Jeff Co.'s best? It's still up for debate


About six weeks ago, after watching the MLB love fest for Derek Jeter that was supposedly the all-star game, and all the discussion on does he belong on the New York Yankees' Mount Rushmore of all-time great players — he doesn't by the way — I proposed we in Jefferson County do the same for our local athletes.

Can we whittle down the thousands of kids that have made us stand up and cheer or gasp in awe at the things they could do on a field, track or court.

The idea was to keep native son Jacoby Ellsbury out of the conversation because he already occupies on spot on our mountain of four faces. And the idea was more for me, not being from here, to get a better idea of the history of athletics in Jeff Co.

Well, the results are in. But before I get to that, let me hit on two things.

First, the participation level was far less than what I had hoped for. The first week, I received quite a few responses, but like anything else, after a little time people move on to other things.

Second, for those that took the time to call, email or come by with lists, I want to say thanks for taking the time.

I learned some things and was able to hear a few stories about days gone by. I'm always up for stuff like that.

So if we could carve our own heroes into the eastern face of Mount Jefferson, it would be either Ellsbury alone or about 50 people along with him.

The names that were mentioned turned out to be a crazy mixture of athletes that spanned decades, mostly from the 1950s through the 2000s, but yielded no duplicate names. Not one athlete was ever named twice.

And one other very surprising thing, at least to me, there was only one recent athlete named, and that one was from a proud papa that said he was a little biased.

So here are a few of the names, in no particular order, that were nominated. Hopefully, most of them are easily recognized or remembered.

Miguel Baltazar, Culver: Baltazar was a four-time wresting champion for the Bulldogs in the mid 2000s. Won titles at 119 pounds in 2005-06 and moved up to win two more crowns at 126 pounds in 2007-08. He went on to have a nice career at Southern Oregon.

Ron Jones, Madras: Was a one-man machine on the 1970 White Buffalos team that won a state basketball title. Later played at Oregon State.

Satch Miller, Warm Springs: A legendary pitcher who was drafted into the pros. Still lives in Warm Springs and works with Little League baseball teams.

Lanisha Goicoa, Culver: All-state in volleyball and fastpitch during the early 2000s.

Mike Lofting, Madras: A beast for the Buffs' football and track teams of early ‘80s. Named all-state multiple times and held many track records.

Nevin Lewis, Culver: Led the Bulldogs to back-to-back state title appearances in football, winning one. An outstanding all-around athlete, played football at Portland State.

Jason Smith, Warm Springs: The king of wild horse racing, Smith is a decorated 17-time champion in a sport that is as wild as its name. And he is still going strong.

Joe Piedmount and Greg Macy, Madras: Duo who lead the White Buffalos to a state basketball championship in 1961.

There were others, like Larry Fivecoat (a catcher for Madras in the '50s), Loren Corwin (Madras standout in the late’40s, early ‘50s), MHS coaches Bob Nelson (cross country) and Vince Powell (baseball), Nate Lewis and Alex Carlson (Culver sports) and a few other coaches, Ole Johnson and Evan Brown (Madras basketball).

I'm sure there are many worthy names not mentioned, so maybe we will revisit this sometime down the line. But for now, the stage is open to a new generation of athletes, ready to add their names to this list.

Jeff Wilson is the sports editor of the Madras Pioneer. He will never, ever come close to making a list like this one.