By Zach Cavanagh
San Clemente athletes once again soared on local, national and international stages striving for and capturing championship gold in several disciplines.
Here is a look back at some of the memorable San Clemente sports moments of 2022:
Hailey Langland Qualifies for Second Winter Olympics
The San Clemente snowboarder was named to the United States Olympic women’s big air and slopestyle team at the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain. The 21-year-old made the finals in both events at the Beijing Games in February, but she did not place.
SCHS Boys Wrestling Wins Third Straight CIF-SS Championship
Top-seeded Tritons dominated Victor Valley by winning 10 of 14 matches to win the Division 3 dual meet title. San Clemente would go on to send five wrestlers from the boys and girls programs to the state meet.
Marc Popovich Steps Down as SCHS Boys Basketball Coach After 15 Seasons
Popovich, a 1998 San Clemente graduate, compiled a 227-166 record in 15 seasons with the Tritons, including five league championships and 11 consecutive playoff appearances. Assistant coach Landon Pluimer moved into the head coach role.
Caroline Hawkes Wins Double County Gold for Second Straight Season
The San Clemente senior was named the sprinter of the meet at her second consecutive Orange County Championships with back-to-back county titles in the 200- and 400-meter sprints, including a school-record in the 400.
Andre Pallante Makes MLB Debut
Pallante, a 2016 San Clemente graduate, was one of two Tritons on MLB Opening Day rosters, and the right-handed pitcher made his debut with the St. Louis Cardinals. Kolby Allard was on the Opening Day roster for the Texas Rangers.
McKnight, Cumin Baksic, Springman Named to SC Sports Wall of Fame
Mater Dei boys basketball coach Gary McKnighte, all-around athlete Brandi Cumin Baksic and youth sports pioneer John Springman were named the 25th, 26th and 27th honorees for the San Clemente Sports Wall of Fame. The trio were officially inducted at the eighth annual ceremony in May.
Caroline Hawkes Finishes Fourth at State Track Championships
The San Clemente senior claimed one of the top-six medals in her final run as a Triton in the girls 400-meter final at the CIF State Track & Field Championships in Clovis. Hawkes won Sea View League titles in the 200-meter and 400-meter races and also finished fourth in the 400 at the CIF-SS Division 1 Finals.
Noah Sech, Madelyn Phillips Swim at State Finals
The two San Clemente juniors each qualified for the state finals in one event. Phillips was the first Triton girls swimmer to qualify for state and swam in the 100-yard breaststroke consolation finals. Sech swam in the 200-yard individual medley consolation finals.
Pro Pickleball Orange County Cup Draws Crowd of Thousands
More than 4,000 spectators and many more live viewers on the Tennis Channel took in high-level pickleball play at Life Time Rancho San Clemente for the Professional Pickleball Association’s Orange County Cup. The four-day event saw some of the sport’s top-ranked players compete.
Ocean Festival Returns for 45th Edition
After a three-year hiatus, athletes swam, ran, paddled and surfed next to the San Clemente Pier as the Ocean Festival returned for its 45th year. The festival welcomed an estimated 35,000 attendees to take part in and view the numerous competitions and entertainment.
SCHS Football Showcases Offense in First Two Games
The San Clemente football team put forth tremendous offensive performances in its opening wins at Oceanside, 48-7, and at home over Torrey Pines, 28-17. Broderick Redden threw four touchdown passes, including three to Thomas Hartanov, at Oceanside, and Blake Allen ran for more than 100 yards in both games with three total touchdowns.
SCHS Boys Cross Country Opens Historic Season with Big Wins
The San Clemente boys cross country team began its season in Hawaii and placed two runners in the top three and three in the top 10 to take the Iolani Invitational. The Tritons returned to the mainland and dominated the Dana Hills Invitational with another three top-10 finishers. It was a sign of things to come.
Legendary SCHS Wrestling Coach Mark Calentino Retires after 32 Years
Calentino won a combined six CIF-SS championships in charge of the San Clemente boys wrestling program, including three tournament titles and three dual meet titles. The Tritons won 18 league championships and put together a 426-98-2 dual meet record.
SCHS Boys Cross Country Wins Second Straight County Title
Senior Juan Chantaca won the individual title by just 0.4 seconds to pace the Tritons to their second consecutive Orange County Championship title. The Tritons placed three runners in the top four and all five scorers in the top 15.
SCHS Boys Water Polo Falls in CIF-SS Final
The San Clemente boys water polo team played in its fifth CIF-SS championship game and its first since 2019, but the Tritons couldn’t find their second championship. San Clemente also advanced to the Regional semifinals.
SCHS Boys Cross Country Wins First CIF-SS Title, Finishes Second at State
The San Clemente runners battled their way to hold off a challenge from Great Oak and win the program’s first CIF-SS Championship in the Division 1 Final. In Fresno, Great Oak reversed the story and edged out San Clemente for the State Championship.
Lauren Brzykcy Wins NCAA Soccer Title with UCLA
The UCLA Bruins women’s soccer team was backstopped by San Clemente graduate Lauren Brzykcy to win the program’s first NCAA Division 1 championship. Brzykcy made five saves as UCLA made a comeback in the final 10 minutes and won in double-overtime.
SCHS Boys Cross Country Finishes Seventh at Nationals
San Clemente ran at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon for the first time and finished in the top third of the national field. Four Tritons placed in the top 100 to push San Clemente into seventh.