Pepper Marks is ranked fourth in the state in her division. | Credit: Victor Bryant

SBCC men’s basketball player Aidan Mandel and Santa Barbara High wrestler Pepper Marks were named the SBART male and female athletes of the week at Monday’s Press Luncheon.

Marks holds the distinction of being the first female CIF champion in Santa Barbara County history following her exploits last season and added to her extraordinary career by winning her division title at the Hueneme tournament. It is her second title of the young season.

At the Hueneme tournament, Marks had three first-period pins and a 16-0 technical fall. She is 12-0 on the season and ranked fourth in the state.

“When we go to tournaments, I feel like I’m with a celebrity,” said Santa Barbara coach Marc Fidel. “People come up to her and they just want to be around her. She is sort of magnetic, and when she enters the tournament, her name is Pepper Marks, but invariably she always loses the ‘Marks’ and she goes through the tournament as ‘Pepper.’ They announce her over the loudspeaker as ‘Pepper’; she is like Pelé or Madonna.”

Mandel, a San Marcos High product, has become a centerpiece of  a resurgent SBCC team. He scored 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting, his most efficient shooting day of the season, to lead the Vaqueros to victory in the third-place game at SBCC Classic. 

Aiden Mandel | Credit: Victor Bryant

Over the course of the three-game SBCC Classic, Mandel averaged 24 points (on 60.1 percent shooting), nine rebounds, three blocks, and two steals per game. He was selected to the all-tournament team.

“What I love about Aiden is that he’s such a hard worker. He really goes at it. I never have to ask him to get in the gym. He’s always doing everything he needs to do,” said SBCC assistant coach Trey Putnam. “He’s also a great student, a 4.0 student. He’s been doing that, I think, all of his life, really.”

Scholar Athlete Award

San Marcos High girls’ water polo player Reagan McEachen was awarded the SBART Scholar Athlete of the Year Award for her school. McEachen boasts a 4.92 GPA and currently takes Advanced Placement Bio, Advanced Placement Literature, Advanced Placement Government, Advanced Placement Economics, and Advanced Placement Statistics, and she has been on the Accelerated Academic Program for Leadership and Enrichment (AAPLE) Academy.

Last month, McEachen signed her National Letter of Intent to attend Stanford and continue playing water polo.

“I’m here today with my coach Chuckie Roth. My first water polo camp at the age of 8 was with Chuckie, and that experience locked in my early decision to attend San Marcos so that I could play for him,” McEachen said. “You will never find a more enthusiastic, dedicated, and supportive coach. Chuckie inspires your best inside and outside of the pool.”

Roth characterizes her as an unsung hero who has been a driving force for San Marcos’ highly ranked water polo team. She has twice led San Marcos in drawn ejections during a season. 

Scholar Athlete Award recipient Reagan McEachen | Credit: Victor Bryant

“People that really know the game value what she does. She plays center forward for us, and she is the one drawing extra penalties, and then someone else shoots those and scores those goals,” Roth said. “She is the true definition of a team player. She really doesn’t care about her stats or how many goals she has. It’s whether the team is being successful or not.”

San Marcos High Athletic Director Retiring

Monday’s press luncheon was the last for San Marcos High Athletic Director Abe Jahadhmy, who will be retiring in January. 

Jahadhmy has been at San Marcos for 35 years and has served in his current position of Athletic Director since 2004. His commitment, kindness, and leadership was echoed by several San Marcos High athletes and coaches as well as athletic adversaries, who have been influenced by his massive impact over the years.

“He has been involved in so many students’ lives. It’s easy to be an AD and do your job every day and not get to know the students, and Abe takes time to know all of the students, and he knows so much about your team. It is very impressive,” Roth said. “[Abe] has been such a backbone for my program and helped my program grow to where it is today.”

Aaron Solis, who has been involved with San Marcos High athletics and activities since 1991, will serve as Jahadhmy’s replacement.

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