Carlin is FHSU Hall of Famer

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

FHSU Photo
Roger Carlin of Iola (above) holds a Fort Hays State University Tiger Sports Hall of Fame certificate. He and the rest of the FHSU 1968 men’s cross team that won the NAIA National Championship were inducted into the hall of fame last weekend. Below, Carlin (second from left in back row) was a sophomore runner on that 1968 team. Members attending the induction were recognized at halftime of the Fort Hays and Nebraska-Omaha football game.

Bittersweet for Roger Carlin are the memories of running on the 1968 NAIA National Championship cross country team from Fort Hayes State University.
But last weekend was “wonderful” for Carlin and his family as he and other members of that championship team were inducted into the Tiger Sports Hall of Fame.
“What a surprise for us as a team. We had about 10 of the 14 runners there last weekend and it was great to see those guys again,” said Carlin, who has been a teacher at Iola Middle School for nine years.
“It was a wonderful weekend. Cross country is not one of the marquee sports so you really don’t think about halls of fame. But Fort Hays won four NAIA national championships in the 1960s under coach Alex Francis.
“Running with those guys and accomplishing what we did as a team are memories that follow me always. It was a great time for me.”
The bittersweet part is that fact as a sophomore Carlin wasn’t himself.
Carlin had a tremendous freshman season at FHSU — an All-Central Intercollegiate Conference runner, fourth in the conference race and No. 2 runner on the Tiger cross country team, 12th in the 10,000-meter race, a member of the 4x800-meter relay team that took second in the national indoor meet.
Carlin said he became ill, experiencing low white blood cell count, and no one had an answer. He still trained and ran for the Tigers through the illness.
Carlin said even though he wasn’t running up to what his freshman year was like, he was the No. 5 runner on the 1968 team.
“My times were slower but I was able to contribute to the championship. We beat Emporia State by just four points at the national meet.
“Winning a national title at any level, or a state title, is great. There’s no way of describing it,” he said.
“That was my last race. I couldn’t stay healthy after that. It was a terrible feeling not knowing why and having no way of treating whatever it was.”
Carlin said it came down to the fact he had trained too hard and the only treatment was rest. “You can’t run and rest at the same time so my running career was over. But what a great day to finish on.”
Also inducted into the Tiger Hall of Fame was the 1969 cross country team which won the NAIA national championship. Carlin left Fort Hays then and went into the Navy. After that he finished his college education at Kansas State University in Manhattan.
Carlin grew up in Bucklin and began his running career as a junior at Bucklin High School. He led the BHS cross country team to a state championship as a senior in 1966.
Carlin was a part of three state track records as a senior — the individual mile in Class BB both indoor and outdoor state meets and he anchored the outdoor state meet medley relay team, running a 1:56 880-yard leg.
He was recruited by Kansas, Kansas State, Wic-hita State, Emporia State, Adams State in Colorado and Southern University in Louisiana.
“I went to Hays mainly because of Coach Francis,” Carlin said. “He was an incredible coach who really brought the most out of a bunch of western Kansas kids.”
He remembers running against Jim Ryan at the KU indoor track meet as a FHSU freshman and running a 4:11 mile.
“I was the only runner in a field of eight without an Olympic uniform on. They all beat me but to run against my idol was tremendous,” Carlin said. “Then I set a division record in the three-mile run at an Emporia meet. When I was done a man came up to me and said ‘nice race, Roger’ and I looked up and it was Jim Ryan.”
Carlin said winning the national championship was awesome and to beat Fort Hays’ conference rival Emporia State was “great.”
Carlin went on to teach and coach at Pawnee Heights High School in Rozel. He said he started cross country at Pawnee Heights.
He and his wife, Terri, “chose to come to Iola” after Pawnee Heights. “We love it here.”
Carlin has coached eighth-grade girls’ volleyball and basketball, golf and track at IMS. The Carlins have two daughters, Madison, 9, and Haley, 7.