Bolles Jumper Ashton Butler Eyeing 2014 & Beyond

It's no secret that the athletic genes run in Ashton Butler's family. His brother Jamaal ran at Texas Tech and was on numerous national teams for the Bahamas. His sister was a star swimmer in the Bahamas and went onto swim at Florida State. When he was younger media outlets in the island nation started tabbing them as a future Olympic trio. 
"That is the truth. My sister goes to FSU. she was on the Bahamas swimming team for years and on scholarship for swimming. Her freshman year of high school she missed the Olympic cut by less than half a second. My brother competed in CARIFTA in Trinidad, CAC, World Youth in China and World Juniors in Africa, and the NCAA Championship. I wanted to follow in his footsteps. That is how I got started in the sport."
He moved to Florida for his freshman year and enrolled at the Bolles School in Jacksonville. Butler always dreamed of playing baseball, but a terrible shoulder injury derailed those dreams. Track and field coach Dan Dearing plucked him from the diamond and brought him over to the runway. A long jump and triple jump specialist, Butler had been posting marks of 45 and 46 feet early on his first season,  but pulled his hamstring before the district meet. Not to be deterred, the freshman fought on and punched his ticket to state clearing 44'3.5" in the triple jump and finishing ninth overall. He says his mindset was to stay focused.
"It sucks when you see progress putting in its place and then it all goes away. My mindset was just to go back to the drawing board,  get healthy, and do work again."
The Nassau native put in the work and improved on his ninth place finish as a freshman by leaping over 47 feet and claiming the 2A runner-up trophy as a sophomore. Two months later he put up the best performances of his career where he uncorked jumps of 48'11" and 49'5" to win the BAAA Junior Nationals in Nassau and CAC Junior Championships in San Salvador. He says competing in international meets made him feel much more comfortable in local competition.
"Being the Central American and Caribbean Games champion at the end of my sophomore year took a lot of pressure off of me and increased my confidence above all."
One of the highlights of Butler's career came at the 2013 CARIFTA Games which were held at Thomas A. Robinson Stadium in his hometown of Nassau. Despite finishing in sixth place, he says it was a great experience.
"Getting that feeling where I knew my country is truly behind me made the experience even better. Competition was intense, a level that I haven't seen in high school competition here in the U.S, but none the less I competed at my highest level."
Butler finished off the 2013 season with a third place showing at the state meet. His mark of 46'10" was four and a half inches less than what he attained as a sophomore. The bronze medal showing really hit him hard. He says he began to lose confidence, but not for long.
"It was disappointing because I was second in my sophomore year and jumped further that summer than the guys that beat me at states each year. However, I didn't allow it to get the best of me for too long. I attacked this off season from day one when I got back to school in Florida."
Minor injuries here and there were obstacles he had to overcome things he addressed over the summer. He didn't harp on them instead looking at them as a minor setback for a major come back. He says his motto this year has been every drill, every time.
"I've been trying to live by that every day and work hard So when competition comes around I can execute."
Hitting the weight room and working on his strength in addition to improving his technique on the runway have paved the way for success in 2014. In his first meet of the year, the Bolles Preseason Mini Meet, Butler set a new personal best of 23'5" in the long jump and an impressive early season mark of 46'10" in the triple jump. He says overall he was very pleased with the performances.
"Getting a personal best in the long jump on Thursday was a great feeling and I owe it all to God. It was 40 degrees outside and my first outdoor meet of the season,  but I didn't let it get the best of me. My triple jump was also pretty good.  During my first jump , rain started to come down and I got in a mark of 46'10" from six total steps which felt really good,  but it's only the beginning."
Bolles coach Dan Dearing calls his latest performance ridiculous and believes he has the potential to go over 50 feet this year. Unfortunately, for Dearing and Butler, he will not be able to participate for the Bulldogs this season. His high school eligibility with the FHSAA is up, because of his time spent in the Bahamas as a freshman, even though he meets the age requirements to run. Dearing says despite that he will still compete at many of the meets his teammates attend but as an "unattached athlete."
"He is out of high school eligibility.  He is a senior at Bolles and training with us as a part of the team, but he cannot compete for us in regular high school meets. He will compete in the college sections at Florida Relays, FSU Relays, UNF Invitational and a few other meets. It's unfortunate, but not a surprise."
Recently, the talented senior announced his college decision after visits to the University of Miami, University of Florida, Florida State, and Purdue. He says the decision was tough, and it was a toss- up because all schools were really good, but it was the Seminoles that ultimately won his signature.
"It came down to a combination with the best academics,  a great track program,  WEATHER, and some place that would feel like home to me. After countless days thinking it over, I decided to attend Florida State."
Now that the decision is behind him, Butler can focus on what's next. He hopes to match himself up with the top collegiate athletes so that when he transitions to the next level in the fall he will be comfortable and ready to go.
"My goals this season are just to continue progressing and being comfortable on the run way. I've qualified for CARIFTA already and now I'm working my way to qualify for Central American and Caribbean Championships,  as well as World Juniors in Oregon. The elite post season meets boost my confidence so much because those meets are where all the big names got their start."

Big names like Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, Kirani James, and Leevan Sans. It's company Butler says one day he hopes he is mentioned in.
"Big things are on the horizon. It's all too make my parents proud. They put so much money,  time, and effort into my sports career. I just want to make them proud."

We are also excited to announce that Ashton will be blogging for throughout the season sharing his workouts, meet experience, and much more!

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