By TED RADICK
Throughout the track and field season last year, Liberty-Benton’s Michaela Butler said and did all the right things.
Then a freshman, Butler talked about how she respected her fellow competitors and teammates. A loss in the 100-meter dash in the Division II state final, though, brought out her competitive fire.
To be sure, Butler always respects the runners she competes against. No bones about it, though, she wants to beat them.
“I was not happy whatsoever after that 100 race,” she said as she and her Eagles teammates concluded a final workout Wednesday in preparation for this weekend’s state championship meet.
“I guess, I really thought I was going to win that one. So, not winning it was devastating. I wanted to do so much better and I didn’t PR in the finals. I wanted to do my best and I don’t think I did that.”
Butler was second in the 100 in 12.03, behind Eastmoor Academy’s Aaliyah Barnes (11.90). She responded by taking first place in the 200, running a 24.63 to defeat Eastmoor Academy teammates Cheyanne Carter (24.67) and Barnes (24.70).
“I think if I had won the 100, I wouldn’t have had the drive that I did in the 200,” Butler said. “Losing that race, it made me think about what I did want to do, and what I wanted to go home with that day.”
Butler said her competitiveness comes from home. Whether it’s a board game at the family’s kitchen table or a race between siblings, no one was particularly interested in cutting the youngest sister any slack.
“I have seven older siblings, we’ll be playing a game and it’s always about who’s winning,” Butler said. “We’ll joke around and everything, but all of us have a competitive drive in us.”
That’s led her to have some lofty goals for this year’s state meet.
“In all honesty, I’d like to break the state record in the 100 (11.82 by Girard’s Cachet Murray in 2004) because I was four-hundreths off it last year,” she said. “To go back and do that would be absolutely amazing.
“In the 200, I’d like to go low 24s. I think I’m capable of doing it, I really do.”
Regardless, Butler just wants to do her best against Ohio’s top runners.
“I’m going to give it everything I have and if I do, and it’s still second, I’ll be satisfied,” she said. “If I know I could have done better, that’s what I would be disappointed in.”
STATE EXPERIENCE: Experience counts at a state championship meet. The crowd is large and loud, the venue is choked with competitors and the senses can get a bit overloaded.
“It’s overwhelming the first year you’re there,” said Columbus Grove junior Sydney McCluer, who finished eighth in the Division III 100 hurdles and 400 relay last year. “This year, I’m hoping to keep myself calm and perform better.”
It’s a common theme for area runners with a year of state experience under their belts.
“Nerves played a big role for me,” said Ada’s Brittney Archer, who ran in the Division III 100 and 200 last year and was eliminated in the prelim races. “Even before the running events started, we went down the day before to get a feel of the track and there were so many people there. I thought, ‘Oh, God.’ The next day, the stands were full. It’s a whole lot different than a normal meet.
“Now I have a feel for it and I know how hard I have to push myself. I know this is my last high school meet, and I’m planning on pushing myself beyond what I think is possible.”
Van Buren junior Rachell Resnik competed in the 3,200 relay and open 800 last year, and she felt the same way in her first trip to Columbus.
“Looking up into the crowd, it really scared me a little,” she said. “I know I’m ready this year. Last year was a great experience for me just being there, but I’m looking forward to this year now that I actually know the track and know what to expect. With that year of experience, I’m ready to compete and get on the podium.”
BRIGHT AND EARLY: The girls state meet begins Friday morning at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Stadium with several event finals and preliminary races in most running events.
In Division III, the 3,200 relay final kicks off the meet at 9:30 a.m.. Running prelims will take place throughout the morning. All the field event finals will be held Friday afternoon; discus, long jump and pole vault are at 1 p.m., with high jump and shot put at 4.
The rest of the running finals are set for a 9:30 a.m. Saturday start with the 100 intermediate hurdles.
In Division II, field event finals kick off at 9:30 a.m. Friday with the discus and high jump. The 3,200 relay final is at 1:30 p.m., followed by prelims in the other running events.
Field event finals continue at 9 a.m. Saturday with the long jump, shot put and pole vault, with the running finals starting at 1 p.m.
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