Sanger High Athletic Hall of Fame 2024 sees 9 inductions

Seven individual stars along with 1968 football champions and 1964 girls swim champs are all part of the Class of 2024, induction ceremony set for May 4

award-ceremony-adobe
Jon Earnest
Published March 22, 2024  • 
11:00 am

SANGER – Seven individual athletes and two outstanding teams are being honored this spring as part of the Sanger High School Athletic Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024.

This year’s induction ceremony event is scheduled for Saturday, May 4, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Sanger High MPR (Multi-Purpose Room) on campus. Tickets to the general public go on sale on March 24 and are available for purchase online on GoFan for $50 apiece.

The Class of 2024 inductees include six individual inductions (of seven inductees) and two team inductions. Individual inductees are Tom Brunner (Class of 1988, boys basketball), Brandi Honn (Class of 1993, girls basketball), Sam Maestas (Class of 2002, football), Marty Staneart (Class of 1978, alumna for rodeo career), Roy Vinton (Class of 1983, cross country), and Charles Wallin and Marilyn (Davis) Wallin (Class of 1960, swimming).

Here are bios for each inductee, in alphabetical order and as written and provided by the school; followed by team inductees:

Tom Bruner — Class of 1988

Tom Brunner. (Sanger High School)

Success in sports can be a result of continuing excellence within a program or a result of a “new beginning” where a program, players and coaches combine to begin a new tradition of excellence that has been absent. Tom Bruner represents the players in such a turnaround for the Sanger High boys basketball program, starting in 1986, under the leadership of Sanger Hall of Fame Coach Del Beshore.

Tom Bruner became the most accomplished boys basketball player in Sanger history by the time he graduated in 1988.

Bruner graduated as the all-time leading scorer in SHS history at 1,114 points, the first player to score over 1,000 points, an accomplishment that still ranks seventh after 36 more seasons.  Tom also was the school’s single game scoring leader at 38 points when he graduated.  And, perhaps most impressive, he graduated as Sanger all-time rebounding leader at 677, a record that stood for 35 years until finally eclipsed in 2023.  

The best example of Tom’s impact is that teams on which he played scored 49 wins, the second best winning record amongst players in Sanger history for three-year players, and still the fifth best winning record of all time including players that have played four years.

The 1988 team was the first Sanger boys basketball team to play in the CIF Valley Championship game, where they lost in Bakersfield 64-58 to the Foothill High team that went on to win the California State Championship. Old timers will remember that Tom played with a cast on his broken right hand, a fact that those same old-timers blame for the eventual loss. As a footnote, the game was Foothill’s closest game of the entire season.

Tom also played on the first-ever CIF Boys Volleyball team at Sanger High in 1987 with Coach Kathy Hushek. Teammates included Mark Etchyson, whose family helped to finance the team in its first year, a gift that finally got the sport off the ground at Sanger High.

After graduation from Sanger High, Tom went on to play at The Master’s College (now University) in Santa Clarita. Tom set one record there that may never be broken: 134 consecutive games as a starter, an almost impossible task in today’s sports world. He also remains as the school’s fourth all-time career scorer with just under 2,000 points, another impressive accomplishment that has lasted more than 30 years.

Bruner and his teammates helped to build Sanger High basketball after a down period. That record of accomplishment, despite a turndown in the 2000s, remains in place today as the program has again risen to winning heights under Coach Al Alvarado, another descendent of the Beshore years and teams.  

Brandi Honn — Class of 1993

Brandi Honn ranks as one of the greatest girls’ basketball players in Sanger High history, and the first girls’ player to be recruited to and play at a Division 1 college basketball program; in her case, Fresno State.

When Brandi graduated in 1993, she was the leading girls basketball scorer in SHS history and the first girls player to score more than 1,000 points, finishing with 1,171 total points. She still ranks fifth all-time 31 years later.

Also at her graduation, Honn was the leading rebounder of all time at 820 for her career, and she still remains as #2 all time. She achieved personal accolades of All-League (NYL) and All-Area (Fresno Bee), and City-County All-Star while playing.

