April 9, 2008
By Darren Shimp
"Booty! Booty! Booty!"
The chants from the stands and sidelines will again be heard far and wide Friday, April 11, as Chad Butorac competes at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash., in the 37th Annual Pelluer Invitational hosted by Eastern Washington University.
The Inland Northwest-bred sprinter is slated to compete individually in the 200 meters and 400 meters, and will be running in both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays, all on Friday. He's no stranger to the track at Woodward Field either.
Growing up near Northport, Wash., a tiny town about 2.5 hours north of Cheney, Butorac lived on his family's ranch, which exceeds 1,400 acres in land and is nestled among highlands and the Columbia River. He had a 12-mile commute just to get to and from his high school in Northport every day.
Once his prep track seasons wound down, the schedule would culminate in a trip to Cheney, where he ran in the WIAA State B Championships each year at Woodward Field. He scored 68 points in three years for Northport, and won six individual sprint titles. He still holds the meet record for the 400 (48.58 seconds).
"It never hurts to have a lot of races on a track and be experienced with it," said Butorac.
Despite the state championships being walking distance from his office, Eagle track and field head coach Stan Kerr was unable to see Butorac run in person at Woodward Field, as his own team's schedule would take him elsewhere that time of year.
"There were a lot of alumni saying, `You've got to watch that Butorac kid,'" said Kerr. "He's no longer a secret anymore, as the whole Big Sky knows about him now."
Fast-forward to 2008, where the junior is a mere 0.14 seconds shy of breaking a 20-year-old record in the 400 (Hogan Wrixon, 47.05, 1988), but does not hesitate to admit this week may not be the meet at which the record gets eclipsed.
"It's a progression thing," said Butorac. "Deeper in the season, I hope to be getting that (record), but as of Saturday (April 5), I went 49.1, which is a little slow. But it's getting there. We're still hitting it hard in practice."
Despite being one of the stars on Eastern's squad, Butorac was redshirted for the 2008 winter indoor season. He will also be redshirted for the 2009 spring outdoor track season, giving him another full year of academic endeavors to pursue. While he was unable to travel with the team while redshirting this winter, Butorac and some other redshirts drove to some meets to support their teammates.
One example of their team unity, which should be visible from the stands, are the freshly-trimmed mohawks the relay members will be sporting -- or so Butorac claims.
Is there any aerodynamic advantage to gain with the 80s-esque-fashion statement?
"Not at all," said Butorac.
One advantage he does hold is his following of a principle orchestrated by United States Olympic track star Michael Johnson: Push, Pace, Power, Pray.
"It's the four P's," said Butorac. "You push coming out of the blocks, get up to speed. Then you relax a little bit and open up on the backstretch. You power through that third 100 meters where you start to feel your legs tire and that last hundred is whatever you have left. It's not the same as the 100 where you go balls-to-the-wall the whole time."
While considering a master's degree for his future, Butorac is currently focusing on finishing his bachelor's degree in biology. He eventually wants to teach high school and can be seen on EWU web site advertisements saying, "One day I'll ... be giving tests instead of taking them."
"I maybe want to go to Oregon for a little bit, just to see what it's like over there," said Butorac, who enjoys playing guitar and mountain biking in his spare time. "I may possibly coach some soccer."
Another of Butorac's off-track endeavors is his involvement with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), a worship group for high school and college athletes to demonstrate commitment to Jesus Christ. According to the group's web site (found at www.fca.org), its values are integrity, serving, teamwork and excellence.
"It's welcome to all student-athletes," said Butorac. "It's really growing right now. We're trying to branch out a little more (at Eastern), but it's kind of founded in track."
The personal life of Butorac is rooted from a strong family influence. His family is able to attend a handful of meets to see him run, as his father is a pilot.
"He comes from a really good community and a great home," said Kerr. "His mom and dad are great supporters - he works hard both athletically and academically."
According to Kerr, Butorac has transcended the "cliques" that generally develop among the varying groups of the team (i.e. distance runners, sprinters, throwers, etc.). That was evidenced by his recent performance of guitar-playing skills at the track and field team's "Eagle Idol" competition, which was designed as a team-bonding activity as well as an opportunity for the athletes to display their unique talents.
Rumor has it that Butorac rocked the house with his fret-master skills, reminiscent of the buzz -- and chants -- he could draw Friday at Woodward Field.