Who is the best athlete in Douglas High School’s history?
That’s a good and highly debatable question explored by the Reno Gazette-Journal last weekend in a story written by Chris Murray (a Douglas graduate and baseball player) — titled “Building Mount Rushmore: A look at Northern Nevada’s all-time best high school athletes by school” — which listed athletes from Northern Nevada’s Division I and I-A schools.
Four Douglas High products were mentioned — Shawn Estes, Todd Wilcks, Luke Rippee and Matt Buyten — who all achieved greatness through their sports.
Estes was an all-state pitcher who earned Gatorade state player of the year honors his senior year when he was taken by the Seattle Mariners as the 11th overall pick of the 1991 draft. The pitcher went on to play professionally until his retirement in 2010, including stints with seven major league clubs — he was 101-93, highlighted by a 19-5 season with the National League West champion San Francisco Giants in 1997. Estes and Tom Newell (Philadelphia Phillies in 1987) are the only two Douglas grads to play in the majors.
Buyten gained fame outside of the Douglas campus in motocross. Buyten’s big stage was the X Games, where he won four gold medals as a Step Up rider, including back-to-back championships in 2010-2011. In 2013, he won silver in Munich and bronze in Los Angeles.
Wilcks, an all-state athlete in three sports who went on to become a four-year starter as an offensive lineman for the University of Nevada (an All-American in 1981. Wilcks is in the school’s Football Hall of Fame (along with his father, Ron, and son, Matt) and Baseball Hall of Fame.
Rippee earned 10 varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball during his four years. He was region Player of the Year as a senior and later played at Nevada as a walk-on.
A fifth athlete mentioned — “Toughest Omission” — was Jeff Nady, a football and basketball standout at Douglas who became an all-league offensive tackle for the Nevada Wolf Pack (he played for the 2010 team that went 13-1).
My hat’s off to all five of these athletes. Again, there are many others who deserve to be included in any conversation about the best of the Tigers, so to throw my two cents in, here are a dozen other names who should be considered:
■ Jessica Waggoner, three-sport athlete who earned four basketball letters and was named first-team all-league three times (her 1,524 career points are believed to be the most by any female player in school history). The 6-foot-1 Waggoner was all-league in volleyball and a state champion discus thrower whose best throw of 153-feet, 9 inches in 2009 ranked among the top 15 high school throwers in the U.S. She is now a senior and school discus record holder at Army.
■ Terry Olson is among the best all-around Douglas athletes. Olson competed in football, basketball and baseball (and as a track sprinter after elbow surgery his senior year in 1974). As an outfielder, he was good enough to sign with the Texas Rangers organization after graduation and played one season of rookie league ball, unfortunately, he never recovered from an arm injury that ended his career.
■ Dena Pitts was all-league in three sports (volleyball, basketball, softball) and two-time state softball pitcher of the year who helped Douglas win back-to-back 3A state championships in 1991-92. As a senior, she was 17-1 (0.57 ERA). Pitts was also a zone volleyball tournament MVP and finished her basketball career as the school’s No. 2 all-time scorer.
■ Nick Maestretti was an all-state athlete in football and basketball and two-time state champion in the pole vault. He joined an elite club of Nevada prep vaulters to clear the 16-foot barrier as a senior in 2012. Maestretti now competes as a vaulter for Kansas University.
■ Andrea Honer was a four-year basketball point guard and state Player of the Year as a senior in 2002 (10.2 points, 9.8 assists, 8.2 rebounds per game). She also played three varsity volleyball seasons. The 5-foot-9 Honer later played at TCU and Point Loma University.
■ Gary Price, along with Eric Reuter, gave Douglas 6-foot-6 post players for Douglas in its 1978-79 AA state championship season (29-4). Price went on to play four seasons as a starter at Navy.
■ Mike Sheets was a three-sport standout who as a senior in 1986 completed a 43-0 state championship season at 158 pounds. Sheets later wrestled for Notre Dame.
■ Michele Trimble was a school record-setting cross country and track runner — state champion in the 800 and 1,600 as a senior in 1985 — and 9-time All-American at Occidental (NCAA Division III champion in the 3,000 in 1989).
■ Chris Griffith guided Douglas football to a 22-6 record as a starting quarterback, defensive back and kicker/punter. He was an all-state kicker and quarterback as a senior in 1997. He played at UCLA and became one of the Bruins’ all-time best placekickers.
■ Gary Powers was a multi-sport athlete who played baseball at Nevada and served as head coach of the Wolf Pack baseball program for 31 seasons before his retirement in May. Powers finished his career with a 937-762-5 record.
■ Bryan Miller was an all-league pitcher and center fielder for Douglas in 2003-04 who went on to become a two-time NJCAA All-American at Mesa College in Arizona and a first-team All-American at Troy University.
■ Jerry Gray was a four-year starter in basketball — his 1,324 career points and 1,305 rebounds set school records at the time — and state AA co-Player of the Year in 71. At 6-5, 210 pounds, he was also a force at running back in football.
All of this merely scratches the surface of the many great athletes and obviously I have missed many others. There simply isn’t enough time or space to go around, but it sure does make for fun conversation.
Dave Price is sports editor for The Record-Courier