By Bonta Hill
When thinking about the best prep male athlete in San Francisco, names like University’s Noah Springwater, St. Ignatius’s Johnny Mrlik and Washington’s Jeremy Jetton pop up immediately.
While those respective student athletes had excellent seasons for their schools, the impressive senior season of Balboa High School’s Christian Pulusian exceeded them all, as the three-sport star has earned the accolade of SanFranPreps.com Male Athlete of the Year.
“It’s an honor, but I have to give thanks to the coaches [and] my teammates for everything,” Pulusian said. “We came up a little short in getting championships for Balboa, but it was a great year anyway.”
Although his numbers on the hardwood were modest, averaging seven points per game, Pulusian’s excellence on the football field and baseball diamond were more than memorable, forever keeping his name mentioned on the Cayuga Street campus.
In football, he was named the Academic Athletic Association Player of the Year and helped lead Balboa to its first Turkey Bowl appearance since
Pulusian was as versatile as they come, playing running back, tight end, linebacker, safety and kick returner. Offensively, he amassed 206 yards rushing, 603 receiving yards and 594 return yards with 11 total touchdowns, showing his all-around talent.
On defense, Pulusian was all over the field, accumulating 139 tackles and three sacks from his numerous positions. In a league that gets little notice from college recruiters, Pulusian’s play was so noteworthy that the likes of Oregon State and Nevada were interested in him.
“I’ve seen this kid grow and he has been nothing but a model student,” said Balboa football coach Alvaro Carvajal. “Although I felt he got slighted in terms of getting a scholarship [to a Division I school], he’ll be in good hands at the College of San Mateo and he’ll do good things there.”
Balboa endured a rough basketball season, missing out on the AAA playoffs. Although Pulusian had ordinary numbers on the basketball court, he was still awarded honorable mention on the All-AAA team for his defense and work ethic.
Pulusian finished his tenure at Balboa with an All-City performance in a baseball uniform. The center fielder was named first-team AAA and second-team All-City, batting .397 with three home runs and 15 RBIs.
In helping lead Balboa to its first baseball championship game appearance since 1992, Pontino heaped nothing but praise on Pulusian.
“[He’s] one of the finest young men I ever coached and he is going to be a leader in the future,” Pontino said. “On our team this season, he was supposed to be our No. 3, 4 hitter, but we needed a leadoff hitter in every way — power, speed, average — and he never complained about that. He told me, ‘Coach, whatever you need, I’ll do.’ I’m really going to miss the young man.”
The 3.8-GPA student is holding his head up high as he is attending the College of San Mateo to play football for one of the best programs in California.
“I feel everything happens for a reason, so I’m not dwelling on what didn’t happen, but I’m excited about being a Bulldog,” Pulusian said. “We grew at Balboa in my four years and I’ll always be a Buccaneer.”
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