When Brendan Jenkins signed his National Letter of Intent to play baseball at the University of San Francisco last November, Cuesta College head coach Bob Miller knew he had a player capable of spearheading the Cougars’ 2016 campaign.
As the first Cuesta baseball player to put ink to paper during the early signing period in more than a decade, Jenkins lived up to his preseason All-American billing and helped lead the Cougars to their first Western State Conference championship since 2013.
For his efforts, Jenkins, a sophomore right-handed pitcher, was selected as the Cuesta College Male Athlete of the Year during the school’s 51st annual end of the year banquet Tuesday afternoon inside the 200-seat Student Center.
“Coming here was easily one of the best decisions of my life,” said Jenkins, a Pleasanton native. “I’d like to thank my teammates. Day in and day out, they push me to get better. That’s why we’re conference champions and still playing.”
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Jenkins, a two-time first-team all-conference performer, has proven to be a key factor in the Cougars trip to the second round of the California Community College Athletics Association baseball playoffs.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pound sophomore pitched eight sharp innings during Cuesta’s win-or-go-home victory against Palomar last Sunday and figures to be on the mound when the Cougars play host to Chaffey in a best-of-three series this weekend.
Jenkins is well known for his program-record 37 consecutive scoreless innings streak as a freshman, and his career 1.93 ERA is the best in Cuesta history by more than one run. He also ranks in the program’s top-10 in shutouts (three), wins (14) and games started (23).
“It’s really an honor that even before this season started that he was that highly regarded,” said Miller, who praised the consistency and competitiveness Jenkins provides on a daily basis.
Sophomore pole vaulter Augusta Thomason has been an equally valuable part of the Cougars’ track and field program over the past two seasons and was chosen as the Cuesta College Female Athlete of the Year.
Thomason won the CCCAA state championship as a freshman in 2015 and owns No. 1 leap in school history after clearing 13 feet, 4 1/4 inches last season.
That strong performance, coupled with a standout prep career at San Diego’s Rancho Bernardo High, landed Thomason a scholarship offer from Division I powerhouse Texas A&M.
Thomason, who, like Jenkins, is still in the midst of her sophomore season, will look to improve on her season-best jump of 12-6 during the regional finals Saturday afternoon in Lancaster.
“The coaches here have been so supportive of me and have given me so many tools to use,” Thomason said. “Not only on the track, but in my own life.”
Also Tuesday, Cuesta recognized women’s soccer player Keiley Hansen and baseball standout Nick Rutckyj as its scholar athletes of the year.
Assistant softball coach Henry Valaau was honored as the Alberta Deutsche Fan of the Year. He’s served as an assistant coach for the past 11 seasons, helping steady the program as its turned over five head coaches during that time.
Each of Cuesta’s 15 sports programs — with the exception of men’s basketball — nominated someone for Athlete of the Year, and their respective coaches gave five-minute speeches highlighting their accomplishments.
Other nominees included: Emily Crane (water polo), Demi Danell (softball), Christen Engel (soccer), Johnny Hartshorne (water polo), Sean McDermott (cross country), Matthew McDonnal (swim), Ande Miller (swim), Emily O’Brien (volleyball), Luis Quintero (wrestling), Joe Reeves (track and field), Autumn Russell (basketball) and Aly Voth (cross country).
“Everybody in this room has been instrumental in the success that we’ve had this year,” Athletic Director Bob Mariucci said, “and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”
Cuesta College Athletes of the Year:
- 2003: David Lamar (Baseball); Shanna DeMichelle (Swimming)
- 2004: Kevin Bradley (Water Polo, Swim); Christina Reyes (X-Country, Track)
- 2005: Mike Brown (Baseball); Jessie Ritchie (Tennis)
- 2006: Jeff Chaney (Water Polo); Lindsay Campana (Softball)
- 2007: Michael Williams (Wrestling); Whitney Levicki (Water Polo)
- 2008: Quentin Cate (Baseball); Julie Coelho (Volleyball)
- 2009: Tom Schumacher (Basketball); Chloe Redman (Tennis)
- 2010: Roger Guardia (Basketball); Kelly Barmann (Cross Country)
- 2011: Eric Marsh (Water Polo); Alexandria Bernard (Water Polo, Swim)
- 2012: Malte Kramer (Basketball); Devon Kelsey (X-Country, Track)
- 2013: Brady Moore (Water Polo); Kryn Masutani (Softball)
- 2014: Georan Meendering (Water Polo, Swim); Riley Cooks (Volleyball, Track)
- 2015: Connor Fisher (X-Country, Track); Rachel Gruetzmacher (Water Polo, Swim)
- 2016: Brendan Jenkins (Baseball); Augusta Thomason (Track)