The Press continues its look at the archived athletic moments and feats that frame history and provide much-needed sports action during this pandemic-induced stoppage of play.
Three former East County baseball stars were drafted in the Major League Baseball draft.
Former Freedom High star shortstop Kyren Paris was drafted by Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Angels in the second round (55th pick); the New York Yankees drafted former Heritage High and St. Mary’s College designated hitter and pitcher Kevin Milam in the 14th round (435th pick); and the Atlanta Braves nabbed former Liberty High, Butte College and University of Washington outfielder Connor Blair in the 15th round (457th pick).
“Obviously, the first day you have the big names, like Kyren, and we were extremely happy for him, and to see Kevin and a couple of the other guys names pop up there was real exciting,” said Heritage head coach Kevin Brannan.
Jared deFremery, a Liberty High sophomore at the time, partnered with teammate Miles Kaneko to win the 2018 Bass Pro Shop’s Fishing League Worldwide High School Fishing Clear Lake Open while also earning the The Bass Federation/FLW California State Championship.
Representing the Delta Teen Team, deFremery and Kaneko finished first in the 72-team event in Clearlake, winning by nearly 2 pounds. Reaching the five-bass limit, deFremery and Kaneko weighed in at 19 pounds, 2 ounces. The second-place team came in at 17 pounds, 10 ounces.
The Freedom baseball team relished a Bay Valley Athletic League-winning season.
The Falcons had not won a league title in eight years and were coming off a 3-7 campaign in Bay Valley Athletic League play the previous season.
“Before the season, we told the kids they were playing a tough schedule; that nothing was going to be easy,” said then Freedom coach Francisco Zelaya. “With every competitive game we had, our goal was to gain something from it — win or lose. We had to focus on the process. Our body language and our mindset were always positive.”
O’Hara Park seventh grader Anthony Belt was celebrated for quickly advancing his young motocross career.
He received an American Motorcyclist Association plaque for the winter series, placing second overall and recording two wins.
Heritage graduate Ryan Howell was drafted in the 15th round by his childhood team — the Oakland A’s.
“It’s a dream come true,” Howell said at the time. “That’s the easy thing to say, I guess. But I’ve wanted to play pro ball since I was a little kid, so this is awesome.”
Also in 2015, a host of amateur bowlers took part in the Professional Bowlers Association’s Northern California Senior Classic Pro-Am at Harvest Park Bowl.
While many fans were just thrilled to interact with some of the top senior pros, including Walter Ray Williams Jr., Pete Weber and Amleto Monacelli, others were determined not to leave without getting their autographs.
Brandon Muroaka planted himself outside the bowlers’ locker room, every so often peeking down the hall for a chance to snag Monacelli.
“My friend has the 50 top greatest players,” he said. “I’m just trying to get (Monacelli’s) because he is one of them.”
Heritage two-sport star Sydney Berry signed her letter of intent to run track for California State University at Northridge. She was crowned the 2014 Bay Valley Athletic League (BVAL) track MVP. During her run, she set school records with a 19.275-foot effort in the long jump and a 38-foot, 8-inch jump in the triple jump. On the basketball court, she was named to the all-BVAL team her junior and senior seasons.
Liberty wrestler Bryar Edwards was recognized for winning the USA Wrestling Triple Crown award after securing three state championships.
“As a little kid, we’d wrestle around and he seemed to have a high threshold for pain,” said Jim Edwards, Bryar’s father. “He wouldn’t scream or cry and would actually fight out of tough positions. We got him into Taekwondo from age 4 to 7, then jiujitsu from 7 to 9, and started wrestling from there.”
Former Liberty pitcher Chris Gruler was featured after he started an Internet branding company following the end of his baseball career.
The promising right-hander wowed scouts with a 96-mph fastball and a devastating curveball, but ran into a jam shortly after getting drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2002 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
“I began throwing a lot after getting drafted,” Gruler said. “My shoulder just couldn’t keep up.”