Spanish Springs senior Ryan Anderson is the Sparks Tribune Male Athlete of the Year for the 2015-16 athletic year.
Standing 6-6, Anderson was a first-team all-league selection for the basketball team in the winter. He averaged 8.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game for the Cougars (16-9, 12-4), who finished second in the High Desert League.
This spring, he was named the DI North Pitcher of the Year. The Nevada commit compiled a 6-2 record with a 1.09 ERA over 70.1 innings. He struck out 99 batters compared with just 20 walks.
He even earned a two-out save in the DI North regional tournament against Bishop Manogue, sending the Cougars to the semifinals.
His dominance was something many in purple expected going into the spring.
“There was a little bit of expectations I felt I had to meet,” Anderson said. “But after that first start, I almost threw that no-hitter (one out away from no-no in league opener against Bishop Manogue), I was like, ‘I don’t need those expectations.’ … I just took that and ran with it.”
His basketball success was more unpredictable, at least to Anderson. He did not play basketball in the offseasons and given the choice between throwing a bullpen and shooting jumpers in an empty gym, basketball lost more times than not.
“I kind of surprised myself a little with basketball. I didn’t think I’d play as big a role as I did. But I think that I helped contribute to a lot of our wins,” Anderson said. “I think a lot of it I can attribute to coach (Kyle) Penney because he kind of pushed me to play as hard as I could. He got the most out of me that I think anyone could have.”
After graduating from Spanish Springs on Saturday, Anderson will prepare to head up to Walla Walla, Wash. to play for the Walla Walla Sweets in the West Coast League – one of the best summer baseball leagues in the country.
Saturday may not be just gradation day for Anderson, however. There is also a possibility his named will be called in the Major League Baseball Draft. The Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox and others have been in contact with the lanky lefty.
As to where he could be taken, if he is taken at all, Anderson is unsure.
“I really don’t know,” Anderson said. “I just think it’s really an honor to be to be in the talk to maybe be a draft pick. Whatever happens, I’ll just see how it goes. I’m really just focusing on Nevada right now and Walla Walla and seeing how that goes.”
If Anderson’s name is not called, or it is and he decides to continue a family tradition of competing at Nevada, he will be joining a team that won 20 of its last 24 games and appeared in its first Mountain West Tournament title game under first-year head coach T.J. Bruce.
“That (finish to season) really got me pumped up,” Anderson said. “I can’t wait to get out there and help any way I can.
“I watched every single game (in MW tourney) and I watched that New Mexico game (title game) knowing we were down on pitching. But I was just hoping and praying.”
Anderson is not walking across the stage on Saturday and into the abyss, diploma in hand. He will continue to make waves. His success at Spanish Springs, this year in particular, is only the start.
“I think I had four really good years here,” Anderson said. “I think I gave everything to the Spanish Springs Cougars that I could. I can’t really dwell on that. I just hope for the best in the future.”
Male Athlete of the Year Honorable Mention
Parker Houston, Reed – Houston was a stud tight end/defensive end for Reed and a big bat in the Raiders’ lineup this spring. He will play tight end for San Diego State in the fall.
Matt Denn, Reed – Denn leaves the Reed football program as one of the best statistical quarterbacks in Nevada large-school history. He quarterbacked the Raiders’ to their fifth straight regional title last fall. He was also a speedy outfielder in the spring.
Ataloanui Tuikolongahau, Sparks – Tuikolongahau was named second team all DI-A North as a defensive tackle for the Railroaders in the fall. He also finished fifth in the state in the discus with a throw of 149-10.
Jacob Dye, Spanish Springs – Dye won the DI North regional wrestling title (160 pounds) and went on to finish second at state. In the fall, he was an honorable mention defensive back for the football team.
*Athletes are required to be multi-sport seniors to be considered for Sparks Tribune Male Athlete of the Year.
**The 2015-16 Sparks Tribune Female Athlete of the Year will be revealed next week, followed by the 2015-16 Sparks Tribune Team of the Year.