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It could be argued East Butler track and field is in the midst of a renaissance. Though the Tigers boys and girls didn't quite qualify the same number of events to Omaha as they did in 2018 (12), it was more of an even split this time around.

The dozen that were at state a year ago was the highest combined total in the past 10 years. It included nine boys events and three from the girls. A year later and it was a 10 event total with the boys represented four times and the girls six.

It's the second highest total of the past decade and makes it back-to-back years in which East Butler sent 10 or more.

The run started in 2017 with five from the boys and four from the girls, but before then it was almost as if the Tigers were wandering in the wilderness.

After splitting evenly with five each in 2009, the most the boys sent over the next seven state meets was four. For the girls, that number was the same.

Together, East Butler never had more than five combined. The boys managed just one each in 2011, 2012 and 2015. The girls were shut out from any entries in 2010, 2014 and 2016.

In the past three years, both the boys and girls have sent more athletes and more events to state than in the previous seven years combined.

There's still a little bit of ground to make up to start scoring in the top 10 of the team standings like East Butler was just a few years back, but where those accomplishments were put together by just a handful of athletes, there's certainly more than just one or two contributing to the cause while the Tigers look to be building back to a bright future.

"It's pretty close to what I did last year, a little better. I'm just glad to be able to be here and experience this. It's a really neat thing. Last year I think I was intimidated by the competition and the crowd. This year I'm a little more accustomed to it," said junior Matthew Janak after collecting his second state medal of the meet in the 200-meter dash.

Janak was fourth in the 200 following a seventh-place showing in the 100. It's a second straight double-medal trip to Omaha after Janak was eighth in the 100 and fourth in the 200 as a sophomore.

"I have to keep working hard, and mental preparedness is a big part of it," Janak said about what his prospects are as a senior. "I'll see what the competition is and how prepared I am. If I go into it thinking that I'm not going to do as well or I just want to be done it isn't going to happen. I just have to be up for it and just do it."

Janak and Tristan Rezac, 10th in the shot put, will be two returning state athletes for the boys in 2020.

For the girls, they'll have a bigger contingent to replace with the graduations of Erin Barta (19th, discus), Vittoria Ruffa (ninth, shot put) and Whitney Spatz (17th, 1600) but there are many more who were in Omaha that look to be ready to make the next step.

Juniors Sophia Bergman, Olivia Bohac and Morgan Jones were on the 3200, Bergman and Bohac were on the 1600 relay and freshman Allie Rigatuso was also on the 1600 relay in addition to qualifying individually in the 300 hurdles.

Rigatuso was 20th in her first try at state, but was also one of just six freshman from Class D in the state to make it all the way to Omaha.

Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net.

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