Editor’s note: Since November the Elk Grove Citizen has surveyed former and current coaches, administrators and community members for a poll to decide the All-Decade Team for males, females and teams. Here are those results.
Ten years ago the city of Elk Grove had about 52,000 residents and the Elk Grove Unified School District had five high schools.
Now, as the first decade of the 21st century ends next week, Elk Grove has blossomed into a city with a population of slightly more than 142,000 and a school district with nine high schools.
Some of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s best athletes reside within the city limits. Over the past decade, EGUSD’s athletic teams have won 21 section championships in six different sports, along with 36 section runners-up in 11 different sports.
In that group of athletes have been many who have taken their skills to the collegiate, and even, to the professional level in their sport, excluding Olympic athletes that have also competed in the Summer and Winter Games.
Thus, to honor these who have worked so hard to excel in their sport, the Citizen decided to put together a list of the top 10 male athletes, the top 10 female athletes and the top 10 teams of the past decade.
EGUSD Male Athletes of the Decade (alphabetical order):
Cody Allen, Elk Grove baseball/football
Name the only athlete to earn the All-Delta League Most Valuable Player honor in both baseball and football in the same academic year. Allen did that in 2004-05.
As sophomores, Allen along with Andrew Lopez and senior right-hander David Hernandez, led the Thundering Herd to a section championship in 2003. Allen and Lopez, in their senior years, won the Section again, the first of Elk Grove’s three-peat titles in baseball.
Allen signed with the Florida Marlins, which drafted him in the 10th round in 2005. He played two years in their organization as primarily as an outfielder, but tried his hand as a pitcher in 2007 with Great Falls in the Pioneer League.
But Allen had the itch to play football again.
This fall he led Sacramento City College to the Mid-Empire Conference championship as its quarterback. Allen was named the conference MVP.
Ryan Coulson, Elk Grove football/wrestling
For three years, Coulson was an intimidating middle linebacker for the Herd. Twice he was named the defensive Most Valuable Player of the Delta League.
But, during the winters, Coulson used his brawn on the wrestling mat. In 2006, Coulson was the section champion at 215 pounds. However, a concussion prevented him from wrestling at the state meet.
Coulson is now a starting defensive end on the University of Nevada football team, which will play SMU in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.
Alan Darlin, Laguna Creek football
Darlin had such talent in the eyes of college scouts that he was in the Rivals’ list of Top 100 California recruits in 2004.
Darlin attended Oregon State where he made 25 starts at middle linebacker. In 2007, Darlin was named to the All-PAC-10 second team. That season Oregon State was ranked second nationally in defending the run. Darlin was one of the main reasons for that.
Michael and John Drake, Elk Grove wrestling/baseball
It was impossible to mention the accomplishments of one of the Drake twins without talking about the other.
Both were key members of the 2005 section championship wrestling team at Elk Grove.
Michael was a two-time section wrestling champion at 171 pounds – in 2004 and 2005 – and the state champ in ’05. He also supplied a power-hitting bat for the Herd’s section-championship baseball team in 2005.
Instead of accepting a college scholarship to wrestle, he decided to stay close to home and play baseball.
Michael went to Cosumnes River College where he still has the school record for RBIs in a season with 56 in 47 games. He later played at San Jose State.
John was third at the high school state meet in 2005 at 189 pounds and was an infielder on the Herd’s baseball team. He went on to wrestle at Cal State Fullerton at 197 pounds where he was an NCAA qualifier in 2008 and was fifth in the Pac-10 that year.
Injuries shortened his collegiate career.
David Hernandez, Elk Grove baseball
He not only pitched the Herd to the 2003 section baseball title, but also was one of the most sought-after local talents over the past decade. Hernandez was drafted by the Colorado Rockies out of high school, but decided to go to college instead.
Pitching at Cosumnes River College, Hernandez continued to dominate opposing batters and has the Hawks’ career mark in strikeouts (224) and wins. In 2005, he was drafted again, this time in the 16th round by the Baltimore Orioles.
Earlier this year, he won his major league debut on May 28 against the Detroit Tigers. He concluded his rookie season with a 4-10 record with a 5.42 ERA.
Hernandez is expected to contend for a spot in Baltimore’s rotation in 2010.
