The 1980 Antioch High graduate had an amazing .449 batting average his senior year, becoming the top hitter in the Diablo Valley Athletic League. Jeff Siino’s performance on the diamond helped lead the Panthers to a league title and a 13-3 record. The power slugger was responsible for driving in 17 RBIs for the season. After being recognized as the Antioch High School Outstanding Senior Athlete of the Year, Jeff went on to earn First Team All-DVAL as a second baseman. He was chosen by the East Bay prep sportswriters and coaches as First Team All-East Bay and named to the Citizens Savings Athletic Foundation’s All-California High School Baseball Team – North Division. The 6-foot-3, 180-pounder was a valuable asset to AHS as a junior, earning First Team All-DVAL as a utility player and being named by the Panthers as the MVP in 1979. Besides playing second base, Jeff also doubled as a pitcher and threw a complete game no-hitter in an 11-0 victory over Northgate High School. The Panthers made the North Coast Section playoffs in Jeff’s senior year. In a 9-5 victory against Amador, Jeff had three hits and two RBIs but had a more memorable experience fielding; he was hit in the mouth by the first infield practice grounder, and had to play the game with a borrowed glove – he had lost his glove prior to the game. The black and gold gridiron was also the recipient of Jeff’s talent. As quarterback and safety, he was selected to play in the Contra Costa-Alameda All-Star game, and as a defensive player, was one of only five in the DVAL named to the All-Nor Cal football team culled from 51 high schools. Jeff played varsity football and baseball under his father, Sal Siino, who was head coach for both teams. Following his high school career, Jeff played for the Los Medanos College Mustangs, earning First Team All-Camino Norte Conference as a third baseman, and hitting .339 for the 1981 season. In his second year for the Mustangs, Jeff’s season highlight was hitting two homeruns and six RBIs in one game against Solano. Following his community college career, Jeff transferred to California State University, Sacramento, where he played two seasons for the Hornets, hitting .384 in conference play during his first season.
Jesse Smith is one of the very few Antioch High athletes whose performances are so formidable that the records still stand after four decades. The cross-country runner’s time of 14.11 for a three-mile course and 9:27 for the two-mile course remain on the Panther record books as the best times ever recorded, making Jesse the best male cross-country runner in AHS history. Jesse’s record-setting three-mile race could not have happened at a better time – during the North Coast Section Meet of Champions in 1971. Preceding the NCS meet, Jesse was the first place finisher at the Diablo Valley Athletic League Championships with a 14:37 time. Recognized as the MVP for Antioch High’s cross-country team for two consecutive years, Jesse was also First Team All-DVAL and First Team All-East Bay as both a junior and senior, leading the best cross-country team ever to represent Antioch. The team’s total time (the top 5 runners) is 3:30 faster than any team in Panther history. After the cross-country season ended, Jesse continued running for the AHS track team for both his junior and senior years. As a junior, he set the North Coast Section II Class B 2-mile meet record of 9:45.4 in 1971, and bested that time by five seconds at the NCS Meet of Champions, coming in second place with 9:40.1. During his senior year at AHS, Jesse set the third all-time AHS record of 9:28.84 in the 3200-meter race and owns the seventh fastest recorded AHS time of 4:27.64 in the 1600-meter. Smith’s races were run using yards, and his times have since been converted to metric distances following the 1980 transition. Jesse headed to the University of California at Berkeley following graduation, where he ran for the Golden Bears’ cross-country team for three years from 1972-1974. During his college running career, Jesse clocked a 30:05 for a six-mile course at the Pac-8 Cross-Country Championships at Stanford. Following college, Jesse remained a fierce competitor, participating in the Ironman World Triathlon Championship in Hawaii in 2000, and has completed more than 30 double-century (200-mile) bicycling events.
Runners win by getting from point A to point B in the fastest time possible, however Rudy Viramontes had to jump over 39-inch wooden barriers before he got to the end of each race. The best hurdler in Antioch High School’s history remains the school record holder in the 110-meter high hurdles. His race time of 14:35, also a meet record, beat runners from 40 other schools at the Gilroy Invitational. Rudy also set a single race record in the 120-yard high hurdles in 1981 (14.4 seconds) that still stands after three decades. Rudy is the only AHS runner to be the Diablo Valley Athletic League’s first place champion five separate times: three consecutive years as the 120-yard high hurdles champion and two consecutive years as the 330-yard low hurdles champion. The 1981 graduate’s initial league championship came during his sophomore year in 1979, for the 120-yard event. Before entering AHS, Rudy competed as a 9th grader at Antioch Junior High School, breaking the AJHS record with 42 seconds flat in the 330-yard low hurdles – the first time he had ever run the race. The second and third league titles came during his junior season, when Rudy won first place in both the 120-yard high hurdles and the 330-yard low hurdles. AHS named him the Most Valuable Player on the boy’s track and field team. It was as a junior that Rudy qualified for the California Interscholastic Federation state meet, running the 300-meter low hurdles in 38.5. High schools were required to phase in the use of metric distances between 1979-1981. Schools and leagues were using yards, while higher-level competition had transitioned to meters. Rudy continued to improve during his senior year, becoming the North Coast Section Division II first place champion in the 110-meter high hurdles and adding his final two DVAL championships: finishing first place again in the same events from the previous year; 120-yard high hurdles and 330-yard low hurdles. The 330-yard event was discontinued in 1981, and Rudy ushered it out in style with a time of 37.2, becoming the permanent AHS record-holder. The team captain was AHS’ MVP for males in track and field as a senior, running on the 400-meter sprint relay team and the league champion mile relay team with Alan Mengenhauser, Tyrone Mendez and Jim Hill, whose 3:22.7 is the second best time in AHS history. Another notable senior performance for Rudy included coming in second place in the 300-meter low hurdles at the NCS Meet of Champions. The hurdler continued perfecting his skills at LMC, where he set a record of 52.3 in the 400-meter hurdles in 1982.
