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High School Sports

Seasons in the sun: Prep athletes who have left indelible marks

Seattle Times staff reporter

An inauspicious start, an awe-inspiring finish.

Floyd Bannister basked in a magical season as a senior at Burien's Kennedy High School in 1973. His 15-0 record was impressive. His 0.00 earned-run average was implausible.

Both seemed unthinkable as Bannister sweated through his first start of the year at Renton. The Indians loaded the bases with nobody out, but Bannister somehow wiggled out of trouble in what was a prelude of things to come.

"To go on and not give up an earned run the rest of the year, it was pretty amazing," said Bannister, who went on to enjoy a 15-year career with five major-league teams, including the Seattle Mariners. "It was pretty much a Cinderella year."

As high-school athletes across Washington compete for state championships in nine sports this weekend, Bannister's landmark season hasn't lost its luster. Thirty years later, it remains one of this state's enduring prep achievements.

Bannister capped his prep career by pitching a no-hitter in a 5-0 victory over Shadle Park in the semifinals of the inaugural Class AAA (now 4A) state tournament. He then played first base as the Lancers beat Clover Park 2-1 in the title game as Kennedy completed a 28-1 season.

"There were a lot of good memories," Bannister said.

There were many more to come. Bannister attended Arizona State, where he was named college player of the year by The Sporting News as a junior. He was the No. 1 player taken in the 1976 draft, going to Houston.

Bannister, now 47, lists among his most memorable moments in the majors being selected to the 1982 All-Star Game as a Mariner, leading the American League with 209 strikeouts that season and being on the 1983 Chicago White Sox team that made it to the AL Championship Series.

The way his baseball career at Kennedy started was anything but memorable, however. Bannister was cut by the freshman coach.

"That was motivation for me," Bannister recalls. "It made me work hard in the summer."

As a sophomore, he caught the eye of JFK coach Joe Faccone.

"He was a real small kid," Faccone said, "but I was fascinated by his ability to throw strikes."

Bannister made the varsity and went 6-2 with a 2.42 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 44 innings. As a junior, he was 7-3 with a 0.80 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 67-2/3 innings.

Then came that remarkable senior season. Of Bannister's 15 wins, 13 were by shutout, and he struck out 196 batters in 112 innings. He gave up just two runs, both unearned.

Thirty years later, Bannister's hairline has receded a bit, but the memories haven't faded. He has been able to relive some of those moments with his three sons, Brian, Brett and Cory. All are pitcher-infielders — Brian and Brett at USC, Cory a freshman at Chaparral High School in suburban Phoenix. The Bannister boys — all of whom are right-handers even though their father was a lefty — helped lead Chaparral to two state titles. Floyd makes his home in Scottsdale with his wife, Jana. "It's exciting to see them play," said Floyd, who was here last weekend to watch USC play Washington.

Devotion to family spurred his retirement in 1992. After undergoing shoulder surgery in 1989, he had brief stints with the Angels and Rangers before letting go.

"I knew I could still play," said Bannister, now a private pitching instructor. "I knew I could have a role, but I was ready to step down. I made the sacrifice for my family."

Before he left, Floyd Bannister left his mark. And the one at Kennedy High School may last forever.

Mount Tahoma, track and field

More than a quarter-century has passed and no Washington high-school athlete has come close to duplicating what Vince Goldsmith did during the spring of 1977.

Then a senior at Mount Tahoma in Tacoma, Goldsmith twice put the shot 69 feet, 11 inches. The mark stands as an all-time Washington best that hasn't been seriously challenged. Lynnwood's Ben Lindsey, the best thrower in recent years, fell more than three feet short in 1996.

"Wow," said Goldsmith when reached by telephone in his office at the Pierce County Jail, where he works as health services manager. "I personally would have thought by now someone would have broken it."

Goldsmith, who was just 5 feet 11, 210 pounds as a senior, never officially hit 70 feet. But he said he is certain he made that mark at the 1977 Highline Invitational, where he was credited with 69-11 for the first time. No one bothered to water the sand past about 65 feet. The softer landing area resulted in a larger crater, which cost him a few inches (measurements stop at the crater's front edge).

Goldsmith played football and put the shot at Oregon. He earned all-conference honors as a defensive tackle in 1979 and '80 and went on to play 10 years in the Canadian Football League.

Today, Goldsmith, 43, lives in Federal Way with his wife Diesta and their children, Jaelin, 6, and Victoria, 3.

Deanna Coleman

Issaquah, track and field

The injuries persisted until they became constant companions, leaving her little choice but to give up on one of her greatest passions.