But, as Brandi will tell you, those facts are not the most important. As with all other players in the Hall of Fame through Coach Roy Tanimoto’s program over his career, the team was paramount, and his players bought into that idea, embraced it and supported each other in their quest for excellence each year. Yes, she may have been the most dynamic player, but her success and the team’s success was of the most importance.

Brandi Honn. (Sanger High School)

The teams on which Brandi played won North Yosemite League Division Championships in 1990, 1991 and 1992. The 1992 squad won the Division 2 CIF Central Section Championship by defeating Edison High 54-48. That same team lost in the opening round of the California State Playoffs 52-51 to Bishop Montgomery of Torrance, who went on the finish as State runners-up that year.  

The 1992 Apaches finished the season 23-4, and along with the other two teams on which Brandi played, her high school record was 63 and 25, with three league division titles, one Valley title, and one section runner up.

A record-setting player on winning teams, a testament to personal and program excellence!

Sam Maestas – Class of 2002

Sam Maestas. (Sanger High School)

“Ground Chuck.” Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Shidan’s teams relied on skilled, tough running backs on offense. Sam Maestas fit that description during his career running the ball for Sanger High, and he was one of the most prolific runners ever when he finished in 2001.

When he graduated from Sanger High, Maestas was ranked as: #1 in all-time career rushing with 3321 yards, #2 in all-time single season rushing with 1710 yards, #3 in all-time single game rushing with 300 yards.

In scoring touchdowns, when he graduated, Sam was ranked as: #2 in all-time career touchdowns scored with 32, #4 in all-time single season touchdowns scored with 20, #1 in all-time single game touchdowns scored with 5.

Perhaps more importantly, Sam played on two Apache teams that competed for CIF Section Championships; in 1999 (when they lost to Tulare Union) and in 2001 (when they defeated Centennial of Bakersfield). 

Sam’s individual accolades include two-time All-West Yosemite League, City-County All-Star game, North-South All-Star and ESPN Athlete of the Week.

Maestas went on to play football at Reedley College where, once again, he was an integral part of a championship program, playing on Reedley College’s National Championship squad in 2003.

At Sanger High, Maestas also was a four-year letterman in Track and Field. After his playing days were completed, Sam did the “Sanger thing” and became a mentor to younger players in the community by coaching Sanger Youth Football.

Observers today take for granted Sanger High’s ground game prowess. It is interesting to note that in the first 89 years of Sanger football, there were just four rushing single seasons of 1000+ yards, in 1956, 1976, 1987 and 1988. During Coach Shidan’s 26 year career, there were 18 rushing single seasons of 1000+ yards, and so the legend was born. In the seven seasons since Coach Shidan retired, there have been four rushing single seasons of 1000+ yards.

This puts Sam Maestes’ career in perspective. He ranked, and still ranks, among the very best of the best all-time in SHS history.

Marty Staneart  –  Class of 1978

Marty Staneart, a 1978 Sanger High graduate, rodeo legend and proud son of Sanger is inducted into the Hall of Fame as an alumna.

From his beginnings in a makeshift arena in his backyard, Marty Staneart, with the spirit and support of his mother and family, began a journey to high school rodeo glory and professional renown.

From his 1976 bareback riding and bull riding championships at the California High School Finals, to his professional career participation as a 7-time National Finals Rodeo contestant and his wins in 20 of the 22 premier rodeos of his time, plus his 1986 and 1995 California Circuit bull riding championships, Marty is renowned as for his lifetime of dedication, sacrifice and his relentless pursuit of excellence.

Marty Staneart. (Sanger High School)

Staneart’s most iconic example of his skills and tenacity occurred at the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo on July 30, 1989, where he did the unthinkable at that time – he rode the infamous bull Mr. T for the full eight seconds, ending Mr. T’s streak over five years of 187 consecutive non-rides, a ride that etched Marty’s name in rodeo history. His achievements are numerous, and  his consistency and prowess earned him the reputation as one of the most dependable bull riders, a cowboy who could be counted on to always give his all.

Marty’s life is a narrative of passion and hard work. Known as one of the last of the traveling cowboys, he embodies a bygone era. Between contests, he ran cattle, living a life that was as much about the journey as it was about the destination. His story is a vivid tapestry of rodeo arenas, open ranges, a cowboy and his ride.

As we honor Marty Staneart’s induction to the Sanger High Athletic Hall of Fame, we are celebrating not only a list of achievements, but also a man who lived for the thrill of the ride and whose life is a testament to the spirit of the rodeo.

Marty’s story is a reminder that athletes and their legends are not just born; they are forged through years of hard work, unrelenting passion and an unwavering commitment to their dreams. His story also reminds us of the enduring spirit of the cowboy, a spirit that continues to inspire and captivate us all.

Roy Vinton — Class of 1983

Roy Vinton was the outstanding Cross Country runner of his time.

Cross Country is that ultimate team sport where individuals and their success enables the team to win because each individual’s efforts build toward a final result that may not be known until the last runner crosses the line. In many cases, the first runner in races during that time was Roy Vinton, so his points were counted early and often.

Roy Vinton.(Sanger High School)

Roy was a part of or a leader of Sanger High Cross Country teams from 1978 to 1981. In 1979 and 1980, the teams were League Champions in the West Yosemite League. In 1980, the team was also Central Area CIF Champions, just missing a CIF Valley (Section) Championship by a narrow margin.

In 1981, Roy was the first-ever individual CIF Division 1 Valley Champion, an honor achieved in Division 1 by only one other Sanger High runner, in 1984. Finally, in 1982, the team was the first-ever Valley Championship Cross Country team in Sanger High history.

Roy Vinton led Sanger High into its first golden age of Cross Country, the Division 1 era punctuated by his brilliance and the brilliance of fellow Hall of Famer David Naranjo just after him. That golden age would be followed by the Division 2 era through the late 80s and into the 90s. Those teams were all coached by Hall of Fame Coach Dave Dodson.

The latest golden age of Cross Country has been emphatically joined by the Girls’ team and Coach Sean Marzoff has led both teams to League and CIF Section Championships between 2019 and 2022. 

Roy Vinton was a building block within the ongoing success of this program, the first to achieve unprecedented success.

Roy also excelled in track as a member of the 1981 League Champion track team. He competed in the 1600 meters, the 4 x 800 meter relay, the 4 x 1600 meter relay and the distance medley relay. And 43 years later, his 1600 meter time is still within the Top 10 All-time marks at SHS.

He became Sanger High’s Coach Vinton in the early 2000s. His 2002 boys cross country team was 21st at the California State Meet, and he coached both boys and girls qualifiers to the State Meet. He was a tireless fundraiser for Cross Country and enabled runners, who would otherwise have been unable to participate, to run in the National Junior Olympics meets.  

Roy Vinton is a Hall of Famer, personally and professionally. We are proud to honor his efforts.

Charles and Marilyn (Davis) Wallin — Class of 1960

In a lucky community such as Sanger, there are those individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes with no fanfare or accolades expected. Two such persons are Charles and Marilyn Wallin, who have supported and advocated for Sanger High athletics – specifically water polo and swimming – for many years as but one of the numerous community activities they have supported.

Charles Wallin. (Sanger High School)
Marilyn (Davis) Wallin. (Sanger High School)

Charles is a long-time Rotary Club member, and Marilyn was a career teacher; first at Lincoln School for five years and then at Wilson School for the remainder of her tenure as an educator. Those activities alone speak to their commitment to the youth of Sanger over many years.  

Charles and Marilyn were ardent supporters of aquatics programs at SHS. Charles is remembered by many as the man who approved or reserved judgment on aquatics hires or administrators that were hired. His criteria was simple and to the point: Did that person “know and understand water?” To those who have supported aquatics over the years, that question says it all.  

The Wallins were always there when their children competed. They supported them and the others who competed with them. There were numerous high points, and there were numerous frustrations, as is always the case in athletics. They saw their sons’ teams compete for Valley Championships, and they saw them win both individual and team CIF Valley Championships, a joy not afforded to all who participate.

