Jamey Wright remembers it like it was yesterday.
Christi Raycraft was about 12 years old, and she was in a pool playing basketball with a group of boys.
“She got the ball, and all these guys were trying to grab it from her, and she was clutching the ball like Shaquille O’Neal,” Wright said. “She starts throwing elbows back and forth, and suddenly you see this 12-year-old turn into this demon. I went up to her and I said, ‘I have a sport for you.'”
The sport was water polo, and the rest is history.
Raycraft would go on to star at UC Davis for Wright, the women’s head coach, and she would have a senior year for the record books.
The Davis native paced the team this season with 53 goals and a school-record 86 ejections drawn while tallying 42 steals. She led the team to a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Division I Championships, earning first-team all-tournament accolades in the process.
“This was the most successful season we’ve had as a program at the varsity level, and she was the best player, so you could make a pretty good case that she may be the best all-around player that we’ve had,” Wright said. “She does pretty much everything you need her to do, and that’s the sign of a great player.”
Raycraft netted six hat tricks on the season, two of which came in the biggest games of the year: the Western Water Polo Association title game against Loyola Marymount and the first round of the NCAA Championships against San Diego State.
Along with leading the Aggies on offense, she also helped set the tone on defense, tallying a team-high 22 field blocks for the year
The list of accolades for senior Aggies backstop Jake Jefferies reads just as diverse as his immense skill set: Big West Conference Co-Player of the Year, Louisville Slugger All-American, semifinalist for the Johnny Bench and Golden Spikes Awards and co-recipient of the athletic department’s Colby E. “Babe” Slater Award for male athlete of the year.
“Just add it to the list,” said head coach Rex Peters of the California Aggie honor. “He’s had a great year. When we recruited him to Davis, we thought he had the skills and ability to be a great player, but he’s surpassed that.”
In addition to his personal accomplishments this season, Jefferies also led the Aggies to the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament in the program’s first year of D-I postseason eligibility.
“What he’s done for us this season is tremendous,” Peters said. “He just had a breakthrough year.”
A product of Buhach Colony High School in Merced, Jefferies’ numbers speak for themselves. In addition to handling a pitching staff that ranked third in the Big West in both ERA and fewest walks allowed, Jefferies compiled a .396/.540/.453 vital line with a league-best 93 hits and team-high 54 RBI. The catcher also threw out nearly 40 percent of would-be base stealers.
“It’s not only his offensive numbers — look at the position he’s playing,” Peters said. “It’s a demanding defensive position where it’s difficult enough just to be good defensively. But for him to put up those offensive numbers on top of that is really impressive.”