"Actually," she says, laughing during a recent telephone interview, "I'm still plagued with injuries. I can't run. I can't swim. Pretty sad, I know."

In her short-lived prime, Coleman (now Deanna Riechel) was Washington's premier girl miler. In 1978, as a sophomore at Issaquah High, she won the state championship in 4 minutes, 42.5 seconds (4:40.9 when converted to today's shorter 1,600 meters).

The mark remains an all-time Washington best. Coleman also holds the state's all-time mark in the 800 meters (2:04.7), which she set as a junior in Nashville, Tenn.

Plagued by shin splints and stress fractures, Coleman spent much of the rest of her career training in the swimming pool. And after an injury-filled year at Washington — where she earned an athletic scholarship — she gave up the sport.

Today, Riechel, 41, lives in Snohomish with her husband Jeff, who teaches chemistry at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, and her sons, Garren, 11, and Lance, 10. She teaches part-time in the Lake Stevens School District and hopes to return to coaching, which she did briefly after graduating college in 1985.

"I just loved running," Riechel said, recalling the predawn runs she used to make up Squak Mountain. "When I was healthy, it was wonderful."

Chris Henderson

Cascade, boys soccer

He has earned 79 caps for the U.S. national team, two stints playing overseas, an NCAA championship at UCLA and a Major League Soccer Cup championship with Kansas City.

"We were playing Thomas Jefferson in the state finals my junior year," says Henderson, who graduated from Cascade of Everett in 1989. "It went to penalty kicks. Mine hit the post, and we lost.

"Of all the games I've played, that was the hardest loss."

Cascade reached the semifinals during each of Henderson's four years, losing in the semifinals his freshman season, with championships his sophomore and senior years sandwiched around his toughest loss.

Henderson, a midfielder for the MLS's Colorado Rapids, recalls those days fondly. His brother, Sean, also played on a Cascade team stocked with seven future Division I players. His father, Dick, coached Chris two seasons.

Chris Henderson didn't wait long to make his mark, winning Gatorade National Player of the Year his senior season and playing on the U.S. World Cup team a year later in 1990 as its youngest member.

Currently in his seventh MLS season, the 33-year-old runs speed camps in the summer and spends time with his wife Dee, son Aidan, 5, and daughter Annelise, 3.

Most of his family remains in Snohomish County, and he said he'd jump at the opportunity to play for an MLS team in Seattle, should that ever become a possibility.

"Now that," Henderson says, "would be awesome. Finishing it up where it all started."

Trish Bostrom

Chief Sealth, girls tennis

She spent her life changing the world one swing at a time.

You can't play, they told her at West Seattle's Chief Sealth High School, years before anyone heard of Title IX. So Patricia "Trish" Bostrom dominated local tennis courts and the Pacific Northwest circuit before graduating in 1969.

You can play, they told her at the University of Washington, but you have to go into the community to raise money for the women's tennis program. So she threatened to sue and won the Pac-8 singles title anyway, something no man or woman from the university has done since.

Instrumental in the creation and funding of the women's program at UW, Bostrom received induction into the Husky Hall of Fame in 1987, served as the first woman president of the Big W Club, and chaired the alumni board for two years.

"At the induction ceremony, the university sort of apologized for everything I went through," Bostrom says. "That was very meaningful to me and all other women athletes who, during that time, were struggling to excel."

These days, she runs Bostrom Law Offices in Seattle and donates tennis clinics to art auctions while working with some of the area's top juniors.

Bostrom usually plays two or three times a week, though she is sidelined by a wrist injury. And she returns to Wimbledon every season, including this one, providing updates for local radio stations.

"It's like a huge high-school reunion," she says. "Except it's international."

Tom Gorman

Seattle Prep, boys tennis

Growing up in Seattle, Tom Gorman always knew he would end up a New York Yankee. All these years — and a decorated professional tennis career later — he finally made it. Sort of.

"I always had a secret desire to be a Yankee," he says. "This is as close as I'm going to get."

The network might even run a series of Tom Gorman tennis tips leading up to this year's U.S. Open, something for which the former Davis Cup captain is certainly qualified.

Too small for basketball and not quite Yankees material in baseball, Gorman decided at Seattle Prep he'd "try this tennis thing." He won state singles titles in 1962, 1963 and 1964, losing only one match in his entire prep career.

He graduated from Seattle University then hit the pro tour in 1968 for the next 12 years, rising to a No. 1 doubles ranking and winning four career singles titles. He was captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team from 1986 to '93, and guided it to more wins (18) than any other captain.

