In the decades before high-tech running shoes and synthetic tracks, Eddie Savage sprinted into the Antioch High, Contra Costa County and North Coast record books in the 660-yard dash. His record-breaking prep career began in 1960, by setting the best time in Contra Costa County: 1:30.4 in the 660. By the spring, he clocked 51.2 seconds in the 440-yard dash, breaking a record set by Antioch’s Mack Enz in 1959. In the Martinez Relays of May, 1961, Eddie aided his Panther team – Richard Neveu, Allan Ramsey and Dave Farley – in winning the 2-mile relay race with an 8:06.7 time. That same season, he set the 660-yard course record of 1:24.2 in the County League meet. At the season end, Eddie continued to improve, peaking at the North Coast championship. His tike of 1:22.9 in 1961 broke a North Coast record. The speedy Panther led his cross country team to a DVAL championship that year and was named MVP. Eddie continued his running career at Fresno State in 1962. He attended on a full athletic scholarship and lettered all four years as well as serving as president of the Bulldogs’ “Block F” Society. As a freshman, he set a cross-country record in the 5000 meters and ran the seventh fastest 880-yard race in the college’s history – 1:53.2. Following graduation, Eddie became a biology teacher for 12 years and coached track at three California schools; Selma High, Sanger High and Parlier High. He coached two individual athletes to state titles; Terry Barr in the triple jump and Cole Herron in the high jump.
Ron Sbranti graduated from Antioch High in 1962 after playing third base on the varsity baseball team and offensive and defensive end in football during his junior and senior years. He was All-League in both sports and captain of the football team. Ron was known for his hard-nosed football, which was noticed by college recruiters. He was signed by Utah State University and played there on a full-ride football scholarship. During 1963-1965 at Utah, Ron was a starting defensive end for all three years and team co-captain in his senior year. The 6’2”, 235-lb. linebacker played in the 1965 Honolulu, Hawaii Hula Bowl and the 1966 East-West Shrine game in San Francisco at Kezar Stadium. In the latter he caught a touchdown pass. Ron was drafted in the 10th round, the 147th overall pick, by both the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers in 1966, during the days of the double draft. Ron played 14 games for the Broncos in the 1966 season, wearing jersey #54.
Gary Sheide did not disappoint the hometown fans in 1969, when as a junior, he quarterbacked the Panthers to a 20-0 “Big-Little Game” victory over Pittsburg, the first in 22 years. But that’s not all: Gary’s tip-in with one second left – in the third overtime – clinched an Antioch High basketball victory which was the first court win against the Pirates in 12 years. Gary’s amazing athletic abilities began as a child; he held a Little League All-Star strikeout record, threw a football 60 yards and dunked a basketball – all by eighth grade. He was AHS’s all-time leading scorer, the first person to surpass 1,000 points. He batted .400 in baseball and quarterbacked his football team: both earned league championships. This triple-threat athlete began college at DVC, then moved on to Brigham Young University on a football scholarship. Gary’s career soared in Utah. He was first in a string of six All-America quarterbacks, followed by Jim McMahon and Steve Young. As a college junior, Gary was #2 in passing and #3 in total offense nationwide. By his senior year in 1974, Gary threw for 2,174 yards, including 23 touchdowns. He earned Conference MVP honors; captained BYU to its first ever Fiesta Bowl; was awarded the Sammy Baugh trophy as the nation’s “Best Passer”; named to the All-Conference Academic Team; was UPI Second Team All-America and eighth in balloting for the Heisman Trophy. College career totals: 4,524 yards and 45 touchdowns. Gary seemed destined for a professional football career. He was the second quarterback in the 1975 NFL draft, taken by the Bengals in the third round, but played in only exhibition games before being cut due to injuries, ending a nationally recognized career.
Forty years before there was Tiger Woods, there was Wayne Sleppy. Son of Ollie Sleppy, the head professional at the Antioch Municipal Golf Course, “Champagne Wayne” moved to Antioch at age 12. One year later, in 1952, he shot a hole-in-one at age 13, the first of six in his lifetime, and several times matched his career best round of 65. During his four years of prep play, he lost only two matches. Described by the Antioch Ledger as a “frail, 130-poun d” high school junior in 1956, he placed sixth in the state playoffs. He was a DVAL medalist in 1957, leading his Panther teammates to a huge win over top-seeded Acalanes 5-1 and on to a County championship. Simultaneously, Wayne was playing in the Antioch city championships outside of school, winning as a junior in 1956 against local veteran Joe Rios. En route to winning the 1957 city championship, the AHS senior beat Antioch’s own golf “legend” Elmer Clites by knocking in a hole-in-one on the Par 3 hole #18. His 69 score beat Clites for top medalist before moving on to match-play, defeating top Napa player Howard Shinnerer for the title. Wayne became a PGA professional following high school graduation, working as resident pro at the Long Beach municipal course at age 20 where he met and golfed with movie, TV, and sports celebrities. In 1964, he beat 142 players, including PGA champion Jerry Barber, U.S. Open winner Lloyd Mangrum and World Golf Hall of Famer Paul Runyan, to capture first in the Southern California PGA Tournament in what was described by sportswriters of the time as “the biggest surprise in the 40 years of the championship.” Following that $2,000 win, Wayne’s career included playing in the Bing Crosby “Clambake,” the Los Angeles Open and the San Diego Open.