To go with overall honoree Colin Sahlman, we have more special athletes selected among boys for juniors, sophomores, freshmen and those from divisions (D1, D3, D4 and D5) for the 2021-22 school year. One of our divisional winners played four sports while two of them stood out in three. We have a sophomore who did something too hard to overlook to pin down his honor and we have a freshman who is the younger brother of a current UCLA softball star.
For the full story on our 2021-22 Boys State Athlete of the Year,
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(Erik Boal also did the writeup for our Junior Athlete of the Year.)
Congratulations to the following additional boys for being selected as a 2021-22 Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Year:
JUNIOR OF THE YEAR (Class of 2023)
Rodrick Pleasant (Serra, Gardena)
Already the fastest 10th-grader in California prep history at both 100 and 200 meters to earn himself State Sophomore Athlete of the Year honors in 2021, Pleasant had much bigger aspirations this year when it came to his performances on the track, including being recognized as one of the elite sprinters in the country.
Although he didn’t have the opportunity to earn a rematch against former Mater Dei standout and 2020-21 Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Year Domani Jackson following a second-place finish last season at the California Track and Field Championships due to the USC-bound defensive back graduating early, Pleasant still managed to earn his spot in the record books May 28 by sweeping both the 100 and 200 state titles with wind-aided victories at Veterans Memorial Stadium at Clovis Buchanan High.
Pleasant triumphed in the 100 in 10.30 seconds and the 200 in 20.56 to become the first Serra athlete to win both titles in the same year, along with contributing to a runner-up effort in the 4×100 relay final in 41.50, as the Cavaliers took third overall with 28 points.
After Jackson matched the legendary 10.25-second race achieved by Hawthorne star Henry Thomas from 1985 with his performance last year at the state showcase event at Arcadia High, Pleasant rebounded from a runner-up effort in 10.32 by using that as his motivation all season in the quest to produce the greatest wind-legal mark in California prep history.
Following a wind-aided 10.16 performance May 14 at the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 championship race at Moorpark High, Pleasant returned to the same track a week later and prevailed at the CIF- Southern Section Masters meet in a wind-legal 10.14 to eclipse the standard established by Thomas and Jackson.
Only 2017 state 100 champion Javelin Guidry of Vista Murrieta – a defensive back for the New York Jets following his collegiate career at Utah – has run a faster time than Pleasant under all conditions with his wind-aided 10.13 effort to capture the title at Clovis Buchanan.
Pleasant’s 100 performance was equal to No. 5 nationally this year and matched the No. 12 competitor in U.S. prep history. Pleasant also elevated to the No. 2 all-time 200 performer in California after running 20.40 at the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 final, trailing only the 2016 mark of 20.14 achieved by Vista Murrieta graduate Michael Norman, a multiple-time NCAA Division 1 champion at USC and the reigning 400-meter gold medalist at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon.
Pleasant ranked second among high school 200 competitors in the country this season and ascended to No. 18 all-time among U.S. prep athletes.
Despite being limited during the football season as a result of injuries, Pleasant remains one of the top national prospects in his class, currently the No. 9 overall recruit in California and the 12th-ranked defensive back in the country by 247Sports. He contributed 180 all-purpose yards, three touchdowns, 15 tackles and eight pass deflections for the Cavaliers (11-4), who won the state 1-A bowl game, 21-16, against Bakersfield Liberty. He also played on the varsity as a sophomore where the injuries didn’t happen and he was named to the all-state sophomore team.
Serra is a school with a great tradition of track-football athletes. If Rodrick doesn’t graduate early and has a senior year on the track to go with what he does during the upcoming football season, he’s the favorite to join Marqise Lee (2011) and Robert Woods (2010) as an overall State Boys Athlete of the Year. Another former State Junior Athlete of the Year from Serra has been Adoree’ Jackson from 2013. He was like Pleasant in football (mostly DB) but his big event in track was the long jump, not sprinting. Rodrick already is in their class for high school and obviously hopes to go on the same path to the NFL.
