Morgan Butler throws a discus during the 1A track and field state championships held last week at Western Oregon University in Monmouth. (Photo by Steve Talbot)
HARPER – Dedicated, passionate and coachable – those are just a few of the words community members use to describe Harper High School senior Morgan Butler.
Growing up on his family’s ranch in Juntura, Butler has learned the value of hard work and perseverance.
Friendly and affable, he’s also known at school as a friend to all.
In athletics, he’s been a force to be reckoned with despite significant injuries that dogged him through high school.
This season in track and field, he dominated in discus, long jump, and the 200- and 400-meter dashes. At last week’s state meet in Monmouth, Butler finished first in discus, third in long jump and fourth in the 200.
The road to success hasn’t been easy for Butler.
Two weeks after starting his freshman year of track, he was building fence on the ranch when he slipped on a hillside and a metal fence post sliced into the arch of his left foot.
Despite that injury, he went on to finish second at districts in discus, advanced to state, and finishing 12th overall.
His challenges didn’t end there.
As a sophomore, Butler sustained a major leg injury while hunting.
Again he recovered and was able to place second in district in discus and then go on to take sixth at state.
As a junior, Butler smashed the Harper High discus record at his first meet with a throw of 137 feet, 10 inches.
He also excelled in the 100-meter dash, long jump and triple jump.
At districts, he placed second in the 100, first in long jump and and first in triple jump.
He threw the discus 141-7, breaking his own record and earning a gold medal. Advancing to state, he took fourth place in the 100 and triple jump, second in the long jump and first in discuss – with a throw of 146-4.
At the start of his senior year, it seemed bad luck was a thing of the past.
But two days into football practice Butler, the senior quarterback, planted his foot wrong and tore the meniscus his left leg.
That ended his high school football career but remained hopeful about basketball and track.
Then, while playing in a basketball game, Morgan again injured his left knee. This injury took him out for the rest of the season and required reconstructive surgery.
Entering the track season, a recovered Butler persevered.
On May 9, he made it to the top of the podium at the 1A District Meet in Baker City.
He won in the 200 dash in 23.17, the discus with a throw of 151-1, and the long jump at 21-5.
He also placed third in the 400-meter dash with 52.64.
He advanced to state in all four events – an uncommon feat for a high school athlete.
Butler was joined by two younger teammates at state: Corbin Palmer and Ryan Talbot.
At districts, Palmer, a sophomore, placed second in the 110-meter hurdles at 16.36, third in the 300-meter hurdles at 41.94, second in long jump at 19-10.25, and second in triple jump at 40- 9.
Talbot, a freshman, placed first in the 110 hurdles at 16.18, fifth in the 300 hurdles at 44.62, and fifth in pole vault at 9 feet, 6 inches.
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