Notable athletes who got their start in Sonoma County

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The Redwood Empire produces some of the best athletes in the world. From Olympians like swimmers Maya DiRado and Molly Hannis, to professional football players Koa Misi and Bob St. Clair, there is no denying the athletic prowess of Sonoma County residents.

The hall of fame is littered with such early greats as Ralph Rose, our first Olympian, who earned six medals — three golds, two silvers and a bronze in three Olympic games. There's also Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman who dominated American women’s tennis before World War I, earning 45 U.S. titles.

Other greats include swimmers DiRado and Hannis as well as Julia Smit and Jenna Johnson, who earned medals in the 2016, 2008 and 1984 Olympic games.

In baseball, high achievers include Seattle Mariners pitcher Casey Fien who was born in Santa Rosa, and MLB player-turned-coach Jason Dean Lane, who played at El Molino and Santa Rosa Junior College.

These are only a handful of our county's sports stars. The list goes on and on when it comes to stellar athletes who got their start in our hometown courts, fields and pools.

Click through our gallery above to find more Sonoma County athletes who made it big in the world of sports.

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