I know we are bearing down on the really big track and field events at Hayward Field — Pre followed by NCAAs.
But I wanted to take a moment to recognize the Roosevelt High 4×100 relay team, which won the first of two sections and finished in eighth place and scored a point at the OSAA Class 5A meet on Saturday.
Because when Anthony Sylvester, James Schell-Buchanan, Damilia Spires and Billy Nelson got their medals on the award stand, they looked like they didn’t know what to do. Face this way for those cameras. Then turn around? Where are we supposed to stand?
The rest of the teams bunched tightly on their squares of plywood. The Roughriders, well, you can sort of forgive a school that’s never been in this situation before.
That’s right. The last time a Roosevelt relay team placed at the state track meet was 54 years ago. It was a 4×220, which is an event that was scrapped long ago.
Fortunately, all four guys on Roosevelt’s 4×100 are eligible to come back next year. And the expectation is that Roosevelt is going to continue to make noise at the state championships.
Many of you know that Roosevelt — that old public school in North Portland that was nearly closed a few years back — got a major facility upgrade thanks to a committed effort by Michael Bergmann, Rich Recker and an army of other alums, volunteers and donors. The football field has been in place for a couple of seasons already and the track facility was used for the first time this spring.
It’s the best track in the city.
But Roosevelt doesn’t have the best track program. Never has, really.
I did the research today and here’s what I found:
On Saturday, the Roosevelt boys scored their first point at the state championship meet since Khino Brackeen was eighth in the high jump in 2006.
Before that, the last time Roosevelt scored was 1986 when Curtis Wilson scored two points in the 400 meters.
Roosevelt scored at seven state meets in the previous 26 years before that — four times in the javelin, twice in the long jump and once in the 880.
Back in 1959, Roosevelt placed fourth in the team standings with 26 points. And some of those points came in a relay.
Of course, the guys on the award stand didn’t know that. They wanted to do a little better than eighth.
But this also could be the start of something positive for a school that has for too long been neglected.
“(The new track) is getting more people out to run,” Spires said. “Last year we didn’t have too many people because the track wasn’t so good to run on. So this year we made improvement and made it to state.”
And these guys will remember what it was like on the podium. They will recruit more of their friends to come out for the team. The Riders will be back.
“People will see that we’re making more improvement for the school and actually care,” Spires said. “I think it could make parents change their minds about where to send their child to school.”
In other words, the Roosevelt neighborhood will retain its kids. At least, that’s the hope.