Two years ago the New York State track and field championships were held at the University of Albany. Kait Butterfield was there, and the Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School athlete was impressed by the facility. Impressed enough to get her thinking about her future.
“The track is beautiful,” she said. “That’s actually how I decided that I wanted to go there. I was at the state meet there and I was like, ‘I love this place. I hope I could go here and be good enough to be on the team when the time comes.’ Now the time has come and I have improved enough.”
And Butterfield will trade in her Mercy green for Albany purple.The senior signed on three weeks ago to run cross country and track for the Great Danes.
Butterfield, who lives in Greenport, has run cross country, winter track and spring track for Mercy ever since she was a freshman. She has earned All-County status in all three sports the last two years.
Butterfield competed in her third cross-country state meet earlier this month. She finished 36th in Class C, completing five kilometers at Chenango Valley State Park in Chenango Forks in 20 minutes, 25.9 seconds.
Earlier, Butterfield took second place in the Section XI Championships for the second year in a row. She ran a time of 20:37.52 at Sunken Meadow State Park.
The run up to the cross-country season wasn’t ideal for Butterfield, who had her preseason training interrupted by a hip injury. She also had some big shoes to fill, assuming the role as the team’s top runner with the graduation of Meg Tuthill.
Collin Zeffer will leave Mercy later this month after three years of coaching the Mercy girls in cross country, winter track and spring track. Zeffer, who has accepted an assistant coaching position at the University of Pennsylvania, liked the way Butterfield handled herself.
“She really wanted to set that example, especially after Meg graduated, so that was kind of like her shoes to fill,” he said. “She did that. She worked hard every day and that’s what got her to the point she is at now.”
Zeffer said Butterfield, who was a team captain, leads by example through her work ethic. He called her “an incredibly hard worker, definitely talented, really driven.”
A middle-distance runner, Butterfield runs anywhere from 600 to 1,500 meters in winter track and 800 to 1,500 meters in outdoor track. She is in the Mercy record book as a member of the school’s record-setting indoor and outdoor 4×800 relay teams.
Butterfield knows there is a direct correlation between training and performance, with no shortcuts in between. “There’s really no hiding when it comes to track and field,” she said. “It’s either you put the work in or you didn’t because you’re just out there alone and everyone’s out there watching.”
Zeffer said Butterfield brings more to a team than just energy and hard work. “She’s a hard worker, but she can crack a joke every once in a while, too, so she definitely adds to the team atmosphere and she makes it a lot of fun,” he said. “So, those are the two sides of a teammate that you would want.”
Butterfield still has indoor and outdoor track seasons ahead of her before graduation day. She said she is enjoying running for the Monarchs.
“It’s been a fun four years,” she said. “We’ve gotten to go to so many amazing meets, Penn Relays, nationals, all the ones at the Armory, Millrose Games. So, just my experience here was amazing, definitely. I’ve gotten to do so many cool things, but I’m excited for the next two seasons because it’s not over yet.”
Photo caption: Bishop McGann-Mercy senior Kait Butterfield, a Greenport resident, has signed to run for the University of Albany. (Credit: Bob Liepa)