7 Butler athletes headed to state indoor track meet

By John Enrietto
Eagle Sports Editor

BUTLER TWP — Seven members of the Butler High indoor track and field team will compete in the state meet Saturday at Penn State University.
Evan Gomez, the Golden Tornado's lone male qualifier, is seeded 11th with a qualifying time of 1 minute, 58.46 seconds in the 800 meters. Gomez finished sixth at last year's state meet.
The qualifying time in the boys 800 meters was 2:00.6. Gomez surpassed it during Butler's first meet of the season.
“He took some time off during the winter because he didn't want to run himself out,” Butler boys coach Rick Schontz. “Evan's healthy and he's running well. He has an excellent chance of finishing among the top three.”
The Butler boys have never had an individual state indoor champion. Jared Farabee finished second in the pole vault in 1998.
For the Tornado girls, junior Paige Rittelmann is bidding for her third medal at the state meet in the high jump. She placed third as a sophomore with a jump of 5 feet, 4 inches and fourth as a freshman with that distance.
Rittelmann's qualifying jump this year is 5-4 and she is seeded fifth.
“In the high jump, athletes can get a mental block at a certain height,” Butler coach Annessa Steele said. “Paige is coming off her best meet in three years last week (at the Tri-State Coaches Association event).
“She was way above 5-6. She was just clipping her heels on the bar. If she can hit 5-6 Saturday, she'll likely finish in the top three. I'm thinking 5-7 or 5-8 will win it,” the coach added.
Butler has three qualifiers in the triple jump. Junior Lexis Frost, who won the event at the Tri-State Coaches Association meet, is seeded fourth with a qualifying leap of 36-6˝.
Frost has been competing for only a couple of weeks since returning from an Achilles injury.
“Her best shot at an indoor title is probably next year,” Steele said. “But she stands an excellent chance of placing high.”
Senior Meghan Studds is seeded 11th with a jump of 35-9 and senior Hannah Williams is seeded 13th with a jump of 35-7.
All three triple jumpers are making their first appearances in the state meet. Studds also is the ninth seed in the long jump with a leap of 17-8.
Sophomores Ava Bonetti and Becky Arturo are making their first state meet appearances in the shot put and pole vault, respectively. Bonetti is the 13th seed with a throw of 37-4.
Arturo pole vaulted 10-6 at last weekend's meet to qualify for the state championship.
The top eight finishers in each event will medal.
“My goal is to get all six of our girls to medal. Realistically, they all have a chance,” Steele said.