Tornado track great Steele part of 11th induction class
By Mike Kilroy
Eagle Staff Writer
PITTSBURGH — On the track at Butler High School in the late 1990s, there was little Annessa (Schnur) Steele couldn’t do.
Name an event on the track or in the field, she competed in it.
Her name is omnipresent on the list of top times and distances on the Butler High rolls as well as on the Butler County All-time Honor Roll list.
Butler also enjoyed a great deal of success during her four years, going 57-0 and winning four WPIAL team titles.
Yet Steele was as surprised as anyone when she found out she was part of the 11th WPIAL Hall of Fame class, which was announced this morning at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center.
She is one of 12 inductees that includes Jeannette graduate and Washington Redskins wide receiver Terrelle Pryor.
“Especially the 11th class,” Steele said. “I’m humbled.”
Steele humbled many a competitor while running, jumping, throwing and, yes, even pole vaulting, for Butler from 1997-2000.
She still holds Butler track and field records in the 400 (55.90 seconds) and in the long jump (18 feet, 4 inches).
She also appears in the top 10 on the Butler County all-time honor roll in 13 events and tops two of them (the 400 and as a member of the Butler 3,200 meter relay).
“I knew (former Butler girls track and field coach) Mike Seybert and athletic director Bill Mylan nominated me a few years ago,” Steele said. “I didn’t think I’d get in so soon, if at all, especially as a 34-year-old.”
Steele won seven medals at the PIAA Track and Field Championships and 10 WPIAL individual titles in five events.
She competed in the state meet in four events all four years of her high school career.
Steele parlayed that success into a track and field scholarship at the University of Michigan. While there, she and the Wolverines won five Big Ten indoor and outdoor titles (one as a redshirt).
One of the reasons why Steele chose Michigan was because of the emphasis on team.
“At Butler, it was very much a team effort,” Steele said. “Team was more important and I’m so proud that we never lost a meet. The fun of the sport was not just competing, but the team aspect of it.”
Steele also enjoyed the pressure that came with her versatility.
Her best event was the 400. She held the WPIAL record in that event for nine years after shattering the mark in 1998.
But the event she enjoyed the most was the 1,600-meter relay.
“I loved the pressure,” Steele said. “It was the last event on the track and I usually ran the anchor leg and some of our meets came down to who won that last event.”
Steele also won two WPIAL team titles at Butler as the girls track and field coach.
Steele is an 11th grade English teacher at Butler and lives in Slippery Rock with her husband, Jeff. They have two children, Tenley, 3, and Isaac, 5.
The WPIAL Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held May 26 in Green Tree.
“I just loved the sport,” Steele said. “I loved competing.”