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By Zach Cavanagh
As another year comes to a close, it was another trip around the sun during which San Clemente’s otherworldly athletic talents were showcased on stages big, small and in between.
Here is a look back at some of the best San Clemente sports moments of 2019:
Ella Gardiner Breaks 1,000-Point Career Plateau
San Clemente then-junior, now-senior Ella Gardiner became just the eighth Triton girls basketball player to score 1,000 career points for the program in a win over Tesoro, 50-25. Gardiner was the first to hit the mark since Cassie Harberts in 2010.
SCHS Girls Water Polo Advances to CIF-SS Final
The San Clemente girls water polo team advanced to its first CIF-SS Final since 2015 with a tightly played 7-5 win over Santa Barbara in the Division 2 semifinals. The Tritons fell to Santa Margarita in the title game, 18-12, and earned runner-up honors.
SCHS Boys Soccer Completes First-Ever Treble
The San Clemente boys soccer team beat Cathedral in penalty kicks, 2-2 (4-3), to capture its second CIF SoCal Regional title. The Tritons also beat Cathedral for the CIF-SS championship, and with the additional league title, the program completed its first treble – a triple championship.
Beth Sanden Marks Yet Another World Record
San Clemente resident Beth Sanden set another handcycle world record by completing seven marathons in seven days in the Eastern Caribbean Challenge. Sanden added a fifth world record in September with the highest altitude marathon at the Khunjareb Pass Marathon in Pakistan.
SCHS Collects Four Spring League Titles
San Clemente earned league titles in boys volleyball, boys tennis, softball and boys lacrosse in the spring sports season. It was the ninth straight league title for boys tennis, while the boys volleyball, softball and boys lacrosse teams won tight races.
Sheri Crummer, Bob Nealy Inducted to Wall of Fame
United States national longboard champion Sheri Crummer and world masters water polo champion Bob Nealy were inducted to the San Clemente Sports Wall of Fame in the seventh annual induction ceremony at Vista Hermosa Sports Park. Crummer and Nealy are the 23rd and 24th inductees.
Hana Catsimanes Wins CIF-SS 3,200-Meter Title
San Clemente then-junior, now-senior Hana Catsimanes won the CIF-SS Division 1 title in the 3,200 meters in a time of 10:35.01 at El Camino College. Catsimanes was the first San Clemente champion since 2014 and the first Triton girls champion since 2009.
Andre Pallante, Tanner Brubaker Selected in MLB Draft
SCHS alumni and UC Irvine pitchers Andre Pallante and Tanner Brubaker were selected in the fourth and 11th round, respectively, in the 2019 MLB Draft. Pallante was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals, and Brubaker was selected by the Minnesota Twins.
Blake Bowen Named State Player of the Year
San Clemente senior Blake Bowen was selected as the 2019 Gatorade California Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Bowen scored 18 goals and added 15 assists in the Tritons’ triple championship season. Bowen was the second straight Triton to win the award after Tristan Weber.
Kolby Allard Traded to Texas Rangers
SCHS alumnus Kolby Allard was traded from the Atlanta Braves to the Texas Rangers ahead of the MLB trade deadline, nearly one year after he had won his MLB debut. Allard stayed up with the Rangers and went 4-2 in nine starts with a 4.96 ERA.
Jack Sears Announces Transfer from USC
SCHS alumnus Jack Sears left the USC football team and entered the NCAA transfer portal. Sears earned his degree from USC, and in December, Sears committed to San Diego State as a graduate transfer with two years of eligibility remaining.
Mark McElroy Sets Saddleback College Wins Mark
Saddleback College football coach Mark McElroy, who graduated from SCHS in 1978 and coached the Tritons for seven seasons in the ‘90s, became the winningest coach in Gauchos history with his 150th victory in Saddleback’s season opener. McElroy is 158-74 in 21 seasons at Saddleback.
Kyle Murphy Selected in Inaugural XFL Draft
SCHS alumnus Kyle Murphy was selected by the DC Defenders with the eighth pick in the offensive lineman segment of the first XFL draft. Murphy played college football at Stanford before stints with the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams.
SCHS Boys Water Polo Advances to CIF-SS Final
The San Clemente boys water polo team defeated Mira Costa, 11-5, in the Division 2 semifinals to advance to the program’s first CIF-SS Final since its only CIF-SS championship in 1991. In the final, the Tritons were edged in the final seconds by Foothill, 13-12.
SCHS Football Forfeits Season after Transfer Violation
The San Clemente football team was removed from the CIF-SS playoffs before its scheduled Division 2 semifinal and forfeited all of games from the 2019 season after a player was ruled ineligible due to pre-enrollment contact. The player’s CIF-SS appeal and attempt to overturn the ruling in court were denied.
Hana Catsimanes Wins CIF-SS Cross Country Title
San Clemente senior Hana Catsimanes claimed her top honor in a golden season with the CIF-SS Division 1 championship in a time of 17:21 in Riverside. Catsimanes won the Orange County Championships, Mt. SAC Invitational, Sea View League and CIF-SS preliminaries before capturing the CIF-SS title.
Three SCHS Football Players Sign to Colleges
Safety/receiver Preston Rex, receiver/cornerback Cian Smith and kicker Cole Thompson made their college choices on the first day of the three-day early signing period for football on Dec. 18. Rex signed with BYU, Smith signed with Drake University, and Thompson signed with Navy.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports.