At the youthful age of 19, Townley Haas won his first Olympic gold medal, teaming up with the best swimmers in the United States to claim the 4 x 200 freestyle medley relay at the Rio Games in 2016.
Clelin Ferrell, another alumnus of Benedictine, won two national championships with the Clemson football team, was named the nation’s top defensive end and was selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft.
If you had to pick one as the greatest athlete to come from Benedictine, who would you pick? What about Ed Davis, who has spent the past nine seasons in the NBA? Or Granny Hamner, a 17-year Major Leaguer in the 1940s and 50s?
This is exactly the question my colleagues and I attempted to answer in this project: Who is the greatest athlete to come from each local high school?
How do you compare a swimmer with a budding professional career to an NBA veteran to a major leaguer from a bygone era? How do you rate new vs. old, swimming vs. football, Olympic vs. professional?
What you’ll see in the 46 articles that follow are our choices.
Let’s just get this out of the way right now: Every pick is a subjective one. The names that we selected are our opinions, nothing more.
We consulted with coaches, administrators and reporters, both current and retired, to make the most educated decisions possible. Feel free to offer your opinions in the comments section. On some articles, we’ll include a poll offering readers to give their choice.
With each greatest athlete, we’ll include a list of honorable mention. Some of the athletes on the runner-up lists accomplished so much, they’d be the greatest athlete at most schools. Among the honorable mention are a Pro Football Hall of Famer and a 17-year NBA stalwart.
In their book “Facts and Legends of Sports in Richmond,” authors Brooks Smith and Wayne Dementi wrote, “Richmond is not quite Sports City, USA, but if you tally our horses, race cars, ball players, swimmers and cricketeers, you might think twice.”
You could say the same for its high school athletes. While Richmond isn’t considered a hotbed for talent, the way Texas is for football or Washington D.C. for basketball, if you step back and look at the list in its entirety, you’ll see quite a collection.
You’ll see an African American athlete who used his fame to advocate for equality decades before LeBron James. You’ll see the NFL’s highest paid player and a Major League Baseball MVP. You’ll see decades logged in the NBA, and one the sport’s all-time best. The list also includes athletes you maybe never heard of: multiple volleyball players, a wrestler, several golfers and a mountain climber.