WICHITA, Kan. – Cheered on by a personal fan club of family and friends, Bill Butterworth, 82, competed in dual events at the masters indoor track meet held Saturday, Jan. 26th, at Wichita State University’s Heskett Center.
Those cheers became a round of thunderous applause for Bill when the entire track meet was named for the longtime Masters Track and Field All-American, for his great contribution to the sport. He received a lovely plaque to commemorate the event, which will be forever named in his honor.
While there were several outstanding performers at the inaugural Bill Butterworth Open/Masters Track and Field Meet, sponsored by the Shocker Track Club, including 33 All-American Standard performances, none were more inspiring than Butterworth.
As his shot put launched into a perfect arch, making its mark for another outstanding performance; or, as he leaped into the pit for another mark for the standing long jump record books, one wondered, what was going through the mind of the 82 year-old competitor?
“Wow, this meet is named after me?” Or, “What do you know? I got another attempt off.” Or, “I can’t believe this!” Not knowing for sure but knowing Bill Butterworth, my guess is that it was a humble expression of all three.
The day was not so much about Bill’s performances at this particular meet as it was a celebration of the contribution that he has made to our sport. Bill, it was an exciting thrill to be with you on a very special day of competition and, again, Thank You!
The first-ever Bill Butterworth meet was a celebration of Masters Track and Field; the joy and sense of accomplishment it brings to those who participate, and to those who are inspired by watching these dedicated athletes compete in the sport.
Some of my most cherished friendships are masters athletes. I was jumping up and down inside as I watched my peers at this meet. Their dedication and devotion to their events, their competitive spirit, the high level of integrity and sportsmanship that exudes from every stride, every jump, every throw, every effort inspires and encourages me. I appreciate, so much, what each one brought to this meet!
As you look at the results, you can see how difficult this is to present the meet highlights in this article. I ought to just cut and paste the results and offer line by line commentary. Everyone did such a great job! Be sure to look at the results, as I won’t be able to put everyone’s times and marks in.
Our friend, Bob Lida (75-79) offered a championship performance. The World Record holder showed his Jayhawk colors well as he Rock Chalked his way to an 8.69 in the 60 and 28.0 in the 200 meters. Francois Boda (45-49) lit up the track with a 7.57 and a 24.60. Claire Overstake (55-59) carried the mantle for the women with times of 10.17; 13.33 (60H); 36.37 and 1:30.12. And, newcomer LaVeta Gardner (30-34) showed well with 10.28 and 35.34 in the 60 and 200, respectively. The women’s veteran, Christel Donley (75-79), had a super-charged 11.99 in the 60 while bringing her A-game in the High Jump and Long Jump to win first place with 3’4.5” and 7’2.25”. Christel capped it off with a 26’ first place mark in the Shot Put.
Christel’s husband, Jerry Donley (80-84), is no B-Teamer. He claimed first place in the High Jump at 3’1.25”, 1st place in the Pole Vault at 6’and 2nd in the Shot Put at 27’1.75”. But, he was up against Bill Butterworth who put 30’ for the gold and who also stepped up to 1st place in the Standing Long Jump at 5’9.75”.
Another married masters duo who left their marks at the Heskett Center were Ken Ellis (55-59) and Joann Ellis (55-59). Joann took first in the High Jump, Pole Vault, Shot Put, Long Jump, and tied for first with Overstake in the Standing Long Jump. Ken Hurdled for 1st place while High Jumping and Pole Vaulting for the gold and just missing first place in the Shot Put. Jim Squires (55-59) took that event with a mark of 40’7.75”. And, speaking of the Shot Put, John Curtis, Jr. (70-74) launched a 39’11.25” mark to take first place. Also, Mike Bell (65-69) and Randy Hansen (50-54) both claimed first place in the Shot Put for their age divisions.
It has been my pleasure to watch Steve and Donna Wilson train together. Both compete but Steve also steps into the role of Coach for Donna and they make a great masters team. Donna (55-59) is battling back to full strength after knee surgery and showed very well with 1st in the Triple Jump and 2nd in the Mile, 3000, and Long Jump. She invited a friend, Vicki Engelhardt (55-59) to compete and Vicki took first in the Mile and 3000!
Steve Wilson (60-64) would have brought it to the Sprints but is also recovering from injury. He managed to wear a little Gold around his neck on the way home from the High Jump, Standing Long Jump and Long Jump.
Kay Glynn (55-59), a nationally renowned Pole Vaulter came all the way from Iowa to put on a “clinic” in her event. It was a charge to see her clear 9 feet! She has the highest vault in the nation for her age group of just over 9 ½ feet.
An Open Athlete who really stood out was Javier Ceja (19-29) who ran a 4:26 mile and an 8:46 3000. It was a phenomenal effort and a joy to watch! And, Mr. Z! — Rod Zook (50-54) may be last alphabetically but he ranked in the A column with a 2:14.78 800 Meter time.
And, Alex Meyer (70-74) competed in everything from A to Z! 3rd in the 60; 2nd in the 60 Hurdles, Long Jump & Triple Jump; and 1st in the 200, 400, 800, Mile, High Jump, Pole Vault, Standing Long Jump and 4th in the Shot Put. I heard that he won the 1976 Olympics all by himself!
One of the highlights for me was seeing athletes from Friends University perform in our Open Division. Coach Damian Smithisler brought 15 athletes who offered an infusion of energy that elevated this meet to an exceptional level. It was really special to see the Friends president, TJ Arant (55-59) and his wife, Susan competing with these college athletes. TJ was unable to complete all of his events due to an injury but did manage to heave the shot 24’2.25”. Susan Arant (50-54) brought an effort of 23’6.25” with the women’s shot for first place.
I am running out of space! Again, take a look at the results. Congratulations to these athletes for tremendous efforts and performances: David Angel, Al Salmon, Bob Peters, Curtis Cline, Carlos Cox, Craig Benham, John Gregory, Jim Ross, Joe Roche, Tony Sumler, Stephen Anderson, Ernie Snodgrass, Darren Muci, Roger Davis, Randall Olson, Jon Bingesser, Richard Beattie, Steve Osborn, Terry Smith, Ben Leflore, Keith Long, Randy McDermott, Randy Hansen, Brad Chatfield, Bronson Webb, Kelly Meirs, Wade Sorenson, Eric Jacobson, James Snook, Ed Nicewander, Sheppard Miers, Eric Jacobson and Kelly Meares.
Two masters athletes were unable to attend this meet due to health issues within their families. Stephen Cox from Arkansas stayed home to care for his mother who is in serious condition. And, Elmer Mickey’s wife is undergoing treatments for cancer. Our thoughts and prayers are with these guys and the challenges that they are facing with their loved ones.
So, was the first-ever Bill Butterworth Indoor Track and Field Meet worth it? ONLY if you wanted to see the top athletes in the Region with KS, NE, OK, MO, IA, TX, and CO represented. ONLY if you wanted to see World Record holders and Nationally ranked athletes competing at their best. ONLY if you enjoy the special bond generated among masters and open athletes in the height of the competitive spirit. ONLY if you want to compete in one of the best indoor venues available. ONLY if you want to surround yourself with the best volunteers and officials in the world. And, ONLY if you love USATF Track and Field.
We look forward to seeing all of you again at our outdoor master’s meet to be held in late summer or early fall, and again at next year’s Bill Butterworth Open/Master’s competition.
Here are a few free photos courtesy of STC: http://tinyurl.com/aw43wdd
Here are several more photos available for purchase from Mark Miranda Photography: www.MarkMirandaPhotography.com/butterworth