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In honor of Eddie

Ed Hartman Memorial Mile to highlight annual Butler Invitational

BUTLER TWP — More than 40 years after his death, Ed Hartman is still receiving honors in Butler.

The latest recognition is through the “Ed Hartman Memorial Mile,” the new name for the 1,600-meter race at Friday night’s Butler Invitational. Times will be kept for the 1,600 and the actual mile during that event.

Hartman, a multisport standout at Butler High School in the 1970s, was killed by a drunken driver in an automobile accident the day before his wedding in 1983.

Butler track and field coach Mike Seybert was a classmate of Hartman’s during his high school years in Butler.

“He was the best athlete in the school,” Seybert recalled. “Eddie set the school record in the 1,600 despite being on the baseball team as well during the spring season. He played football, basketball ... The kid was just amazing at every sport he played.

“More important than being an incredible athlete, Eddie was an incredible person. He was going to be a minister.”

Seybert said the decision to rename the 1,600 the Ed Hartman Memorial Mile coincides with Golden Tornado senior Drew Griffith’s bid to break the four-minute mile that night.

But it won’t be a one-year thing.

“Once we put a name on something, it’s forever,” Seybert emphasized. “This race will always have Ed Hartman’s name attached to it.”

Griffith ran the mile in 4 minutes, 2 seconds, in a race during the indoor season despite coming into contact with another runner on the track. He has no issue with stating that Friday would be the perfect night to get under the four-minute mark.

“This is the biggest track and field event we host every year and it will have the most people in the stands,” Griffith said. “This is the night I want to do this, and to do it in a race carrying Eddie Hartman’s name would be so special.

“The man is a legend. I’d love to have my name attached to his. My body feels ready for this. It would be pretty cool to do it on this night.”

Hartman was named MVP of the 1978 Butler Invitational after winning the 1,600 and 880-meter races that night.

Susan Reichart is his younger sister and described him as the perfect role model when she was growing up.

“Everybody loved Eddie. People gravitated to him,” Reichart said. “I admired his love for the Lord. Everything he did was in the name of Jesus.

Butler’s Drew Griffith gets off to a good start in the boys 1,600 meters during a section meet earlier this season. Griffith hopes to break the four-minute mile during the Ed Hartman Memorial Mile event at Friday night’s Butler Invitational. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)

“He’d come home from a high school practice after the rest of the family had already eaten. Our parents would have his dinner waiting for him and, despite being hungry, Eddie would always take the time to play in the yard with the little kids next door who waited for him to come home.

“That’s who he was. He always put others before himself. He had such humility and was so genuine.”

Calvin Troup, now president of Geneva College — where Hartman played quarterback — was a close friend of his and was in that fatal car accident with him.

“Calvin talks about Eddie to every freshman class at Geneva,” Reichart said. “His character and values go on. He was beloved by so many people.”

Another close friend of Hartman’s, Fave Fox, bought his 1971 Pontiac LeMans from Hartman so the latter could pay for an engagement ring. He’s since used that vehicle as a shrine to his lost friend, featuring plenty of Ed Hartman memorabilia.

“I have a lot of Eddie’s jackets and other personal items his family gave me,” Fox said. I’ll be out of town Friday, otherwise I’d have loved to have brought that car up to the track. What they’re doing there is a nice way to honor his legacy.“

“In terms of competition, this Invite is always special,” Seybert said. “But, no doubt, that 1,600 will be the marquee event of the night.”

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