Butler track and field is heading to the Big East Indoor Conference Championships

Senior Olivia Pratt leads a pack of runners in a race earlier this year. Photo from butlersports.com.

SAVANNAH BOETTCHER | STAFF REPORTER | sboettch@butler.edu

The Butler University men’s and women’s track and field team will head to Staten Island, N.Y., for the Big East Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 24.

The team will send around 40 of their 67 athletes.

“We have been gaining momentum throughout the year,” head coach Matt Roe said. “Our general expectations are that we are going to get better every week. In terms of the outcome we are unsure.”

In terms of individual performance, Roe described senior Erik Peterson as a “highly accomplished individual.”

Peterson finished 18th in the 10,000-meter run in last year’s Olympic trials with a time of 30:35.84. Earlier this month, he won the 3,000-meter run at the prestigious Meyo Invitational with a time of 7:51.21, and he finished third in the 5,000-meter run at the Husky Classic on Feb. 11 with a career best 13:40.90.

Peterson is a three-time All-American and a major asset for Butler. He will be competing in the 3K and 5K this weekend.

The Bulldogs will also send Olivia Pratt, two-time All-American and senior.

Pratt will compete in the 3K and 5K runs at conference. She won the 5K last year with a time of 16:15.69. Her most recent 5K run was a 16:19.98 at the Husky Classic where she finished 20th.

She finished second in the 3K last year with a time of 9:17.99. More recently, she finished in seventh place at the Meyo Invitational, crossing the finish line at the 9:26.38 mark.

“I’m actually a little behind on where I should be,” Pratt said. “I’m actually really grinding right now. I’m taking on as big of a workload right now so I can be my best.”

Pratt suffered a minor setback over winter break with a mild case of plantar fasciitis, the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a ligament in the foot.

Pratt’s best 5K run came at the 2016 Hoosier Open in early December when she snagged a second place finish with a time of 15:57.41.

“My goals are pretty high,” she said. “I go to conference to win races and score points for my team. Conference is the biggest team event that we have in track so it’s a really great experience.”

Pratt will be going to her last indoor conference championship this weekend.

“It’s kinda scary to know that I’m going to be leaving the team,” she said. “But I’m really excited about the future of the team.”

The team will also be sending freshmen along with the seasoned veterans, including first-year athlete Wade Walder.

Walder is a multi-event athlete and will be competing in the 60-meter hurdles and the pole vault. He will also be competing in the heptathlon, which consists of the 60-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60m hurdles, pole vault and 1,000-meter run, broken up into two days of competition. It is an event he has never competed in before.

“It’s all pretty new,” Walder said. “To be pretty honest, I don’t know what to expect. I’ve never done a heptathlon before, so I’m really just going to try to get close to my personal best in each event.”

Walder finished in eighth place in the pole vault competition at the Illinois Orange and Blue Open last weekend. His best distance was 4.16 meters while his top 60-meter hurdles time came at the Fred Wilt Open in late January with a time of 8.78.

Senior Abe Margo and sophomore Richard Clark will also be competing in the heptathlon. Since the multi-event athletes are in a different training schedule than the rest of the team, Walder spends much of his time at practice with Margo and Clark. Multi-event athletes spend more time on form and technique.

“I’m really looking forward to just hanging out with all my teammates and going to New York,” Walder said. “It’s going to be pretty hype.”

The meet will take place at the Ocean Breeze Track and Field Athletic Complex on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25.

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