Riverside City College to induct its largest sports hall of fame class

Updated: Oct. 29, 2015 Posted: September 23, 2015 | Written by: Laura Tapia, Brooke Cary & James Williams

Riverside City College’s athletic department will celebrate the college’s 100th anniversary by inducting the largest class in the history of its hall of fame.

Among the eight athletes that will be honored is the former Riverside City College swimmer and water polo player Andrea Antonissen. Antonissen is one of nine athletic hall of fame inductees for the class of 2015.

ANDREA ANTONISSEN

Sports: Swimming and Water Polo

Career: 2010-12

Antonissen can be considered the most decorated athlete in the history of RCC and has the accolades to back that claim. She was named the California Community College Sports Information Association Women’s Athlete of the Year as a sophomore. A huge part of that honor stemmed from the rare accomplishment of being named the MVP at two different state championship events – water polo and swimming – in the same year. At the 2012 CCCAA state swimming and diving meet as the top medalist in three individual events, the first in RCC’s history. In water polo, she earned two MVP titles and two state water polo championships.

Among the former athletes to be honored are: Astia Walker, Jeff Bajenaru, Marty Montigel, Sam Knight, Blanche Knight and Richard Ramirez.

ASTIA WALKER

Sport: Track and Field

Career: 1993-95

Prior to her time as an Olympian in the summer of 2000, Walker won three state titles with the Tigers in the 100-meter hurdles, 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash. She has held RCC’s record in the 200-meters with a time of 23.42 and 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.67 since she ran in 1994, when RCC won the state championship.

After her junior college career she moved onto Louisiana State University where she remained a Tiger and helped the school secure four Southeastern Conference Championships. Walker was a 13-time All-American during her time at LSU from 1996-98. She won three national championships and was a three-time Southeastern conference champion.

JEFF BAJENARU

Sport: Baseball

Career: 1996-98

During his two years at RCC, Jeff Bajenaru received all-conference, all-region and all-state awards. He was a prime hitter with 153 hits and 115 runs scored, 35 doubles and 202 total bases. Tigers won 74 of 98 games and a conference title with Bajenaru on the field. He was drafted both his sophomore and junior year of college, first by Oakland Athletics during the 13th round and later by the Chicago White Sox in the 34th round, but he turned down both offers accepting instead a scholarship at the University of Oklahoma. In 2002, Bajenaru hit .342 with 11 home runs and 58 runs batted in. As a pitcher, he set a Conference and Oklahoma record for season and career saves. In May 2000, he signed with the White Sox and debuted with the team in September 2004. Later, Bajenaru was a member of the World Series Championship Chicago White Sox team in 2005 and the Pacific coast League Champion Tucson Sidewinders in 2006. The athlete retired from professional baseball in 2008 and is now a pitching instructor with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

MARTY MONTIGEL

Sport: Tennis

Career: 1981-83

Montiguel, a Riverside native and graduate of Ramona High School, teamed up with Steve Cluse to become the Southland’s top ranked junior college doubles team. He was also ranked No. 2 in Southern California’s singles while at RCC. Subsequently earning a scholarship to Texas Tech University, Montigel helped the program to a 16-15 overall record in 1985. After graduating from college he continued to play in open tournaments, achieving a top 20 ranking in men’s singles open. Monigel has been teaching tennis for 30 years, he served as the tennis director at the Riverside Tennis Center from 1991-2009. He has trained various athletes, including top ranked junior and adult tennis players who have received scholarships to Cal Poly Pomona, San Luis Obispo, Penn State and USC. He now teaches tennis as the head tennis professional at the Victoria Country Club where he also runs the club’s tennis program as the director of tennis. Montigel has continued running the Gas Pump Antique Store that his parents opened in 1982. He also continues to give back to the community by sponsoring the local Romana High School players with lessons and hosting a fundraiser for the last seven years that benefits the RCC men and women’s tennis teams.

SAM KNIGHT SR. and BLANCHE KNIGHT

Sport: Basketball and Cheerleading

Career: 1962-64

Sam Knight, Sr. and Blanche Knight are set to receive the Bengal Award. Knight Sr. was recruited by Coach Jerry Tarkanian to play basketball for the Tigers. During his two years with the team, the Tigers went to the state championships both times, finishing their 1963-64 season with a 35-0 record. That same season he was named the “Most Inspirational” player. It was with the Tigers that Knight Sr. met his wife, Blanche, who served on the cheer and dance team. They have been married for 47 years and have raised five children, according to the Riverside sport hall of fame website. In 2012 Knight Sr. was inducted into the Riverside Sport Hall of Fame along with his son Sam Knight Jr. Blanche and Knight Sr. have continued their participation with RCC through the Tiger Backers.

RICHARD RAMIREZ

Sport: Football and Baseball

Ramirez was part of two championship football teams and served as the team captain his sophomore season. While he played for the RCC baseball team he went on to attend the University of New Mexico on a football scholarship. After graduating, he returned to RCC and began coaching in 1964. His career in RCC administration began when he became the vice president of student services. Ramirez spent 14 of his 39 years in education at RCC. Ramirez who is scheduled to be receiving the President’s Award attended Central Middle School, located across Magnolia from RCC,  before attending Poly High School where he played baseball for the Bears. Today, he serves with the Riverside Hospice Companion, the Poly High School Honor Walk, Ben Hammerschmidt Scholarship committee, and the board of directors at Parkview Hospital, where he has served for the past 11 years.

Others that will be honored for their role in the athletic department history are Bill Mulligan, and Bill Mulligan Jr.

BILL MULLIGAN

Position: Men’s basketball head coach

Career: 1966-75

Bill Mulligan can certainly be called one of the “greats” for his coaching career at RCC, Saddleback College and later University of California, Irvine. Mulligan had a winning percentage of .661, with an overall record of 189 wins to 97 losses. His aptitude for the job ranked him third as a coach with most wins. After his career in the community colleges, Mulligan worked 11 seasons at UCI, and was named the Orange County “Sportsman of the Year” in 1982. Mulligan came out of retirement in 1992 to lead Inland Valley College’s brand new program, which he served for 11 years. He died in January 2010 at the age of 79.

BILLY MULLIGAN JR.

Position: Co-sports information coordinator, journalism assistant for Viewpoints and reporter for Viewpoints.

Last but certainly not least is Bill Mulligan Jr. Despite being born with cerebral palsy, he found a niche reporting for Viewpoints the RCC newspaper. Mulligan’s interest for RCC athletics began when his father was named men’s basketball head coach, according to the RCC website. He reported on the Tigers’ athletic program for 18 years. After earning a degree from Cal State Fullerton in communications Mulligan became the journalism assistant for Viewpoints. In 1985 former president of the college, Charles A. Kane, hired him as the co-sports information coordinator with Chris Foster. Foster is now a sports writer for the LA Times. Mulligan is set to be receiving the Contributor Award. Today, Mulligan resides in San Clemente, where he follows his brothers’ coaching exploits at Capo Valley High School and San Clemente High School. He continues to write, working on a family notebook and other projects, according to the RCC website.

The Hall of fame ceremony is scheduled to take place Oct. 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the Mission Inn’s Music Room.