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Carson Bartlett led St. Helens to 2007 track title

Bartlett helped get the team to title, but others made big contributions and now they are going into the Hall of Fame
by: Spotlight Archive Photo, Carson Bartlett won the triple jump at the 5A state tournament with this leap. He was also first in the long jump, second in the high jump, and ran on the third-place 4x100 relay team.

The highlight of the St. Helens' Boosters Hall of Fame banquet on June 23 will be the induction of the 2007 St. Helens High championship track team.

Led by Carson Bartlett, the team gave St. Helens their first state track title. It was also the first for any school in the new 5A classification and for long-time St. Helens Coach Gerry Tinkle.

The squad had some impressive performances from a number of athletes. Nic Barnes clinched the team title with a second-place finish in the 300 intermediate hurdles, the second-to-last event of the day. Kevin Elder had the first points with a fourth-place finish in the 3,000. The 4x100 relay team of Barnes, Bartlett, Ryan Walters, and Cody Jones had a third place in the running events. No athlete in the meet stood out like Bartlett, though.

'I don't want to lessen what the team did,' Tinkle said recently. 'We had points all over the place, but Carson had the most.'

The senior athlete won the long jump (22-feet, 1.75-inches), the triple jump (45-0.25), took second in the high jump (6-6), and was on the third-place 4x100 relay team. Individually, he scored 28 points and received the award for the most individual points in the meet. He was a part of 34 points in the meet that St. Helens won with 53.

le said after the meet, 'Carson is the best track athlete to come out of St. Helens High School. We've had a number of great distance runners and athletes. I mean nothing against Ryan Waite or Nic Barnes or some of the other great athletes, but Carson is the best all-around. He's very fast, very athletic and he can jump. He's the best athlete I've ever had.'

That's high praise from a coach who's been at St. Helens for over 30 years.

'You start coaching and that's what you dream of-to be a state champion at some point in your career. We came close a couple of times, but winning it was a great feeling.'

Tinkle pointed out that the year before the Lions had placed second in the-then-largest classification, 4A. Bartlett along with distance great Ryan Waite, Brian Saxe and Barnes had wrung every point possible out of the meet and came up just short. St. Helens hadn't done that well since the 1992-93 season.

Bartlett said last week that he didn't really feel much until the end of the day. 'It didn't really hit me until later on, but it was still an awesome feeling, standing on the podium with my teammates. I was ecstatic.'

He was all focus as the meet began. 'The coaches had it all planned out. They had me first in two events and second in another. The points were so tight, it made me more nervous than anything.'

Bartlett said that Tinkle's comment about him being the greatest track athlete meant a lot to him. 'It was definitely a good moment-probably right up there with winning state, maybe better. It was a great honor for me.' He also was well aware of the personal tragedy Tinkle had suffered with the loss of a teenage son a few years earlier. 'Tinkle is an awesome guy. I couldn't have asked for someone better to coach a team. I think having the track team might have helped him through it. He was a father figure to a lot of people. You could see the father in him through his coaching.'

Bartlett said that even Tinkle's well-known sarcasm 'is just part of being a dad.'

Tinkle had a lot of faith in Bartlett at the meet and liked Bartlett's competitiveness too, 'I think if someone would have had a better jump at state, he would have found a better one.'

The team was the favorite going into state and Bartlett knew a lot was expected from him. He more than exceeded expectations.

He won the triple jump on the first day of state, and the Lions also got points from Kevin Elder (fourth) and Griff Curtis (eighth) in the 3,000. Bartlett would add eight more the next day with a 6-6 leap in the high jump. He was more than a shade off first. Hillsboro's Billy Butler won that with a 7-0.5 effort. Still, St. Helens had 25 points going into the last day.

Bartlett pumped up the score to 35 with his long jump win and the 4x100 team of Barnes, Bartlett, Walters, and Jones would add six more. Elder scored in the 1,500. The team then had to wait until the last two events of the day. Barnes added eight more in the 300 hurdles and the Lions knew they had the title. They were worn out going into the 4x400 relay, and it was more like an extended four-lap victory cruise. It was an exhausting, but still exhilarating state meet.

Bartlett said one thing that helped him was that the state track meet in 2007 was three days for the first time. His events were spread out over those days.

'It was a big thing. They had changed it from the year before, and I wasn't as tired. That extra time helped me perform better. It definitely would have been tougher over two days,' he said.

Bartlett competed in several sports at St. Helens-soccer, basketball, track, and as the kicker for the football team.

'Now I wished I had played football,' he said. 'Track, though, was something I liked more than any other sport. You can depend on your athleticism. In the long jump you just run down and jump. There's a little more technique to the triple jump and high jump. It allows you to be the best athlete you can.'

Bartlett attended Pacific University and graduated this year. He ran track his first year, and played basketball when he wasn't injured. He tore an ACL his second year and spent over a year recovering. He tore his other knee last year and is just getting over it, although he says the recovery has been faster. Currently, he's working temporarily as a driver for Pacific Coast Fruit. When he is physically able, he wants to test to become a police officer and attend the police academy. He likes all three levels-local, state, and federal-and would like to find a way to work with all.

Bartlett said he still is in contact with some from the team and he is looking forward to the reunion with his former teammates.

Other Hall of Fame Inductees

Tripsi Brown:

A 1987 graduate, she was the pitcher in 1986 that led St. Helens to their first state championship. The team beat Sweet Home in the finals at Irv Lind Stadium in Portland. She was the all-state Pitcher of the Year.

Toshi Brown:

A 1992 graduate and sister to Tripsy, she led the Lady Lions to their 1991 championship. She pitched the team to a 1-0 win over Hood River in one of the closest state championship games ever.

Melody Killens:

A 1978 graduate, she was an athlete from the time she could walk. Killens went to state for gymnastics three years in a row: 1976, 77 and 78. The first year was in the vault and the last two years as an all-around gymnast. Only one other athlete qualified for state. Killens also ran track, volleyball, cross country and was involved with local softball. She has continued to be involved in the community as a school board member, coach, umpire, and player in softball.

Randy Peterson:

St. Helens Mayor Randy Peterson, class of 1974, was a track and cross country runner in high school. He was co-captain in cross country with Ralph Painter when they won district his senior year. They also went 14-0 in track in the Coast Valley League. He tied Durrell Kearsley for most points. Randy had the record in the triple jump of 43-5.5, which lasted six years. After a year of college track, he went to work for the then St. Helens Rural Fire Protection District. He retired as a captain after 28 years of service. He has spent countless hours and made substantial contributions to the St. Helens Sports Boosters.

Stuart Kearsley:

A 1978 graduate, he was a three-sport athlete at St. Helens High-cross country, wrestling, plus some baseball and track. He has stayed in athletics since graduating, earning his teaching credentials and spending 26 years at Aloha High School. He's coached football, girl's golf, and baseball over that span, and had been head wrestling coach for 23 years. He's been on the football staff 26 years, including coaching the 2010 state championship team. His wrestling teams have earned a number of district championships, including 26 state place winners and 33 district or regional champions. He was named Wrestling Coach of the Year just a few years ago.