Charles and Marilyn had both competed in swimming at Sanger High. Charles was a member of the Valley Championship boys swimming team in 1958, and individually, he was a member of the Valley Championship Medley Relay team in 1960.

Although their contributions have been primarily out of the public eye, one contribution stands out, and that would be their family’s continuing success at Sanger High. Mark, Chris and Brian Wallin were all outstanding water polo players and swimmers at Sanger, and after that at Stanford University, where each was an All-American in water polo. All three have previously been elected into the Sanger Hall of Fame, in 2018, 2019 and 2020. So it is fitting that Charles and Marilyn join them in this honor, since all have contributed to ongoing excellence in Sanger High aquatics programs over the past many years.  

The Wallins join just four other families in the Sanger High School Hall of Fame in achieving this distinct honor. 

1968 Football Team

The 1968 Sanger High football team. (Sanger High School)

In its 124 year football history, Sanger High has won 585 games (a winning percentage of .583) and has captured 30 league championships, eight CIF Valley or Section championships while appearing in 13 title games.

The first Valley Championship was won in 1951, and the most recent came in 2016. Even among those eight elite teams, there are teams with legacies that are remembered. Among those storied teams is the 1968 Apache Football Team coached by John Perkins.

The 1968 team, if one listens to others that came after, provided a blueprint for Apache football that still exists today. The 1976 team members, for example, remember that the 1968 team was the inspiration for their success. So, what makes the 1968 team so special?

The answer is defense. The 1968 Sanger High team may have been the most prolific defense that Sanger has ever produced. The team ended the year as Sequoia Division (medium-sized schools) champions with a record of 11-1. 

But how they did that is most impressive. During that season, Sanger broke a three-year drought against the large-schools North Yosemite League, in the second game, by defeating Bullard High School.

Sanger outscored that season’s opponents 268-50, or, 22 to 4 per game. They were 5-0 in League play, with two shutouts, and outscoring the other league members 147-20, or 29-4.  And then, they saved their best performances for the CIF Valley playoffs.

In the postseason, Sanger defeated Coalinga 20-0, and then defeated Garces in the championship game 13-0. Two games, two victories, two shutouts – all in the biggest games of the year.

The team ended the year ranked #2 in the Valley, Sanger’s highest-ever ranking until that time.

There are numerous famous names from the 1968 team. The two most famous are Bruce Barnes and Jim Merlo. Barnes went on to play at UCLA and then in the NFL with the New England Patriots, while Merlo went on to play at Stanford and then in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints.  Both were named to Sanger High’s inaugural Hall of Fame class of 2018.

Thirty-seven young men and three coaches. A memorable team that set the defensive standard for Sanger High football.

1964 Girls Swim Team

The Sanger High 1964 girls swimming team. (Sanger High School)

It is time to clarify history. 

Sanger High’s girls athletic history can be divided into two parts. The first part includes girls tennis and girls swimming, launched in 1927 and 1953, respectively. The second part refers to the CIF era, which began in 1975 and includes all other girls sports.

It has been common wisdom that the first-ever girls Valley (section) championship team was the 1988 girls basketball squad. That is incorrect.

The first girls team to win a Valley Championship was the girls swimming team of 1964.

The 1964 girls team was part of a Sanger High swim juggernaut that dominated its league for 13 years from 1954 to 1967 and was coached by Hall of Fame Coach Jack Tiftick and Coach Jan Probert-Hunter.

The 1964 team became the first girls team in Sanger High history to win a Valley crown and remains the only SHS girls swim team to win a section title. 

The team was led to the title by individual champion swimmers in three events. Pat Angell was victorious in the 50 yard breaststroke and Marilyn Booth was the 50 yard butterfly winner. And the quartet of Pat Angell, Marilyn Booth, Sandy Hutchinson and Kristy Jensen won the 100 yard freestyle relay.  

The 1964 Sanger High girls diving team. (Sanger High School)

So, with apologies to this team and its 23 swim members and 6 diving members, the Sanger High Hall of Fame is proud to correct the record of who is the first girls team to win a Valley Championship, and to honor them with their entry into the Hall of Fame in 2024.

Jon Earnest
Reporter