Over the past 10 years, some truly extraordinary student-athletes emerged at local high schools. We decided to try to answer an intriguing question: Who are the absolute best male and female prep competitors from the last decade?
Before we get to that, here are some notes about the criteria for this project and the selection process, which included a poll of high school coaches and athletic directors.
1. Jon Brockman, Snohomish H.S., Class of 2005
Then: Scored 2,025 points in 104 games from 2001-2005 and led Snohomish to the state tournament three times. A relentless rebounder, the Panthers’ career scoring leader was a two-time all-state selection, was twice named The Herald’s All-Area Player of the Year and signed with the University of Washington after being courted by many of the nation’s elite college coaches.
Now: Selected in the second round of the 2009 NBA draft, Brockman plays for the Sacramento Kings.
2. Travis Snider, Jackson H.S., Class of 2006
Sports: baseball, football
Then: As a senior, the burly yet relatively fast outfielder batted .500 with 45 runs batted in and 11 home runs, helping nationally ranked Jackson go 27-0 and win the Class 4A state baseball championship. An Arizona State University recruit, Snider instead opted to go pro and was a first-round Major League Baseball draft pick of the Blue Jays, who gave Snider a $1.7 million signing bonus. Before deciding to focus on baseball, Snider was a standout football player. He was Johnie Kirton’s lead blocker in 2002 when Kirton rushed for 2,675 yards.
Now: Snider is an outfielder for Toronto and has played 101 big-league games over the past two seasons.
3. Burke Barnes, Lake Stevens H.S., Class of 2002
Then: The Herald’s 2002 Man of the Year in Sports, Barnes became the third wrestler in Washington history to win four individual high school state championships (115 pounds in 1999; 125 pounds in 2000, 2001 and 2002). He won his final 74 matches for Lake Stevens and had a career record of 128-4. Coached by his dad, Brent Barnes, Burke helped lead the Vikings to state team titles in ‘00 and ‘01.
Now: After becoming a four-time NAIA All-American in college, Burke Barnes is now a volunteer assistant coach at Lake Stevens.
4. Johnie Kirton, Jackson H.S., Class of 2004
Sports: football, basketball, baseball, track and field
Then: A human bowling ball on the gridiron, Kirton had an incredible senior season. In his only year as a featured tailback, he averaged 8.9 yards per carry, scored 34 TDs and racked up 2,675 yards rushing, 1 yard shy of the state big-school single-season record. The University of Washington recruit, who also played defensive end, was named state player of the year by Gatorade and the Associated Press.
Now: Kirton (6-foot-3, 285 pounds) signed on Dec. 14 with the Arizona Rattlers, members of the newly formed Arena Football One. He is listed as a fullback on the Rattlers’ roster.
5. Ryan Appleby, Stanwood H.S., Class of 2003
Then: A point guard who scored and set up teammates with equal success, Appleby finished as Stanwood’s career leader in points (1,724) and assists (775, including 22 in a single game). As a senior he averaged 24 points and nine assists, earning first-team all-state honors. The player known for his excellent shooting range signed with the University of Florida and later transferred to Washington, where he teamed up with Snohomish alum Jon Brockman.
Now: After college Appleby was picked by the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Development League but was released before playing a game. He lives in Seattle and works as a wellness consultant at Gold’s Gym in Auburn.
Mike Cane: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam.