Four years ago, they led their high school teams to regional prominence as big-time players with a penchant for big-time plays. Now, Shaq Thompson, the former Grant star, and Jordan Richards of Folsom are headliner talents in the Pacific-12 Conference at Washington and Stanford, respectively. And at this time next year, they very well could be on NFL rosters as first-round draft selections.

Xavier Thames didn’t care where he was picked in Thursday’s NBA draft – he just wanted to be picked.

Once the fastest man alive, Jim Hines is now 67, looking fit and always eager to discuss track and field. He holds a special place in sprinting lore, be it for his record exploits in Sacramento on the hard-clay track at Hughes Stadium in 1968 on the famed “Night of Speed,” when he was the first to crack the 10-second barrier in the 100-meter dash; or his sizzling effort later that summer at the Olympic Games in Mexico City, where Hines won the 100 in 9.95 seconds, a world record he held for 15 years.

Stacy Dragila was so new to pole vaulting that her first post-college meets featured frayed nerves and even a bit of a fashion crisis. She wore mismatching outfits – Nike shoes with an adidas warmup – she wasn’t sponsored, and she had no idea if she would succeed. In time, she certainly did, pioneering a new era for women’s athletics with her ability to jet down the runway, stick a pole into the pit and soar to new heights.

EUGENE, Ore. – Mike Duncan is subtle yet swift in putting ideas into action.

EUGENE, Ore. Diondre Batson paced like an anxious cat, wanting to pounce on the prize though he was unable to.

Bernie Church offers a cautionary tale. The retired McClatchy High School baseball coach said the recognition that comes with being a first-round pick in the major-league draft can catapult players to new heights or serve as an overwhelming burden.

Curtis Rogers still replays it in his mind, a groundhog moment that never grows old. Johnson High School pulling away from Southern California track powers in the 4x100-meter relay in the 1986 CIF State Track and Field Championships in Norwalk. Rogers, the second leg on that relay team, was one of the most accomplished track performers in Sac-Joaquin Section history.

Reggie Christiansen wanted to extend the ride, to stretch the season another week at least. The Sacramento State baseball coach was resigned to reality, however. The Hornets bowed out with a 1-2 showing in their first NCAA Division I Regional. Players were disappointed but encouraged. Christiansen was still stewing after a six-hour bus ride home from San Luis Obispo, and he spent a restless Sunday night tossing and turning.

Cal Boyes planted the seed. John Smith watered and nurtured the growth. And Reggie Christiansen has helped Sacramento State baseball blossom.

Within weeks, Sacramento State will have an athletic director opening as Terry Wanless bows into retirement.

Tyler Schimpf lost his hat.

It was some weekend for Jake Browning, and he didn’t even handle a football. Folsom High School’s record-breaking quarterback displayed unusual modesty by passing up meat-market combine-like evaluations in the Bay Area to appear at two events close to home.

Go to any local sporting event these days and prepare to experience all manner of boorish behavior.

There was no exhaling in the glare of TV floodlights inside the Radio City Music Hall green room or chaos in New York for Eric Pinkins and Terrance Mitchell during the NFL draft. Instead, they were at home in Sacramento

Mitch Hart doesn’t just throw a baseball. The Granite Bay High School power pitcher offers screaming lasers that draw a crowd.

It was the fall of 1996. Well before his tour in the NBA led him to starting at small forward for the Los Angeles Clippers, Barnes was all arms, legs and curiosity as a junior at Del Campo High School. At 6-foot-8, Barnes was a college basketball recruit, but his slight frame made it easy to shove him around. To counter that, Barnes joined the football team as a wide receiver.

Months after the Elk Grove Unified School District celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009, bad news crashed the party in the form of a guillotine-size budget cut. Freshman sports were eliminated, severing athletic opportunities in what can be a critical development year.

Diondre Batson is on the fast track to his home turf. The Alabama sprinter targets the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in June at Sacramento State in his native city as a finish line of sorts, capping a stretch of performances that include some of the nation’s best times this spring.

Rob Willson doesn’t have to endure this. He could be working in his garden, working on his tan or working his way through the meat section of the grocery store before grilling and chilling. Instead, the veteran Sierra College baseball coach is back in the grind in the pressure cooker known as the Big 8 Conference.

Eric Berger was looking forward to playing with the River Cats, a chance to pitch in front of family and friends. The Bee’s 2004 Player of the Year from Woodcreek High School, Berger was released by the A’s last Thursday, the eve of the Triple-A River Cats’ homeopener at Raley Field. The 27-year-old left-hander had allowed one run and three hits in 1 1/3 innings for Sacramento.

They couldn’t find their husbands, and that realization left the ladies to look at each other, then the heavens. Then they laughed.

Though just 5-foot-7 and 156 pounds, Guy Anderson keeps growing in stature. The 81-year-old Cordova High School coach is second in California career wins, and he's become synonymous with baseball.

This is the time of year when fatigue battles desire. But desire can prevail in this race.

Stephen Vogt doesn’t want to be here, but he is. And the 29-year-old catcher will make the best of his return to the River Cats after getting squeezed out in a numbers game with the A’s because attitude and class define his character.

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