Oregon state champion sprinter and football star Thomas Tyner loses 100-meter dash to 39-year-old teacher, raises hundreds for charity in the process

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

How in the world does a state champion sprinter lose a 100-meter dash to a 39-year-old teacher? He helps him raise more than $500 for charity, that’s how.

Aloha teacher Scott Baker and Thomas Tyner joke around after their match race — The Oregonian
Aloha teacher Scott Baker and Thomas Tyner joke around after their match race — The Oregonian

As first reported by the Oregonian, state 100-meter champion Thomas Tyner, the same Beaverton (Ore.) Aloha High football star and sprinter who ran for 634 yards and 10 touchdowns in a single game this fall, fell short of winning a race for one of the only times in his prep career on Friday. That the Oregon football recruit lost a race might not be entirely shocking, but who he fell short against is: A nearly 40-year-old government teacher at Aloha High named Scott Baker.

Naturally, there was a reason why Baker was able to best one of the top speedsters in the nation: He had a 45-meter head start. Essentially, the race was a 100-meter dash against a 55-meter dash, and it was still closer than most would expect for a disparity of 45 meters in distance traveled.

Of course, Tyner was giving up that distance willingly, and putting his personal pride on the line to help someone less fortunate in the process. The match race was staged to benefit a charity called Sparrow Clubs, which raises money for children striken with serious medical conditions. In 2013, the school has dedicated itself to raising money for a 2-year-old named Olivia Strohmeyer who was born with a form of cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma.

Wanting to raise money to help fund Olivia’s condition, Baker came up with a plan. He challenged Tyner to a mano-a-mano race with any proceeds raised from the stunt going toward Olivia’s care. Tyner then took his invitation a step further, promising to give Baker a 1-meter head start for every $10 he raised.

In the end, Baker accepted a 45-meter head start, and that proved to be enough for Baker to escape with a rare victory against one of the nation’s top prep athletes … if only just enough.

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"I gotta be honest. I couldn't feel my legs and I kind of pulled my groin at the beginning,” Baker told the Oregonian. “I want to say thank you to Thomas for doing this - I mean, that's the coolest thing ever, to come out and let me raise money and beat him just for Olivia. That's all it's about."

Tyner was quick to agree, he just couldn’t say so vocally as he struggled to catch his breath. After all, he’d just completed nearly catching someone while running almost twice as far.

As it turns out, the race was just a small part of the school’s commitment to Sparrow Clubs in 2012. According to the Oregonian, the school raised more than $16,000 for the cause.

That makes the $505-plus generated by Tyner’s invitational sprint against Baker a small contributor to the overall goal, though it hardly makes it less memorable for the teacher, superstar or his classmates, let alone the 2-year-old whose medical bills just got a bit lighter.

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