Former Mead High School track and field coach and state track and field hall of famer Gary Baskett died on Thursday at 77, according to Mead athletic director John Barrington.
Baskett took an already successful boys program at Mead and turned it into one of the most dominant in state history during his 20 years.
His teams won five state titles – including three straight from 1994-96 – placed second four times and third twice in the 4A and 3A classifications, producing 33 individual state champions and 23 high school All-Americans.
He sent more than 120 Panthers to compete at the collegiate level over the years.
One of the many highlights of Baskett’s career was coaching his son Jason, who won multiple state championships in the weight events and set a national indoor record in the shot put.
During a 17-year stretch, Baskett’s teams won 159 consecutive Greater Spokane League dual meets.
Baskett was named GSL Coach of the Year twice, state coach of the year three times and was inducted into the state track and field hall of fame in 2001.
After retiring from Mead, Baskett coached 20 NCAA national qualifiers and eight All-Americans over four years at Whitworth. He was a National Masters shot put champion and official, and assisted at Community Colleges of Spokane and Mt. Spokane High School.
Baskett was a school record-setting and Metro League champion shot putter at West Seattle High School. He attended Wenatchee Valley Community College and graduated from Central Washington University in 1967, setting school records and placing ninth at the NAIA national championship meet.
He started his coaching career with a graduate assistant position at CWU. He had stints at Washington schools Ilwaco, West Seattle, Lincoln, Federal Way and Wenatchee Valley before landing at Mead.
Along the way, Baskett became a discus and shot put official and expert. He gave track clinics throughout the West, usually focusing on throwing events, and officiated every major meet in the West – including the Goodwill Games, the NCAAs and the short-lived professional circuit.
Baskett started at Mead in 1979, succeeding hall of fame coaches Tim Buckner and Duane Hartman.
Mead won the GSL title every year Baskett was coach except for a two-year stint by Ferris in 1980 and ’81. His teams were ranked third in the nation twice and fourth once.
Baskett stepped down in 1999 and was succeeded by recently retired John Mires.