By Christopher Tenpenny
Butler was home to the Butler Invitational Saturday where 17 schools from around the area competed in track and field events. For many schools, including Butler, it was the first track and field event since 2019.
Butler head coach James Barnes was happy to have track meets again, but said he wishes he could have watched his athletes compete a little more.
“It was fantastic to be competing again,” Barnes said. “Happy to be back at it. The only downside was we were hosting the first one so my coaching staff didn’t get to watch as much as we would’ve liked. I think I got to pay attention to three events throughout the day.”
Both the boys and girls team performed well in the overall standings. The boys placed ninth out of 17 teams while the girls finished fifth out of 17.
The most notable performance for the Bears came from sophomore Annalee Gardner who broke the school record in the pole vault with a vault of 10 feet. As a sophomore, Gardner was competing in her first high school meet. While Barnes was excited for Gardner to break the record, he said she has bigger goals in mind.
“If you asked her, she would be disappointed,” Barnes said. “She was able to vault 10 feet in eighth grade and wanted to go higher in her first meet. Her expectation is to get closer to 12.”
Gardner finished second in the pole vault.
Barnes was also impressed with junior Matthew Zent who jumped 18-01.75 in the long jump and finished seventh in the 110m hurdles and sixth in the 300m hurdles.
Taitlyn Madison, also competing in her first varsity track meet, had a strong performance for the Bears. Madison placed third or higher in all four of her events, including a first-place finish in the long jump (15-05). Madison also took second in the 400m and 4x200m relay while placing third in the 200m dash.
With so many athletes competing in their first meet, Barnes said each athlete is progressing differently.
“Each kid was different,” Barnes said. “For some, it did not phase them one bit. They knew what they were doing. For others, you could tell it was their first track meet. We had to remind them to check-in and warmup.
“We have a few expectations for individual athletes. For others, we are still trying to figure out a way to put them in a position to succeed.”
Butler’s next chance to compete will be today at Adrian.