For The Daily Call
When Piqua resident Mike Butsch tore his Achilles tendon twice ― the second tear taking place while rehabbing from his first one ― he was not sure if he would get back to being a top-rated decathlon contestant again. Then when his foot died during surgery, he then knew that his decathlon days were over.
One of Butsch’s best events in the decathlon was the pole vault. He attended McPherson College, located in Kansas, where he was a pole vaulter. The ability to pole vault went away as well after Butsch’s injury.
Butsch, who was a teacher in Tipp City for 32 and a half years, quickly learned that track and field did not have to disappear entirely. He soon began to pick up some of the events in the decathlon that he did not need his foot for.
Butsch began to compete in solely throwing events ― shot put, discus, hammer throw, weight throw and javelin ― and he continues to do so into his late 60’s.
“I always loved track,” Butsch said. “This keeps me into track and it keeps me up. I am not always on my butt.”
Butsch will be competing in the National Senior Games in St. Paul, Minnesota where he will be a part of the 65-69 age group. The games take place July 3-16.
According to the National Senior Games Association the first games were held in St. Louis, Missouri in 1987 and have been held every other year since. The games consist of 19 different sports including track and field, cycling, golf and tennis.
This year’s games is not Butsch’s first go around competing in them. He competed in the last one in 2013, which was located in Cleveland, Ohio.
While In Cleveland Butsch found success in the events he competed in. He placed eighth in shot put, fourth in the hammer throw and ninth in discus.
Since the 2013 games Butsch has continued to make a name for himself. In June he traveled to Michigan where he competed in a throws pentathlon. A throws pentathlon consists of the five major throws ― shot put, discus, hammer throw, weight throw, and javelin.
After having success in Michigan, Butsch is currently number one in all of the United States and number two in the world in all five major throws.
Despite looking to defeat all of his fellow competitors Butsch also sees competing as a social event for himself.
“I have made a lot of friends while competing,” Butsch said. “Competing is actually very social, it is a good time.”
Butsch passed down his love for track and field to his two sons. His eldest son Steve was Piqua High School’s first state champion in 1985 when he won his pole vault event 15-7. His son Bryan was also a three-time state qualifier and placed sixth in the state in his respected event in 1991.
Butsch enjoys competing in track and field himself, but he loved watching his two sons take on the sport that he loved.
“Both of my sons were state qualifiers and I loved every minute of it because I coached them,” Butsch said.
Butsch will look to come back home to his family from Minnesota with something to show for it after competing in the National Senior Games.