After his playing career ended, Gorman worked as the tennis director of the Ritz-Carlton resorts and opened a tennis academy in Atlanta, where Gorman settled. Now 57, he still plays two or three times a week and competes on the senior circuit.

"Sometimes I'll think back to those great days at Seattle Prep," he says. "We took pride in winning to the point where it was almost expected. I still remember every title. And every single one of them was awesome."

Becky Newbry

Capital, fastpitch softball

Passion and perfection.

Newbry led Capital to back-to-back Class AA (now 3A) softball titles in 1994 and '95, then became the consummate utility player at Washington, playing every position except pitcher as the Huskies made four consecutive top-three finishes at the Women's College World Series. She became a three-time All-American, earning first-team honors as a senior.

Not bad for someone who originally had her heart set on playing volleyball for the Huskies.

"I bleed purple and gold," said Newbry, who planned to walk on at the UW for volleyball but also checked out the softball program. "When I met the team, I absolutely fell in love. It was like a sorority. They were like sisters."

Newbry, who graduated from Washington in 1999, left her mark on more than the UW record book.

"Becky ranks as one of the all-time greats as far as someone who has a passion and love for the game," said Washington coach Teresa Wilson. "Some people get to this level and see it as a job. For Becky, it was never a job. It was always play, not work."

Today, Newbry makes a living helping others who share that passion. She is a private instructor in California with a company called JustSoftball, which Wilson says is the perfect job for her.

"Becky is a kid-magnet," Wilson said.

Newbry, who turns 26 next week, is engaged to Jeff Turi.

Jimin Kang

King's, girls golf

Secretariat's 31-length victory in the 1973 Belmont is considered one of the most dominating sports performances of all time.

There were no parimutuel betting tickets at the 1999 Class 1A golf championships at Liberty Lake Golf Course near Spokane, but the same Secretariat-like dominance was flashed by Jimin Kang of King's High School in Shoreline. She won the 36-hole tournament by 21 strokes to lead King's to an easy team title. That summer, she won the Washington Women's Amateur and was second in the U.S. Women's Amateur.

Then she turned pro. She played in two Futures Tour events last summer, winning one and finishing second in the other. But this year has been bumpy and the problems started with a bad final round last fall at the misnamed Qualifying School for LPGA Tour cards.

After shooting 67-74-71, she shot a final-day 76 for a 288 total and missed qualifying for exempt Tour status by one stroke. She has played in only one LPGA event this year and tied for 43rd, winning $3,054. In three Futures Tour events, she made only one cut, and tied for seventh.

Unless her fortunes change soon, the 23-year-old appears headed back to this fall's Qualifying School.

"She's getting a little frustrated," said Dan Smith, the Lynnwood pro who has helped her since she arrived in the U.S.

Things were smoother in her high-school days. Smith said Kang initially wasn't going to play high-school golf but took his advice to try out. He reminded her that college golf was a team sport and also pointed out that it was a chance for her to make friends at school.

Those friends are now hoping her luck starts to change.

Kirk Triplett

Pullman, boys golf

PGA Tour pro Kirk Triplett has played in hundreds of golf tournaments — including his victory in the 2000 Nissan Open — but he says some of the "most exciting" were the state championships when he was at Pullman High School.

Triplett and the Pullman team never won (he was third one year), but they were in competitive battles with Eastmont (1978 winner) and Burlington-Edison (1979 champion).

As youngsters, Kirk and brother Bryan would be dropped off at the campus course by their father, Perry, who worked in the WSU business office.

They often spent the day at the course, competing in chipping and putting contests for pennies with other kids. Triplett, now 42, hasn't forgotten his roots and has contributed to the Pullman Junior Golf Club.

A 4.0 student at Pullman High School, he studied engineering and played golf at the University of Nevada.

He gets high grades on the Tour for ethics. On the final day of 2001 NEC Invitational in Akron, Ohio, Triplett self-reported that he had picked up his ball to make sure it was his during the second round and had failed to tell the person he was playing with what he was doing. He hadn't realized that this was a violation until he saw Phil Mickelson on TV get penalized one stroke for the same violation. Because Triplett had signed his Friday scorecard with a lower-than-actual score, he was disqualified. Based on how he had played for three rounds, it cost Triplett at least $40,000.

A lot of money for a kid who used to play for pennies.

Seattle Times staff reporters Matt Peterson, Greg Bishop and Craig Smith contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2003 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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