Blaine standout Caleb Butler finished his final prep season in a Bengal uniform at the state track and field meet June 7.
Butler, a three-sport captain for the Bengals, will play football in the fall at North Dakota State University. But before he could turn his focus to the gridiron, he had to give it his all in the throwing events at the state meet.
A shoulder injury late in the football season could have ended his senior wrestling and track days, but resilience and commitment to rehabilitating helped him not only continue to compete, but do so at a high level.
He placed fourth in the Class AAA 220-pound state wrestling tournament before surgery in mid-March sidelined him briefly ahead of the track season.
Blaine throws coach Ty Kytta said Butler quickly regained his throwing form with help from a sling.
Butler threw the discus 137 feet in the first outdoor meet of the season and reached 145 feet a couple weeks later, still in the sling.
As for shot put, Butler chose to use a glide to throw instead of spin because of the sling, which he stopped using in competition ahead of the Blaine Invitational. Once again, he increased the distances going 154 feet with the discus and over 49 feet on the shot put.
“That was pretty incredible,” Kytta said, adding the automatic state qualifying distance needed was 158-5 and Butler did that another six times before sections.
Butler went 158-5 with the discus and a season-best shot put distance of 52-9 at the section true team meet before returning to the track to compete in hurdles, a relay and throwing events, garnering him Northwest Suburban Conference Athlete of the Meet honors at the conference championships in May.
At sections, Butler felt pain in his hamstring as he practiced hand offs with the 4×100 relay team. He didn’t tell anyone about the injury, but still managed to place sixth in the 110-meter hurdles. After talking with Kytta about the situation leading into discus, Butler knew he needed to get to the automatic distance as soon as possible instead of going the full six throws to qualify for state.
“The trainers told him to keep moving so it didn’t tighten up on him,” Kytta said. “He did that and in the first two (discus) rounds goes in the 140s. So I told him to get the automatic distance then I would scratch him. I could tell he was in pain.”
Butler turned out a discus throw of 162 feet in what Kytta described as one of the gutsiest things he’s ever seen.
Blaine’s 4×100-meter relay team of Rodney Williams, Ted Rainwater-Walker, Scott Jevne and Logan Nelson finished eighth in 44.54 seconds. The foursome qualified for finals with a second-place run in a tough third heat that included Rosemount and Columbia Heights in a time of 42.64.
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