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Prep sports: Hall for eight

Saugus inducts accomplished class of 2012

Posted: September 14, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 14, 2012 2:00 a.m.

(From left to right) Saugus graduates Ryan Zirbel, Desi Rodriguez, B.J. Willkomm, Nick Delio and AnnMarie Summerhays-Davenport were inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame Thursday.

Among the books and computers in the Saugus High School library on Thursday evening was a collection of a different sorts — a collection of “the golden age of Saugus athletics,” as cross country head coach Rene Paragas put it.

In front of an expected crowd of approximately 150 people, Principal Bill Bolde welcomed the next eight members into the Saugus athletics Hall of Fame, marking a total of 48 former Centurion athletes who have been inducted into the select group since 1998.

Olympic volleyball player and 2012 Team USA member David Smith, Oakland Athletics pitcher Tommy Milone, professional golfer Nick Delio, nine-time CIF champion runner and the first athlete to score points on four separate state cross country teams Amber Murakami, season and single-game basketball assist leader AnnMarie Summerhays-Davenport, all-time leading basketball scorer B.J. Willkomm and 2008 Foothill League champion football players Ryan Zirbel and Desi Rodriguez earned the bi-annual honor on Thursday night.

All but Smith, Milone and Murakami were in attendance to accept their plaques.

“It feels fantastic,” said Delio of being included in the class. “I think I’m the very first golfer to be inducted. That’s a tremendous honor. Everyone here is very, very blessed to be here.”

That was a sentiment echoed by all of the athletes in attendance.

“I feel honored to have my name mentioned among theirs,” Summerhays-Davenport said. “It’s really impressive what this school, the athletes it’s been able to produce.”

A list Bolde is ready to put up against any school in the state.

“I’m not positive about this, but it would be hard for any school in California at any one given time to recognize the achievements and the kinds of people these individuals represent.

“The last 10 years of athletics at Saugus High have been pretty significant. Ten years ago, we had won 50 league championships in 27 years, and we have won 43 since, nine CIF championships in that 10 years and six state titles.”

Four of those six state titles came during Murakami’s reign with the girls cross country team.

“I have written here, ‘the marquee athlete of the golden age of Saugus athletics, and cross country,’” Paragas said. “We never won a state title until Amber came along and we never lost a meet. I call her Miss November — she would have the biggest runs in November.”

Now, the success has extended well beyond the high school gymnasiums, fields and courts.

“Literally, the other day I looked up at the screen and I saw Tommy Milone pitching,” said Willkomm, who has gone on to become a track and field coach at Humboldt State University. “I felt such a great connection to Saugus because I can recall how hard of a baseball player he was.”

Speaking of Milone’s work ethic, his former Saugus head coach George Lopata had plenty to say.

“Dominant player. He was a special type of kid who always took advantage of his opportunities and defied the odds. The sport came easy for him, but the opportunities were the exact opposite,” Lopata said.

They all took different paths to get to this point, but on Thursday they all paused for a moment to reflect on where it all began.

“It’s a great community, it’s a fantastic place to live and a great place to go to high school,” Rodriguez said.


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