now go have fun.' "

Another second-place finish, this time in the 400, followed. Dahlien flashed a thumbs-up toward the stands where Aafedt sat, indicating she was OK.

"Those track events go so fast that if you're not mentally there, you're going to lose again," Dahlien said. "There's a different mind-set with individual sports. You need a more killer mentality."

Dahlien punctuated an already decorated high school career with a 200 victory. She thrust her right arm after crossing the finish line.

"It was a storybook ending," Dahlien said. "I went out a champion."

Sosnowski said: "I hope there's a photograph of that somewhere because it was quintessential Maddie. She was down but not out, and she rose to the occasion."

Reflecting on her senior season, both the successes and the hard lessons, Dahlien said she learned "failure is almost as important as winning. I tried to use those tough moments to propel me to new heights. I learned and I grew as a senior this year. Those experiences set me up for the future."