BEACON FALLS — Sixty years later, Ron Barksdale still remembers his time on one of the greatest track teams in New Jersey high school history. Now, his teams will not be forgotten.
Barksdale, a Beacon Falls resident, was inducted into the Princeton (N.J.) High School Hall of Fame last month. Barksdale learned of the honor last June.
“I was shocked in a way,” said Barksdale, who moved to Connecticut in 1975. “It’s been a long time. You never expect to see something like this after all these years.”
Any athlete who earned a varsity letter on the track team from 1951-1956 earned entry into the hall, Barksdale said. The hall of fame, which began in 2003, honors athletes through an annual induction ceremony that also raises money for academic scholarships.
Barksdale’s team was a juggernaut. The squad won 55 consecutive dual meets, six straight state championships and 10 consecutive Group III Central Jersey State Championships.
As a member of the team from 1951 to 1953, Barksdale said he competed in numerous events and gave his best performances in the 110-meter high hurdles and 220 low hurdles.
Barksdale’s teams broke eight school records, won the Mercer County Championship and took the Seton Hall Mile Relay in 1951. The next year, the team won another Mercer County title, along with the Long Branch Relays and Newark Invitational, and in 1953 broke the state meet record with 43.5 total points.
The 77-year-old Barksdale made the trip to Hamilton Square, N.J., on Nov. 5 to attend the ceremony. His son, Gregory, and wife, Joan, traveled with him.
Once there, Barksdale said he seemingly stepped back in time. He saw old friends and reminisced with teammates.
“I heard a lot of good stories from 50 years ago,” said Barksdale, who also has three grandchildren and another son, Charles.
While Barksdale admits he wasn’t the best athlete on the team, he put in the time and earned points during the team’s historic run.
“I was always one to go to every practice and I wanted to compete in as many events as possible,” Barksdale said.
When he received a letter in the mail notifying him of the honor, Barksdale made it a point to get to the ceremony.
“I felt pretty proud about it,” Barksdale said, “and I didn’t want to miss it.”