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  • Ethan Polak

Butler track and field team shows promise at start of indoor season

The track and field team will travel to South Bend on Feb. 4 for the Meyo Invitational. Photo courtesy of Butler Athletics.

Butler track and field began their indoor season with a bang. After losing out on a true indoor season due to the COVID-19 pandemic the last two years, the team is motivated more than ever to make up for all the meets they missed out on. All the hard work and dedication to the sport in the offseason is paying off as the team has already begun rewriting the history books in multiple events.

Blue and Gold Invitational

On Dec. 3, the team began at the indoor season opener with records galore at the Blue and Gold Invitational in South Bend, Indiana. The Butler men took home the crown in five different events.

Graduate students Tom Pitkin and Jacob Uhl began the day by placing first and third in the 400 meter race with a times of 47.26 and 48.32 — both breaking the previous school record.

In the 4×400 relay, the combination of sophomores Issac Kane and Zac Stanley, paired with Pitkin and Uhl, broke another record for the Bulldogs. The quartet won the race 3:14.66, beating the previous record by nearly two seconds.

In the pole vault, freshmen Paul Signorelli and Luke Walden finished first and third. Signorelli’s mark of 4.85 meters tied the school record held by senior Wade Walder in 2020.

On the women’s side, the team had three winning performances of their own.

Graduate student Niki Ezeh had an outstanding multi-event performance. Ezeh broke her own school record in the 60 meter hurdles with a new time of 8.53. On the field, she tacked on a bronze in the long jump and shot put with distances of 5.55 and 13.67 meters, respectively.

Other champions on the day included sophomore Morgan Werner in the 3K at 9:51.78 and graduate student Rebecca Collester in the 200 meters at 25.19.

Boston University Sharon Colyear-Danville Season Opener

One day later, Butler’s top two distance runners, graduate student Simon Bedard and redshirt senior Barry Keane, were invited to compete in the Elite 5K in Boston. The field was filled with 10 collegiate runners who earned All-America honors in the NCAA Cross Country Championship last November.

Together, they combined for one of the best races in Bulldog history with Keane and Bedard finishing in eighth and 14th with a time of 13:25.96 and 13:32.48, respectively. Both times were enough to break Butler’s school record by over eight seconds. Keane’s time also broke Ireland’s indoor national record in the 5K.

Out of all the records that have been broken this year, head coach Matt Roe believes this one is the most shocking.

“The races by Barry and Simon are at the mountain top of our records right now,” Roe said. “You’re talking about somebody who broke a national record. Plus, our school records at Butler are some of the best in the United States, so to even break a record here is incredibly difficult.”

Blue Demon Holiday Invitational

Right before Christmas break, the runners traveled to Chicago, Illinois on Dec. 10 for the Blue Demon Holiday Invitational.

Pitkin got it started for the Bulldogs by breaking another record — this time in the 600 meters with a time of 1:18.98. After breaking his third school record in two weeks, Pitkin was left feeling more confident than ever.

“Everytime I step on the track right now I feel like I can break another record,” Pitkin said. “I’m just trying to collect as many as I can before I graduate.”

Kane followed by securing a first place finish and the school’s best time in the 300 meters at 33.84. Signorelli joined in on the party with a Butler record in the pole vault he set just one week prior — this time with a height of 5.10 meters.

Topping off the day was in the mile, where Butler swept on both the men’s and women’s side. Senior Andrew Taylor won the men’s race at 4:21.50 while freshman Elsa Rusthoven took the women’s crown in a time of 4:59.51.

Gene Edmonds Memorial Invitational

After returning from winter break, Butler headed up I-65 to West Lafayette, Indiana on Jan. 8, to race in the Gene Edmonds Memorial Invitational.

Ezeh was the highlight of the day, winning in the 60 meter hurdles and the long jump. She topped her previous record in the hurdles after finishing in 8.47 seconds.

Ezeh is ecstatic to see all the effort she put in before the season is beginning to pay off.

“I feel like this is the most competitive I’ve been in those races at this point in the year,” Ezeh said. “As a team we’ve been working really hard, and it’s really nice to see those numbers on the board reflect that.”

Sophomore Jill Volger also finished first in multiple events including the 200 meters and 400 meter dashes with times of 26.56 and 59.01, respectively.

On the men’s side, Signorelli and Kane continued their winning streak in their respective events of pole vault and the 400 meters. New to the winner’s column this week were sophomores Drew Herman and Liam Dennis in the high jump and 800 meters.

Jim Green Invitational

The following weekend, the Bulldogs traveled down south to Lexington, Kentucky for the Jim Green Invitational on Jan. 14.

In the 3000 meters, Butler placed second on both sides. Graduate students Evan Byrne and Kami Hankins crossed the finish line at 8:14.71 and 9:34.56, respectively.

Butler ended the night by sweeping the podium in the 800 meters. Graduate student Matthew Wigelsworth led the way finishing first in 1:52:97. Dennis and senior Trey Harris followed not too far behind at 1:53.27 and 1:54.05, respectively.

Gladstein Invitational

Butler’s next journey landed them in Bloomington, Indiana for the Gladstein Invitational on Jan. 21.

Junior Morgan Walsh was the lone winner in any event for the Bulldogs at the meet. She finished first in the 600 meters with a time of 1:36.4.

Some of the younger athletes also began to show some promise at the meet. Freshmen Ben Bradley and Michael Beros placed second and third, respectively, in the 200 meter dash with times of 22.88 and 22.89. For the women, freshman Lexi Affolter finished third overall in the 600 meters at 1:42:33.

Indiana University Relays

Same place, one week later, Butler competed at the Indiana University Relays on Jan. 28.

Graduate student Rebecca Coan beat out everyone in the women’s pentathlon. She finished first in the long jump competition along with second place finishes in the high jump and shot put, which helped put her ahead with a score of 3,915.

The Butler men’s 4×400 relay team of Pitikn, Uhl, Kane and Stanley broke their own school record with a new time of 3:12.74. Uhl followed up with a second place in the 400 meter dash in 48.55.

Bedard finished the day by claiming third in the 3000 meters with a time of 7:43.03. His time currently ranks the 14th best in the country and was just three seconds short of former All-American Erik Peterson’s school record.

Looking Ahead

With all these early victories and new records, the Butler track and field team is hoping to continue their momentum into the rest of the season. Roe is pleased with the production from his team this early in the season.

“We’re breaking records, but we’re not doing it just in one concentrated area,” Roe said. “We’re winning in the field, long sprints, short sprints and long distance competitions. Overall, this is as complete a track program that Butler’s ever had.”

They will be competing every weekend until the indoor Big East Championships beginning on Feb. 25. Ezeh expressed her motivation as an underdog for the rest of the season.

“We just have this culture that we’re not expected to win,” Ezeh said. “When we go into the Big East, they have those big names like Villanova, Marquette, that you just kind of expect. Our hope is to come in as a sleeper and be like you are not thinking about us, but our numbers are going to show why we have an impact in the Big East.”

Butler’s next race will start next weekend on Feb. 4-5 in South Bend, Indiana at the Meyo Invitational.


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