It's easy to believe that Carsten Gilje is the fourth-best in Class 5A singles tennis.
The Northwest Oregon Conference champion and Lions senior exchange student from Stabekk, Norway, found himself on the short end of a 6-1, 6-1 quarterfinals contest to Crescent Valley (Corvallis) sophomore Peter Cerdans of Spain on Friday, May 19, at the Portland Tennis Center after besting Hood River Valley junior Sawyer Bogard 6-3, 6-0 in the first round on Thursday.
"It was nice to see my opponents and match skills with them," said Gilje, who praised the state facilities.
As fate would have it, Cerdans beat Sandy senior Dante DeSimone -- the very Pioneer Gilje beat 4-6, 6-2, 1-3 as DeSimone withdrew from the contest for the conference title on Wednesday, May 10, at Parkrose High School in Portland -- 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (2) for third.
Gilje is the first St. Helens boy to reach individual state since Cole Charbonneau's quarterfinal run in search of the Lions boys' first team or individual win lifted the Lions boys to to a tie for seventh in 2012.
"Someone like [Gilje] you want all four years," said St. Helens coach Dave Geiger, who has what he calls great conversations about culture and society with his international players, including junior Darawan Maungmeesab and sophomore Wasinee Maungmeesab, who moved to the area from Thailand and played girls' doubles this year. "They're all mature students: As people, they engage, they're outgoing, they all have drive, they're all competitive and they don't like losing. We need kids in the junior programs to look up and see those results. You look at college and it's full of Europeans."
Gilje played youth tennis in Stabekk, a suburb with an estimated population of 7,629 people according to citypopulation.de, and connects to Oslo, the capital, through a subway system, until he took it easy with a shoulder injury at 14 years old.
He will study through his official senior year back home and look into studying economics and business management.
Ahmed Shinwari, a junior from Pakistan, and Vladik Cubria-Moran, a Spanish sophomore known for his fondness for food and candy, joined Gilje in their 11-month stay via the nonprofit AFS-USA, formerly the American Field Service, in the fall of 2016, and all three are scheduled to return home on June 22.
"I can speak for all that we have all enjoyed school sports," said Gilje, who got to join the Lions boys' soccer team as he helped them to four decisions of a goal or fewer as a defender in the fall.
Top-seeded Summit (Bend) senior Carter Quigley beat Ashland junior Rox Rogers 6-1, 6-1 for his first championship on Saturday at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center in Beaverton.
Summit, with 24.5 points, also beat Crescent Valley (12.5) and Ashland (11) for its fourth team title in a row and its sixth in nine years, and Gilje's effort lifted St. Helens' boys to a two-point, sixth-place tie with Churchill, Marist Catholic, Redmond, Ridgeview and Silverton behind fourth-place Sandy (4.5) and fifth-place Wilsonville (4).
Seniors Jacob Olson and Lexi Davis are scheduled to graduate in June.
"We almost had everyone playing in the second day of the [conference] tourney," Geiger said. "That never happens."
CORRECTION: The May 19 article entitled, 'Carsten Gilje heads to Class 5A boys state singles' misidentified the St. Helens High School senior as the Northwest Oregon Conference tennis boys' singles runner-up to Sandy senior Dante DeSimone, when in fact Gilje won the title match 4-6, 6-2, 1-3 as DeSimone withdrew from the contest with injury.