Antioch High School
One local sportswriter called Panther Baseball Coach John Whitman’s 16-year tenure from 1982-1998 a “dynasty.” His career speaks for itself; a 327-109 overall win-loss record that includes 20 post season wins, 14 North Coast Section appearances, eight league titles and three North Coast Section Championships; 1984, 1994 and 1995. His personal accolades are numerous. Among them; a 2001 State Senate Resolution for his success on the field and in the classroom, presented by Jack LaLanne and sponsored by then-State Senator Tom Torlakson; three time Lesher Publications’ Contra Costa County Coach of the Year in 1984, ‘89, and ’95 and the Oakland Tribune’s East Bay Coach of the Year in 1985 and ’95. He was selected to coach the Northern California High School All-Stars in 1995 that swept the South in a three-game series in Fresno. In 1994 Whitman was selected as the North Coast Section Baseball Honor Coach, and also received the American Baseball Coaches’ Association’s prestigious District 8 Western States Coach of the Year Award. In 1993 Coach Whitman was selected by Major League Baseball International to coach the Czech Republic’s 13-year-olds’ National Baseball Team at the European Games in Italy. The Czech team was successful in receiving its first international medal at any level. His 1995 AHS baseball team was the most heralded. It was BVAL, North-Coast Section, Northern California and California State champions. USA Today also ranked it #5 nationwide. Coach Whitman arrived on the Antioch campus in 1979 to originally build a boys basketball program. He considers one of his proudest accomplishments as leading the 1984 boys Panther basketball team to its first ever North Coast Section appearance. The Panthers defeated Pittsburg an unprecedented three times, then gained an at-large berth in the North Coast Section tournament in 1984. After fulfilling his initial commitment, Whitman coached the Panther girls’ volleyball team in 1988 to a winning season. In 1994 he coached the female hoopsters to a second place DVAL finish with a 23-6 record and a second place NCS finish after earning an at-large berth to compete. At least 15 of his baseball players were drafted by Major League clubs, with Jeff Pico, Alex Sanchez and Aaron Miles making it as major leaguers. Whitman has conducted and spoken at baseball clinics throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Antioch High honored Coach Whitman with a jersey retirement ceremony on April 29, 2006. He is now retired from teaching and occasionally coaches in Arizona, where he lives with his wife, Cheryl, a retired AUSD teacher.
The greatest cross-country runners to ever come out of Antioch made up the amazing team of 1971. No runner in the past four decades since then would have been fast enough to earn a spot on this illustrious squad, coached by Mike Hurd, a 2011 Sports Legends inductee. The total team time remains 3:30 faster than the next best team to ever run at AHS; its members hold eight of the 10 best 3-mile times in AHS history. Undefeated in eight dual meets, the team became the Diablo Valley Athletic League and North Coast Section II Champions then moved on to place second overall at the North Coast Section meet.
The team was ranked second in the East Bay, and had two runners (Jesse Smith and Mike Kelly) named to First Team All-East Bay, and one runner (Perry Anderson) named to Second Team All-East Bay. Collectively, the boys set a new meet record for the Block D Relays and won both the Clayton Valley and San Ramon Invitationals. Team members and their individual accomplishments: Jesse Smith (senior): (1st place AHS 3-mile record time of 14:11), First Team All-East Bay, 1st place Clayton Valley Invitational, 2nd place San Ramon Invitational, 3rd place in Select Division of the Pleasant Hill Invitational, DVAL individual Champion, 3rd place at NCS Region II Championships, 4th at the NCS Final. Mike Kelly (junior):(2nd best AHS 3-mile record time of 14:43), First Team All-East Bay, 2nd place at Clayton Valley Invitational, 6th at San Ramon Invitational, 8th at Pleasant Hill Invitational. Third place overall in the DVAL, 7th at NCS Division II, and 20th at NCS Finals. Perry Anderson (junior): (3rd best AHS 3-mile record time of 14:49), Second Team All-Easy Bay, 5th place in DVAL, 8th place at NCS Section II and 21st in the NCS Finals. David Mata (senior): (4th best AHS 3-mile record time of 15:02), John Millar (senior): (5th best AHS 3-mile record time of 15:08), Jerry Blakley (15:23) and Tom Webb (15:42) (seniors).