Camanche’s sole returning state qualifier has taken over leadership of the Storm cross country team and taken charge on reaching his season end goals.

Junior Andrew Butt is coming off of a trip to the Class 2A state race in 2020 and is aiming for a return to Fort Dodge.

“We think Andrew has the potential to have a breakout season,” Camanche head cross country coach Erin Montgomery said before the 2021 cross country season started. “He also had been running in the shadows of Dylan [Darsidan] the last two years. It is his time to shine and he has the experience to do that.”

Butt qualified as an individual last season after heading to state with the Camanche team in 2019 as a freshman. In 2020, he clocked in at 18:39.4 in 80th place in the field of Class 2A runners.

Joining him at state was teammate Dylan Darsidan.

“Andrew had an excellent role model in Dylan [Darsidan] the last couple of years and now Andrew is finding himself in that role model position,” Montgomery said.

Darsidan was a state champion in 2019 and medal winner last season as well. He learned a lot from training with a state champion. Plus, after running with Darsidan for two years, Butt is trying to take some of his leadership qualities into his new position at the head of the Storm cross country team.

“I learned so much from Dylan,” Butt said. “Every practice, every meet he was there to give me a goal or some advice to push me a little bit more. I’m trying to do the same with my teammates; give them some goals, help them mentally and help everyone do the best that they can.”

Butt says running has just always been the sport he’s enjoyed. It’s never really occurred to him to do anything else.

“I’ve always been a runner really,” Butt said. “My dad was a runner and did some triathlons and he got me into it. From there, I kept doing races and then in seventh grade I really enjoyed going out for cross country.”

After heading to the state meet the first time, he decided he wanted to be there the rest of his prep running career. He started with building his foundation and this summer he added to it.

He knew he wanted to have more of an edge.

“A couple years ago I just tried to get as many miles in as I could and I think that really helped to build a base for me,” Butt said. “I didn’t really have the speed I wanted. This offseason, I worked on more speed work to get my kick and my surges in the middle of the race up in good shape. I think that’s helped me to get a better kick at the end.”

Butt came in at 17:59 in the 2019 state race. He’s working towards that time again, hoping to get in the top part of the finishers.

He’s already ran races this year that have beat his 2020 state finish. In fact, Butt crossed the finish line in 17:57 at the Anamosa meet on Sep. 27.

Butt thinks that his real advantage might not come from his physical speed or strength, but from the way he approaches each race. He knows that when he might feel like quitting he’s able to push himself to that next competitive level.

“Mentally, I think that I can push myself a little bit more,” Butt said. “I can overcome those obstacles and be able to make myself go jsut a little bit more, push myself to the finish.”

Camanche will compete Thursday afternoon at the annual Jim Hetrick Invitational at Grace Lutheran Camp in DeWitt, along with many of the local area teams. The Class 2A state qualifying cross country meets take place on Thursday, Oct. 21.

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