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State of Play By Mark Tennis    It won’t be known until early July who will be the 2013-14 State Athlete of the Year,...

State of Play By Mark Tennis

   It won’t be known until early July who will be the 2013-14 State Athlete of the Year, but for someone who put in the effort to excel in three different sports, a special tip of the hat should go to Miramonte’s Drew Anderson.

   There’s no doubt that the three-sport athlete, especially one who competes in the big three of football, basketball and baseball (or track and field), has been a dying breed for many years. So when you run across one like Anderson, special attention is deserved.

   The recent graduate from Miramonte passed for 4,074 yards and 47 touchdowns for the Mats’ NCS D2 title team in football, then he averaged 21.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in basketball. He followed it up with an All-East Bay third team season on the diamond as an outfielder.

   Northern California did have another outstanding three-sport athlete who just graduated in Vanderbilt-bound Nifae Lealao from Capital Christian-Sacramento. Nifae, who is going to Vandy for football, started on the Cougars’ NorCal Open Division finalist basketball team and was a key contributor in volleyball.

   Still, in these days of specialization, it’s hard to find very many high school athletes who strive to compete in three different sports. 

   My favorite three-sport athlete from Northern California in the last 20 years would have to be C.C. Sabathia of Vallejo. Everyone knows him now as a shutdown starting pitcher for the New York Yankees. Before being slowed by injuries in recent seasons, Sabathia has been one of the top starting pitchers in baseball since going 17-5 in 2001 for the Cleveland Indians.

   At Vallejo, though, Sabathia did much more than throw fastballs. He was a solid starting power forward for Vallejo basketball teams that were among the best in the state and played defensive end/tight end in football. He came to one of the Nike football camps one year and was tough for anyone to handle. If he’d gone on in football (and before he gained weight as a baseball pitcher), he definitely had NFL potential. 

   For all he did at Vallejo, Sabathia was the 1997-98 Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Year.

   Two other three-sport State Athletes of the Year from Northern California in recent years have been Drew Shiller of Burlingame (football, basketball, baseball) for 2004-05 and Antwon Guidry of Leigh-San Jose (football, basketball, track) for 2000-2001.In more recent years, three-sport athletes from Northern California who’ve caught our attention include Jason Welch from Las Lomas-Walnut Creek for 2007-08, Jeffrey Maehl of Paradise for 2006-07 and of course Colin Kaepernick from Pitman-Turlock for 2005-06.

   The only reason that Kaepernick’s accomplishments in football, basketball and baseball at Pitman did not end with him being State Athlete of the Year is that we had him ranked third on the list behind Chase Budinger from La Costa Canyon-Carlsbad (basketball, volleyball) and Richard Sherman of Dominguez-Compton (football, track). 

   Budinger and Sherman weren’t three-sport athletes, but Budinger was the national player of the year in boys volleyball that year in addition to basketball while Sherman was the CIF state triple jump champion in addition to football. 

   Maybe we’ll just have to start a separate list in the state record book someday of the top three-sport athlete for each school year. Kaepernick would be on it for sure for 2005-2006, and now that we’re thinking about it, so would Anderson for 2013-14.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder of Cal-Hi Sports, and publisher of Cal-Hi Sports is the authority in state rankings for football, basketball, baseball and softball, as well as the recognized state record keeper for all high school sports. Contact him at  HYPERLINK “” and follow him on Twitter, @CalHiSports.

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