Danny Buteau’s hand is raised after he earned a victory at the National Collegiate Wrestling Association championships last week in Allen, Texas. Buteau, a former Oak Hill athlete, wrestles for Husson University’s club team. (Sam Janicki photo) Sam Janicki photo

Crystal Buteau had to do something, if just for her own sanity. She had three children, only three years apart, all showing too much energy to keep cooped up in a house all day.

Help came in the form of a flier, advertising youth sports signups.

“It was three kids, close to the same age, a little crazy. I had to get them involved in something,” she said. “I just assumed I needed to do something with them.

“They played sports, they stuck with it, they were good at it.”

Excellent, even. The Buteaus – eldest Levi, middle child Dan and youngest Zoe, a senior – became an athletic trio that has piled up state championships for Oak Hill the way Walt Disney gathered Oscars. Between the three of them, the Buteaus have won 12 titles – Levi won three in football as a vital cog for Oak Hill’s three straight champions, Dan won four titles in wrestling and three in football, and Zoe won a field hockey championship as well as an individual wrestling title.

“It definitely adds up,” Dan said. “I think it’s going to be great to look back, even with my kids or anywhere in the future to say ‘Holy cow, we had a really good career.’ ”

And it’s a story that’s still being written. Zoe’s wrestling triumph came at 132 pounds in the first Maine girls tournament this February, and Dan, a sophomore at Husson, won the 141-pound title at the National Collegiate Wrestling Association championships in March.

“As a brother, it makes me prouder than heck,” Levi said of his siblings’ accomplishments. “It’s so awesome watching them getting better and better and pushing themselves. … It was just amazing to watch it happen.”

Neither of the siblings had a definitive explanation for how they’ve achieved the success they have. Dan came closest.

“I think it’s our work ethic,” he said. “Just the way we were brought up by our dad (Dale), it’s always ‘Do everything 100 percent, you don’t stop until you’re done.’ I think that was hard-wired into us as a family, just to keep going, going and going at practice. Maybe people stop, but you keep going and going.”

Oak Hill High School senior Zoe Buteau has won a field hockey championship during her career, as well as an individual wrestling championship. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Levi and Dan first started playing sports in fourth and third grade, respectively. Levi was hooked by football early, and both began pursuing wrestling – not that they needed much encouragement.

“We used to be big into WWE and stuff like that, and my parents asked us if we wanted to wrestle and that’s kind of what we thought it was,” Dan said. “But obviously, once we went to practices and stuff like that we found out that it wasn’t. But we fell in love with it right off the bat.”

Waiting in the wings was Zoe, who was eager to follow in her brothers’ footsteps.

“I always wanted to do the sports that they did, and some of the sports they did my mom would never let me do,” she said. “But one year for wrestling she saw a girl on the mat, so she said that I could do it. … (She) didn’t want me to get hurt, but I was one of the tougher girls because I had to grow up with two older brothers.”

Like her brothers, Zoe had a knack for the sport.

“Zoe would beat a lot of kids, and it’d be even funnier because they’d just start crying halfway through the match and eventually just run off the mat,” Dan said. “From the start, she was good.”

Siblings get competitive – so imagine what it’s like when they’re all athletes. Growing up, it didn’t take much for Levi – a wrestler through middle school – Dan and Zoe to apply what they had practiced on the mat or on the field to end an argument.

“We all antagonized each other,” Zoe said. “When we would do that, we’d get irritated with each other and start pushing each other around, and throwing each other. It would be a little bit of everything.”

“When they were young, they were pretty competitive each other,” Crystal said. “They would all get into it, it didn’t matter if it was the oldest or the youngest. … They would always argue or fight or wrestle, this or that.”

The competitive nature, however, didn’t extend to their own accomplishments. When everyone’s winning, bragging rights don’t last long.

“I never really shoved it in (Dan’s) face,” Levi said, “because I might have gotten a ring and been a big part in the football championship, but he would just turn around and bring one home a couple of months in wrestling.”

Instead, as the siblings grew and their accomplishments mounted up, they grew to support each other. Levi helped Dan along on the football team. Dan passed wrestling advice on to Zoe. When Levi and Dan weren’t busy with football practices or games, they could be found at Oak Hill’s field hockey games, cheering on Zoe.

“We’d just push each other to get better,” Levi said. “If I struggled in one thing and Danny might have been good at it, he would push himself to make me better to do better in that one thing. … We were always challenging each other to be better.”

“If we went to a game or a meet or something we’d always make sure the other was okay,” Zoe said. “Make sure that they try their best no matter what and push through with 100 percent.”

It can be difficult for siblings to find common interests to sustain their bonds. With sports, the Buteaus know they’ll never have to worry.

“When Zoe has wrestling events I’ll come down, and because of that I get to see her more often,” Dan said. “I see (Levi) a lot of times when he either goes to support Zoe or he shows up at my stuff too. It definitely brings us together.”

And if conversations do stall? Hey, they can always add up the rings.

“It’s just unbelievable,” Levi said. “I don’t think many people can say that between their three siblings they’ve accomplished so much in so little time.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM


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