What was unquestionably the most disheartening moment of Josh Butscher’s cross country career helped fuel his most memorable one.
After just missing out at advancing to the WIAA Division 1 State Cross Country Championships last year, the Waterford High School standout was understandably dejected.
“I was crushed; I was really crushed,’’ Butscher said.
But that difficult setback made Butscher more determined to do everything in his power to make his senior season a special one by advancing to state. After taking a few days off to recover from running in last year’s sectionals, Butscher ran religiously. By his estimation, he ran 25 to 30 miles a week while working on increasing his pace.
And every time he put in a workout, Butscher said his mind would drift to the 2016 sectional meet. “I was always thinking about that,” he said.
Those thoughts are now a distant memory. Butscher enjoyed a banner season and finished fourth at the Arrowhead Sectional to cement a spot in the state meet at Wisconsin Rapids.
Butscher finished 43rd at state, the top finish among Racine County entrants. For his stellar season, Butscher was accorded Athlete of the Year honors on the All-Racine County Boys Cross Country team selected by the county coaches. Dan Jarrett of Case was chosen by his peers as the Boys Coach of the Year.
While Butscher’s selection as Athlete of the Year was hardly surprising, nobody would have expected such a development three years ago.
That’s because Butscher played soccer his freshman season before switching to cross country as a sophomore. Even Butscher acknowledged he didn’t think he would ever become an accomplished cross country runner.
“I never thought any of this would happen,’’ said Butscher, who plans to attend UW-La Crosse and hopes to run for the Eagles. “I just thought cross country would be more fun for me. It turned out to be awesome.’’
Jarrett guided a Case team that overcame some significant injuries and illnesses to have a highly rewarding season.
The Eagles finished second to Kenosha Bradford in the Southeast Conference Championships and just missed advancing to state after finishing third in the sectional behind Muskego and Bradford. The top two teams qualified for state.
Asked what he thought was the highlight of the season, Jarrett said, “I was most proud of all the people who had major injuries and how they worked through them and came together at the end of the season.
“Michael Stapleman had sinus surgery and Milo Altimarano had a hip injury and we had some other problems. It says a lot about the group of men we had this year.’’
The 45-year-old Jarrett, who finished his seventh season as the Eagles head coach, said he was surprised by his selection as Coach of the Year.
“I wasn’t the all-county coach of the year, in my mind,’’ Jarrett said. “There were others who were more deserving. I feel privileged to get it, but I also feel it was bestowed on me because we had a group of men who knew how to compete. Never is a coach nominated for this award unless you had runners who were talented and disciplined.’’