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 big senior season Balboa High School’s Christian Pulusian had cannot be overlooked, nor fly under the radar any longer as the three-sport star has been named The San Francisco Examiner and 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,” said the humbled and gracious Pulusian. “We came up a little short in getting championships for Balboa, but it was a great year anyway.”
Although his numbers on the hardwood floor were subpar, averaging only seven points per game, Pulusian’s excellence on the football field and baseball diamond were memorable, forever keeping his name mentioned at 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 1984.
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 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, Pulusian’s play was so good that the likes of Oregon State University and Nevada took a long look at him and considered giving him a full scholarship.
“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, 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 modest numbers on the basketball court, he was still awarded honorable mention for his defense and work ethic.
Pulusian finished his tenure at Balboa with an All-City-type 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.
His coach Tom Pontino mentioned that he should’ve batted him third, but needed him in the leadoff spot.
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,” said Pontino. “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.”