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Butche medals in big school state indoor 3,200

MEDALIST: Mississinewa senior Brennan Butche works his way to the lead of the 3,200 meter state indoor championship race Saturday at Indiana University. Butche started poorly and had to work his way through the 24-runner field and still ran a PR of 9:20 while finishing sixth in the race.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

BLOOMINGTON — Running fast and winning races go hand-in-hand.

And throughout his stellar cross country and track career at Mississinewa, senior Brennan Butche has done a lot of both.

Butche ran fast Saturday morning during the big school (4A, 5A, 6A in football classes) 3,200-meter race at the Hoosier State Relays, the indoor state championships hosted by the Indiana Track and Cross County Coaches Association and Indiana University.

He shaved nearly three seconds off his personal best time to finish the event in 9:20.96 and reestablish the Ole Miss record which he already held.

But Butche was also pinched at the start as the top 24 distance runners in Indiana all jostled for as much space on the track they could find, and he immediately dropped toward the tail end of the field.

In true Butche fashion, though, he began working his way toward the front and even led the race with about five of the 16 laps remaining.

However, the energy he expended in getting to the front left Butche with little for the kick and he eventually faded to a sixth-place finish. That landed him on the medal podium, but was of little consolation for how the race went.

“It’s just a very physical race,” Butche said. “People say running isn’t very physical, but it really is. You get kicked, you get elbowed, you get shoved. Indoor is so much different than outdoor.

“I’m still kind of visulizing the race over and over,” he added. “I’m happy with a 9:20, that was good, but I would much rather win than run fast so I’ve just got to come back and work harder next week.”

Butche qualified for the event as a junior as well and knew what to anticipate at the start. Last season he was knocked completely off the track on the first lap and nearly again toward the end.

Known for his fast starts in cross country races during his career, where he would sprint to the front of the field to get out ahead of potential congestion, Butche decided to take a more patient approach Saturday.

“I thought about that over and over today from the time I woke up until the time I started the race, about how the start happened last year,” he said. “You have a little window you have to try and make it through and I decided not to take it.

“If I do I’m wasting so much energy getting in front of everyone else,” Butche continued. “If I do they can just sit on me and wait until a couple of laps to go and out-kick me. That was my plan, to out-kick people, but I got too rambunctious, I guess, and wanted to go and I went too early.”

Butche worked his way toward the front by doing a majority of his passing to the outside of the pack in lane two or lane three. The strategy got him to the lead but left him to be stalked and passed by Jesse Hamlin of Fort Wayne Snider (19:06), who won going away, second-place finisher Ryan Ruppert (19:16) from Homestead, then three other runners over the last 100 meters.

“With about a mile to go (in the two-mile race) I noticed they started to pick it up and I knew if I didn’t go with them that would have been the end of the race,” Butche said. “I started to go with them.

Around (five to go) I decided to take over and I probably should have waited until maybe two laps to go or even one lap,” he added. “That’s just some of the small things I would like to change.”

Ole Miss also competed in the distance medley relay, a race with a 1,200-meter leg, followed by an 800, a 400, then a mile. Jon Alsup, Andre Sallade, Jacob Ehmer and Butche took those respective turns and finished in 11:05.50, good for 20th in the meet.

The Indians qualified for the event by running an 11:01.70 at Taylor University’s last chance qualifying meet March 15.

“We had to make a substitution from the 1,200 of our qualifying time, but Jon stepped up and ran his best in 1,200,” Ole Miss coach Leonard Arbogast said. “The 1,200 is just a hard race, period. He’s more of a two-miler for us.

“Our times were right where we’ve been for the most part,” he added. “We’re kind of ahead of where we thought we’d be to qualify for this meet.”

The lone other Grant County athlete to qualify for the big school HSR was Marion sophomore Zaimar Burnett in the 60-meter dash. Burnett, the lone freshman in Indiana to qualify for the state outdoor meet last June, finished 23rd after running a 7.25 in the first of four preliminary races.

Hamilton Southeastern junior Noah Malone won the 60 with a time of 6.88 seconds.

Now the outdoor season begins and runners can use Saturday as a springboard into upcoming competitions.

“It shows you where everyone is now and shows you how everyone is progressing,” Butche said of the HSR. “It puts you in a spot to see where you’re at in the state.

“It’s a very good meet. If you do good in it it makes you excited for the outdoor season,” he continued. “If you do bad it makes you work harder to still get ready for the outdoor season so there are two positives to the race.”

Carmel scored 38 points to edge Ben Davis (35) for the team championship in the boys' event.

Warren Central (59) won the girls' team title over Hamilton Southeastern (52).