Hagerstown recently became the first program not named Centerville or Winchester to win the boys all-sports trophy in the Tri-Eastern Conference since the turn of the century.
It was no accident and surprised no one.
The Tigers were TEC champs in football in the fall, boys basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring. Overall, they were 20-1 in TEC games in those three sports.
He would never take enough credit for any of the success, but Cole Bartlett had a key role in each one.
Quarterback was just one of his many duties with the football team that went undefeated in the regular season. He was an all-around hustle player, key defender and strong scoring threat on the Hagerstown boys basketball team that had its best start in school history, went 21-3 and won TEC and Wayne County championships.
And then there’s baseball.
Bartlett was the face of a 24-4 TEC, Wayne County — and sectional — championship baseball team.
His NCAA Division I opportunity is no accident, either. Bartlett worked his way to the University of Missouri, and if his past success is any indication, his career is just getting started.
Bartlett is the Palladium-Item’s 2013 Myyon A. Barnes Athlete of the Year.
“It’s an extremely nice accomplishment to win all those,” Bartlett said of the team titles. ” … It’s really nice for athletes that were in all three of those sports to be a part of that. It’s kind of nice to be in the situation where we can do that.”
Bartlett worked hard to earn his spikes — or sneakers — in each of his sports.
That includes baseball.
“I started looking at him as a freshman, I was JV coach at the time,” current Hagerstown varsity baseball coach Brad Catey recalled. “He played one JV game, went 4-for-4, struck out seven — I knew by then, ‘This kid’s not a JV player.’
” … He went up to varsity and did the same thing.”
That started a career that now has Bartlett atop the school’s record books in many categories.
Bartlett was all-TEC honorable mention as a freshman and was first team every year since, earning Player of the Year honors the past two.
Very deserving, too.
His senior numbers were outstanding, but his junior year totals were just as impressive.
Bartlett finished the 2012 season 8-3 from the mound with a 2.17 ERA and a school-record 99 strikeouts, while leading the Tigers with a .475 average, 35 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 10 doubles and six home runs.
Hagerstown went 6-1 in the TEC to win the title outright that year, repeated as Wayne County champion, but fell in the sectional semifinal.
That started a trend that haunted Bartlett and teammates into football and basketball, but finally ended during his senior year of baseball.
Despite winning TEC titles in football and basketball, the Tigers lost the football sectional opener and fell in the basketball sectional title game.
They were in danger of another early exit in baseball as they fell behind 8-0 to Northeastern in the second inning of the sectional semifinal.
“By now the kids had really bought into the team-first mentality and ‘refuse to lose,'” Catey said. “We were down, and Cole came up to me and said, ‘Give me the ball.’ I put the trust in him and he performed.”
Bartlett tossed 52⁄3 innings in the 10-8 semifinal win, then added four frames in the 7-2 championship victory over Union County, while also blasting a three-run home run.
Bartlett went 10-2, with a 1.57 ERA and a school-record 120 strikeouts as a senior.
He is also Hagerstown’s record holder in season (752⁄3) and career (238) innings pitched, career strikeouts (347) and record (28-10).
“Strikes at the knee, that was pretty much it,” Bartlett said was his key, while adding that he relied on his cutter, fastball and splitter, using a curveball and change-up sparingly.
He hit .468 with 14 stolen bases, 44 hits, four home runs, seven doubles and a triple, while driving in 27 runs and scoring 36.
Offensively, Bartlett tops Hagerstown in career runs (119), hits (142), RBIs (98) and average (.440).
He is second in doubles (26) and at-bats (325) and third in home runs (15) and stolen bases (54).
“He did the things he’s supposed to do in all areas,” Hagerstown athletic director Gerry Keesling said. “I think its starts there. I think he is a very strong competitor that never puts himself above the team.”
Catey often said he didn’t know how many sports Bartlett would play in college, but he knew baseball would be one of them.
Football was also a possibility.
He started out as a role player for Hagerstown’s football team while waiting for his turn behind Alex Houck.
The Tigers went 10-1 that 2010 season and won a sectional title under coach John Fallis, before Scott Snodgrass took over in 2011. Bartlett played some quarterback behind Houck.
“Having that really helped a lot, and then coach Snodgrass coming in, he kind of put full confidence in me. It wasn’t that big a transition, but then again it was,” Bartlett said.
Snodgrass’s first year was as close to a transition year as a program with the strong tradition of 10 sectional titles gets.
The Tigers went 5-5, but two of the losses were by less than a touchdown.
Bartlett’s competitive nature kicked in.
“After junior year, I think we kind of realized we were going to have to rely on hard work,” Bartlett said. “That’s what everybody did and every single day we came and we worked our butts off. We were closer than ever. Having some people hurt in the sectional, it did hurt us a lot, but I mean we just came in every day and worked.”
That hard work showed off nicely as he threw for 1,547 yards and 16 touchdowns; rushed for 1,083 yards and 17 scores; kicked 40 of 45 PATs and intercepted two passes on defense.
After throwing 13 interceptions as a junior, he was picked off just twice his senior year.
The Tigers went 9-0 in the regular season before falling in the sectional opener.
“I think Cole’s biggest asset is — a lot of kids have the talent — he did everything he needed to to maximize that talent,” Snodgrass said. “He put in all the time in the off-season. He did camps. He did everything he had to do to be successful.
” … As far as the team chemistry and leadership for our team, he’s phenomenal, first guy on the field, last one to go home. … It made my job easier. Guys like him are like another coach. By the time he was a senior, we got in pretty much the same mindset. He knew exactly what I wanted.”
Bartlett’s role on the Hagerstown boys basketball team was not as elite as quarterback or No. 1 pitcher, but nonetheless, he did what was needed of him, and gave 110 percent.
He earned four varsity letters in the sport, was a three-time winner of Hagerstown’s defense award and two-time all-TEC selection.
As a junior, he helped the Tigers to their first winning season in nearly a decade, before the Tigers took off his senior season.
The Tigers started the season with 14 straight wins, won their first TEC title since 1996-97, ended an eight-year Centerville reign by winning a Wayne County title and finished 21-3, the best winning percentage in school history and second most wins in a season.
Bartlett averaged 9 points a game and had a game-high of 22.
He had 91 rebounds, 52 assists and a team-high 32 steals, plus 55 deflections.
“Coach (Bobby) Jones, he came from Winchester and they had won a lot,” Bartlett said. “When he came to Hagerstown, I think finally people started buying into that. We listened to coach and that’s what really did it for us.”
Bartlett is currently undecided about his major, but Keesling predicts that whatever path Bartlett takes, he will see success.
“Above and beyond his athletic abilities he’s a phenomenal young man,” Keesling said. “He’s everything you want to have in an athlete on and off the court.”