Tony Kays, Elk Grove football/basketball
A member of the 2001 Herd section championship football team, Kays was one of Elk Grove’s best wide receivers of the past decade. He was also a standout member of the Elk Grove basketball team.
Kays was one of UC Davis’ star football players this decade. He graduated as the Aggies’ all-time leading pass receiver with 207 catches.
Brad Kilby, Laguna Creek baseball
Kilby was an all-Delta League standout, hitting .522 and earning a 7-4 record on the mound for the Cardinals in 2001. He played at San Jose State where, as a starting pitcher, Kilby earned All-Western Athletic Conference honors in 2005. That year he was 7-2 with a 1.86 ERA, the best in the WAC.
Kilby was drafted in the 29th round by Oakland in 2005. He played two years with the Sacramento River Cats as a left-handed set-up man out of the bullpen. He made his major league debut on Sept. 2 and finished the season with a 1-0 record and a 0.53 ERA.
Kilby is expected to battle for an opening-day roster spot in the A’s bullpen in spring training.
Spencer Levin, Elk Grove golf
Levin was a two-time NorCal champion in 2000 and ’02 and the Division I section champion in ‘02. He was the low amateur in the 2004 U.S. Open and also won the California Amateur that same year.
Levin was a three-time champion on the Canadian Tour. This past summer he finished 143rd in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings.
His best finish was a tie for seventh in the U.S. Bank Classic in Milwaukee.
He recently earned his tour card for 2010 at the PGA “Q School.”
Marlon Patterson, Franklin cross county/track
If there was one local athlete who dominated his sport, it was Patterson. He won five section championships combined in cross country and track. All four years, his teammates at Franklin honored him as the MVP for both sports. His time of 4:09.70 in the 1600-meter run at the 2006 Sacramento Meet of Champions still stands as the record.
That year he led the Wildcats to the section track and field title.
Patterson is now a senior on the UCLA track and field team, where he runs the 1500 and 5000 meters.
Jake Rodriguez, Elk Grove baseball/football
Rodriguez is the only current high school player on the All-Decade team, but his name appeared on just about everyone’s survey. There has perhaps been no one local baseball player that’s been more decorated than Rodriguez.
He batted clean-up and played third base on Elk Grove’s 2007 section championship team as a freshman. The next two years he batted over .500 and led the section with 43 RBIs last season.
Rodriguez was CalHiSports’ Sophomore of the Year in 2008. That same year he led the Herd football team in rushing yards as the starting fullback.
But, prior to his junior year, Rodriguez verbally committed to play baseball at Oregon State and opted to quit football.
In 2008 he was a member of the Team USA 16-and-under Jr. National team. This past season, Rodriguez showed he’s a quality relief pitcher as well, going 4-0 with a 0.74 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 38 innings.
Last month, he signed his letter of intent to play for Oregon State. Yet, Rodriguez could be a high major league draft choice in June.
All-Decade Team (plus one):
DeMarcus Nelson, Sheldon basketball
He only played one season in Elk Grove – 2003-04 – but graduated as one of the state’s greatest players. Nelson averaged 30.3 points, 10.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game as a senior. He was Mr. Basketball in California, a Parade All-American, the NorCal and PowerBar Player of the Year and Delta League MVP.
Nelson played four years at Duke and was the opening-night starter at point guard for the Golden State Warriors in 2008. He is now playing for Scandone Avellino in Italy.
Armond Armstead, Pleasant Grove football/basketball; Max Baker, Elk Grove wrestling; Manase Hopoi, Valley football; Brandon Pinckney, Elk Grove baseball; Maurice Miller, Sheldon basketball; Adam George, Elk Grove football/wrestling; C.J. Morgan, Franklin basketball; Sean Nill, Laguna Creek football; Mitch Quist, Elk Grove football/wrestling; Ryan Sypkens, Franklin basketball; Jeremy Ross, Laguna Creek football; Roburt Sallie, Valley basketball; Xavier Thames, Pleasant Grove basketball; Casey Weathers, Laguna Creek baseball; Julian Welch, Franklin basketball; Adam Wood, Laguna Creek, basketball/baseball; Marcus Jackson, Sheldon; and Wayne Hunter, Valley basketball.