By Zach Cavanagh
In a year like none before it, San Clemente still found a way to make headlines in the world of sports in the small early window it had and well after the stadiums and gyms had closed.
Here is a look back at some of the memorable San Clemente sports moments of 2020:
SCHS Boys Soccer, Girls Basketball Earn No. 1 Rankings
Coming out of 2019 holiday tournaments, San Clemente boys soccer maintained its customary No. 1 spot in the CIF-SS rankings, and the Tritons girls basketball also ascended to No. 1. Boys soccer posted 20 shutouts in 26 games, and girls basketball went on to a deep run.
SCHS Boys Wrestling Wins CIF-SS Dual Meet Title
The storied San Clemente wrestling program pinned down a championship first with the program’s first CIF-SS Dual Meet championship. The Tritons beat Santa Monica, Camarillo, Mayfair and Beverly Hills.
SCHS Showcases 25 Athletes on Signing Day
The Tritons had 25 student-athletes make college choices on National Signing Day, including their first-ever cheerleader signee. Ryan Leff signed on for STUNT, or competitive sport cheer, at Maryville in St. Louis.
SCHS Girls Basketball Reaches CIF-SS Title Game
San Clemente girls basketball fought back in the second half but ultimately fell short in the CIF-SS Division 2A championship game, their first CIF-SS title game appearance since 2007. The Tritons would go on to reach the state regional semifinals.
SCHS Girls Water Polo Wins First Regional Title
San Clemente girls water polo edged out a pair of one-goal wins to capture its first CIF Southern California Regional championship, just one week after claiming its second straight CIF-SS Division 2 runner-up plaque.
Goldstone Wins 500th Match
SCHS boys volleyball coach Ken Goldstone’s 21st season was cut well short, but it was long enough for him to hit the career milestone of 500 wins as the Tritons competed at the Best of the West Tournament in Poway.
CUSD Athletics, Youth Sports Suspend Activities
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Capistrano Unified School District canceled all athletic events and competitions on March 12 through spring break, and nearly all youth sports organizations suspended activities earlier or immediately thereafter.
CIF Cancels Spring Sports Championships
The CIF State office and CIF-SS canceled the section, region and state playoffs for spring sports. The move, along with CUSD schools closing indefinitely, brought an end to any hopes of resuming and finishing the spring sports season.
Sears Transfers to Boise State from USC
Jack Sears, the 2016 CIF-SS and State champion SCHS quarterback and former USC signal-caller, found his new home as a graduate transfer to Boise State. Sears retained two years of college eligibility after graduating from USC last December.
Christian Hosea scored 128 goals for the Tritons boys water polo team. Preston Rex led the Tritons football team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Hana Catsimanes won a CIF-SS championship in girls cross country. Ella Gardiner was an impact player in girls volleyball and basketball.
Youth, High School Sports Put on Hold Again
After Orange County put out guidance allowing youth sports to resume in June, many programs started practices, and CUSD was set to open camps on July 6. However, CUSD canceled those plans ahead of July 7, when the state counteracted the county and confirmed earlier guidance that youth sports were not yet permitted to return.
CIF Pushes Back Start of School Sports to December
CIF State reorganized its sports calendar and scheduled fall sports to begin in December, starting with boys volleyball games on Dec. 12 and football practices on Dec. 14. In December, the start of school sports was delayed until January and fall sports regional and state championships were canceled.
CUSD Athletic Programs Begin Conditioning Camps
After finally receiving state guidance on Aug. 3, CUSD athletic programs began conditioning camps with small groups and many limitations in Phase 1. Restrictions eased and allowed for larger groups and varied workouts and drills in Phase 2 in late September and Phase 3 in late October.
SC Native Wins Sheckler Skate Event in SC
San Clemente native Taylor Kirby won a first of its kind online video skateboard contest, Red Bull Solus, hosted by fellow San Clemente native and skateboarding legend Ryan Sheckler at Sheckler’s private SC Sandlot skatepark.
SCHS Alumni Excel in College Football Season
For BYU, Isaac Rex caught 32 passes for 333 yards and 10 touchdowns in the regular season. For Boise State, defensive captain Riley Whimpey racked up six sacks and 61 tackles, and Jack Sears threw three TDs in his only start of the season. For Utah, Cole Fotheringham caught four passes for 52 yards.
Ten SCHS Athletes Commit to Colleges on Fall Signing Day
Noah Keelin, Dane Hillis, Cade Martin, Kobe Kiley, Alex Higginson, Stella Copeland, Skyler Ruffner, Kylie Pitzak, Kelsie Yamano and Hannah Hillis all signed on at their choice colleges and universities. SCHS added another four signees (James Bohls, Cole Batson, Bentley Redden and Keegan Even) on football’s early signing day in December.
State Provides Guidance Tied to Tier System
The state finally delivered guidelines for youth and high school sports tied to the four-tiered, color-coded coronavirus monitoring system. Low-contact sports including cross country and baseball could return in the purple or red higher-risk tiers, but high-contact or indoor sports including football and basketball couldn’t return until the orange or yellow lower-risk tiers.