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Best of the class

SOUTH COUNTY — Athletes from Gonzales, Soledad, Greenfield and King City were enshrined into the Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2017 on Saturday, Nov. 4, at Hartnell College. South County athletes entered the Hall of Fame as members of the 1984 Panther softball team, the 1980 football team, and the 1992 Men’s Cross Country team.

Entering the Hall of Fame as individual athletes were: Michelle Courrejou of Soledad as a softball and basketball player; Tamisha (Allen) Lanai Smith as a track and field athlete, volleyball and basketball athlete; Janis Diggs as a volleyball and track and field athlete; John Lucio, baseball player; Craig Rigsbee, football player; and Joel Sanchez, as a soccer player.

Coaches selected Alex Golomeic for soccer and tennis and Dick Voris as a football coach. Volunteers and supporters entering the Athletic Hall of Fame were Vic Collins (supporter) and Mac Coronado (supporter).

John Bustamante, a 1973 Gonzales High graduate played on the Panther football team of 1980 and was honored that his team was selected on the team. Kent Wiley of Soledad and a 1979 Gonzales High graduate was a teammate of Bustamante on the Panther team and was an All-League player at Gonzales, earning the Most Valuable Lineman Award.

“I had been working at Firestone until it closed up and wanted to keep busy so I went to Hartnell to play football and study,” said Bustamante. “We had a good team and was able to play with some good people.”

Bustamante was an All-League player for Larry Welsh at Gonzales High. Wiley was a sure handed, hard running tight end and hooked up with quarterback Tim Bernal for some dramatic game winning drives that got the Panthers to the State Championship. Wiley was first-team Coast Conference and team MVP and went to Chico State after graduating.

At Chico State, football was winding down so Wiley played on the rugby team where he helped the team win a Nor Cal championship and was an All-Nor Cal player.

Melissa Kirby, a 1993 King City graduate entered the Hall of Fame along with teammates Gloria (Cha Cha) Acosta of Gonzales, and Chris Torres of King City, and Gonzales resident Cecilia Villegas (Rodriguez) who prepped at North Salinas.

Greenfield resident Angel Villagomez was selected as member of the 1992 Men’s Cross Country team. Villagomez teaches at Vista Verde in Greenfield and is head coach for the champion Greenfield High cross country team.

“I remember that we won the Coast Conference championship, took first in Nor Cals, and placed fourth at State,” said Villagomez. “Coach Gary Shaw took our team everywhere that season. I was the only South County guy on the team at the time. Just many good memories of running cross country for Hartnell.”

Villegas was honored to enter the Hall of Fame and enjoyed seeing her friends, teammates, and coaches.

“I loved seeing my teammates and coaches together again,” said Villegas. “My memory of the team was how we won all the tournaments we played in that year. I felt like we put Hartnell on the map that year.”

Kirby and Villegas continued to play together after finishing at Hartnell as members of the Sonoma State softball program.

Courrejou, a 1981 Gonzales High grad played tennis, basketball, and softball as a Spartan athlete and played on the Panther basketball and softball teams.

The South County honorees enjoyed a luncheon at the college Student Center just before the induction ceremony.

The honorees were presented with proclamations with certificates from the Hartnell College and the California State Legislature, a Hartnell scarf, and a Hall of Fame Medal.

The new Hall of Fame members attended the Monterey Peninsula College vs. Hartnell College football game at Rabobank Stadium where they were presented at halftime.


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