Roosevelt High School has just completed its most successful sports season in decade and for girls, perhaps the most stellar accomplishments since the emergence of girls high school varsity sports in the early 1970s. The RHS tennis and golf teams were hindered by rainy weather curtailing matches and meets. The number of sports participants also rose to 734 students this year.
While RHS’s baseball, softball and track & field have enjoyed banner years at the city and state level, and one athlete is earning national attention.
Will Heslam, a slender and sinewy senior, captured the 800 and 1500 meter crowns at the state championships at Hayward Field in Eugene on May 27. Heslam broke the 1500-meter state meet record set in 2004 by Central Catholic’s Galen Rupp, a future University of Oregon legend and medalist in the 2012 London and 2016 Rio de Janerio Olympics.
Heslam said that after running the 1500 earlier on May 27, he knew he’d face a challenge in the late afternoon 800-meter race against rivals with hadn’t run other races that day and were better rested. “I could tell with 500 meters to go (in the 800-meter) that my legs were a little dead from my having run the 1500 meters earlier that day,” Heslam told DyeStat.com., and when he was trailing with 200 meters to go, “I knew had to go then—and I put the burners on to win the race.”
The RHS athlete earned national attention after running a sizzling 1:49.7 800 meter at the Oregon Relays at Hayward Field last month, the No. 4 best prep 800-meter time in the country this year. An invitation followed to the U.S. Track & Field Association’s Under-age 20 national championships at Hayward Field this summer.
The soft-spoken, honors student began his Roosevelt career as a very good three-sport athlete in soccer, basketball and track, and after his sophomore year focused on distance running. A demanding 40 mile-a-weekly training regimen dashing through Pier Park forests and North Portland has propelled his success.
Haslem cites Statistics, English as his top RHS classes and a favorite book is the “The Perfect Mile,” on the men who first broke the four-mile barrier including Oxford University medical student Dr. Roger Bannister in 1954. He considered track scholarship offers from national track powers Georgetown, the University of Portland and Arizona, before signing with the University of Oregon.
The invitation to the national U-20 Championships suggests potential to excel at the college level and perhaps beyond that. “I’d welcome the opportunity to compete at a higher level after college,” Heslam wisely says, “but I’m not putting my cards on it.”
The PIL is one of the top track leagues in the state and the Rider girls and boys took third and fourth places. Roosevelt qualified several athletes for the u state meet including girls, freshman Aster Jones and Ellie Heslam (Will’s sister.)
Other Riders winning places at the state championships included Havana Alonzo earning 2nd place in the girls Javelin and Nywaun Campbell winning 4th place in the boys shot put. Dylan Ford also qualified in the boy’s pole vault.