Butler alumni run in Olympics

Butler University was well represented at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London as graduates Scott Overall and Ava Hutchinson competed in the marathon.

The former Bulldogs competed close to home, with London native Overall running for Great Britain and Hutchinson representing Ireland.

Photos courtesy of Butler Sports Information

Matt Roe, Butler cross country and track and field coach, said that it was his predecessor Joe Franklin, who began bringing runners from the British Isles to Butler.

“He got one international athlete, and that led to two,” Roe said. “They were in a supportive environment, and it ended up being a kind of word-of-mouth type of recruiting.

“Now, we have a long range and line of student-athletes from the U.K. that have had a lot of success, and (Butler) became a destination for international athletes.”

Overall arrived at Butler in 2004 to continue his college education and further his running career.

“The NCAA system is massive (in the United States), so you have to compete at a higher level than you would if you just stayed in the U.K.,” Overall said. “You’re pushed harder (in the United States) in terms of competition, and the training environment at the universities means you’re training with a team and you’re training for the same races.

“I think it was definitely a good move on my part to go out there.”

Overall competed in long distance competitions, such as the 5,000-meter run, while at Butler but was unable to qualify for the Olympics in the event.

Last September, he ran his first full marathon in Berlin. He beat the Olympic-qualifying time by 65 seconds, finishing fifth with a time of 2:10:55.

While competing for Butler, Hutchinson mostly competed in the 1,500-meter run but had never run a marathon until last October in Dublin.

She qualified for the Olympics by finishing the Houston Marathon in a time of 2:35:33. The event was her second career marathon.

Darren Gauson, Butler assistant cross country and track and field coach and a former teammate of Overall and Hutchinson, said that Overall made the right move in transitioning to the marathon.

“In the 5K, the Olympic Games standard was 13:20, and he was knocking on the door but not quite getting there,” Gauson said. “In the 10K, he really just decided to bypass that and move to the marathon, and he ran 2:10 at Berlin and ran really well from there.”

As the day of the contest arrived, Overall said the atmosphere of the Olympic marathon was unlike any race he had ever experienced.

“I don’t think I’m ever going to race in a marathon or a half-marathon like that,” Overall said. “The crowds were four or five deep all the way around, and it was just ridiculous on the course. It was just constant noise for over two hours.”

Overall finished 61st at the men’s marathon with a time of 2:22:37.

Stephen Kiprotich from Uganda won the men’s race in 2:08:01.

Hutchinson came in at 68th in the women’s marathon at 2:37:17.

With a time of 2:23:07, Tiki Gelana from Ethiopia finished first in the women’s marathon.

Overall said his finish in the heat-plagued race disappointed him.

“I should have finished in the top 20, I would think,” Overall said. “Had I raced a bit more conservatively in the first half, I wouldn’t have suffered as much in the second half as I did with the heat.

“It’s just kind of one of those days when, unfortunately, it was the Olympic Games, and I had a bad run on the day. But you know, I’m looking forward to other races now.”

Overall now has his sights set on the New York City Marathon in November as he begins to prepare for what is hopefully another Olympic run.

“I’ve been lucky enough to go to one Olympics, and I don’t want to remember my Olympic experience just on that one race because it wasn’t very good,” Overall said. “So I want to go to Rio and sort of try and perform better.”

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