One of the first projects Paul Hogue took on after becoming the athletic director at Merced High School last year was putting together a sports Hall of Fame.
For a school that opened in 1895, Hogue felt it was long overdue.
“Being AD gave me a vehicle to get it done quickly,” Hogue said. “When I became athletic director, Vince Clemons was one of the first people I asked about the Hall of Fame. He said when he was AD, they were close to getting it done but it fell apart. Since we started this project the support has been amazing.”
On March 21, Merced will welcome its inaugural Hall of Fame class of 22 inductees during a dinner ceremony at Merced Fairgrounds’ Yosemite Hall.
As you can imagine, the list is rather impressive.
It includes a former NBA player in Gerald Madkins; a former Olympian in Margie Dingeldein; a former professional golfer in Gary Bauer; former NFL players Tony Slaton and Lloyd Winston; former Major League Baseball player Rick Williams; and two state championship wrestlers in Adam and Dan Cuestas.
“I’m very proud to be recognized for this honor,” said Slaton, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Merced County. “Merced is a very special place for me. This place has been good to me. It’s just a great honor for me.”
Madkins led Merced to section titles in 1986 and 1987, leading the state in scoring both seasons. The Bears went 58-7 in Madkins’ career and he averaged 26.3 points, 7.4 assists and shot 67 percent from the field.
Next to playing at UCLA – where he met his wife – Madkins said some of his best basketball memories are from his time at Merced.
“My wife always says I talk about playing at Merced so fondly,” said Madkins, who is now the director of scouting for the Los Angeles Clippers. “That’s because I was playing with family. I had a cousin on the team. I had two other teammates who I grew up riding Big Wheels (with) together. It’s hard to say any other time in my basketball life was better than my Merced years. I was proud to be a Bear. Merced was home.”
Dingeldein set three individual league records and helped set two relay records in swimming. At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, she contributed goals against Russia, Canada and Italy and helped the U.S. women’s water polo team win a bronze medal.
“I’m looking forward to coming back to Merced and seeing people I haven’t seen in a very long time,” said Dingeldein, who is a physician at UC San Francisco Medical Center. “I’m also looking forward to meeting the other athletes being inducted. I’d like to meet as many of them as possible.”
Adam Cuestas helped the Bears wrestling team win four consecutive section championships. He was a three-time individual section champion from 1976-78 and won state titles in 1977 and 1978.
Dan Cuestas was on three section championship teams and won two individual section titles. He also won back-to-back state championships in 1976 and 1977.
Slaton played football at USC. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills and later played for the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys.
There are also some longtime coaches being honored, such as Clemons, Mark Speckman, Hooks Devaurs, Bill Joerg and Dick Juarez.
Clemons led the boys basketball team to four section titles and 13 Central California Conference titles in his 21 years, compiling a 445-207 record.
For Madkins, it’s special to be inducted alongside Clemons.
“I’ve had one coach in my life,” Madkins said. “I’ve played for a lot of different men. A lot of good men, but I’ve only had one coach in my life and that’s Vince. He did so many things for me coming up through that program.”
Speckman, who will also be the keynote speaker, led the Bears football team to back-to-back section titles in 1989 and ’90. Merced was named the state championship team in 1990 by Cal-Hi Sports. The 1990 team will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
To select the inductees, Hogue assembled a committee of 14 people. They met five times to come up with the list of 22 using their own criteria.
The main focus was on high school accomplishments, such as state championships or section championships. They also considered MVP awards, all-league and All-Area honors. Then they looked at what they did after high school.
Hogue’s biggest fear was leaving out deserving people.
“I’ve already heard it 100 times, ‘What about this guy or why not that guy?’ We have 22 people on our list and I still have a list of 150 names,” Hogue said.
The cost for the dinner is $45 and tables can also be purchased for $750 and $1,000. Tickets are available online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/902737.
All the proceeds will go to improving the athletic facilities at Merced High.
“The first facility we’re looking to build is a football stadium,” Hogue said. “We’re looking to build a bigger pool. Will this raise enough money to do all this? No. But we’re hoping to get the word out in the community what we’re trying to do.”
Sun-Star staff writer Shawn Jansen can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Merced’s Inaugural Hall of Fame Inductees
1990 state championship football team