More Junior Athletes of Honor (Class of 2023)
Matthias Brown (Sunny Hills, Fullerton) Football, Soccer
Gavin Grahovac (Villa Park) Baseball
Kai Graves-Blanks (Upland) Track
Ethan Harrington (Palo Alto) Swimming
Jamar “JJ” Howard (Mission Prep, San Luis Obispo) Football, Basketball
Jake Jackson (Madison, San Diego) Football, Basketball, Baseball
Brandon Knight (Foothill, Pleasanton) Golf
Jax Leatherwood (Scripps Ranch, San Diego) Football, Basketball, Volleyball
Eric Lee (Sunny Hills, Fullerton) Golf
Makai Lemon (Los Alamitos) Football
Ben Liechty (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach) Water Polo
Rex Maurer (Loyola, Los Angeles) Swimming
Jared McCain (Centennial, Corona) Basketball
Leo Young (Newbury Park) Cross Country, Track
Lex Young (Newbury Park) Cross Country, Track
SOPHOMORE OF THE YEAR (CLASS of 2024)
Daniel Herrera (Palm Desert)
It was going to take something extremely impressive for Mater Dei of Santa Ana QB Elijah Brown not to follow up being freshman of the year for 2020-21 even though Elijah doesn’t participate in another sport.
While Brown quarterbacked the Monarchs to an unbeaten, national title season, Herrera is a combo athlete for football and wrestling and was extremely impressive (especially on the mat).
As a sophomore, Herrera not only won the state heavyweight (285 pounds) title at the CIF state finals in Bakersfield, but he pinned all five of his opponents and he was undefeated for the entire season. Herrera did that in the state final against Stockton Stagg’s Sam Hinojosa. Two of his earlier five pins came quickly in just 57 and 37 seconds, respectively.
The last sophomore to win a CIF state title in the heaviest class was Seth Nevills of Clovis in 2016. Seth did not win all of his matches by pin. Seth’s older brother, Nick, who was the State Boys Athlete of the Year for 2013-14 as a dominant wrestler who also played football, didn’t win the 285-pound division as a sophomore (he was third). Nick Nevills did pin everybody when he was a senior.
Herrera also is similar to the Nevills brothers since he also plays football. In his case, Daniel came up with 40 tackles and seven sacks as a sophomore leading the defensive line at Palm Desert. He also looks like he could play in the offensive line. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Herrera already has been named Boys Athlete of the Year by the Palm Springs Desert-Sun. He has no football recruiting profile, but with his size and his rather obvious ability to throw people around, it’s easy to see that any colleges with a wrestling program that also have football would be all over him very soon.
This is the first time that someone from the Palm Springs area has ever been named State Sophomore Athlete of the Year.
More Sophomore Athletes of Honor
Elijah Brown (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Football
Peter Castillo (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach) Water Polo
Jayden Dumdumaya (De La Salle, Concord) Golf
Victor Loiola (Mira Costa, Manhattan Beach) Volleyball
Tyler Patrick (Clovis West, Fresno) Football, Baseball
Jamari Phillips (Modesto Christian) Basketball, Football
Bryce Rainer (Harvard-Westlake, Studio City) Baseball
Marshel Sanders (Clovis West, Fresno) Football, Basketball
Aden Valencia (Sobrato, Morgan Hill) Wrestling
Jordan Washington (Jordan, Long Beach) Football, Track*
*Now attending different school.
(Cathedral Catholic, San Diego)
This is a football player we actually met after one of Cathedral Catholic’s games last season. We didn’t even know at first it was a freshman we were talking to. We just saw the last name and wanted to be sure if Madden was related to former Cathedral Catholic and current UCLA softball standout Megan Faraimo. Yep, he’s her younger brother.
Now, fast forward almost a year later, and Madden has come out on top in a close race to be the 2021-22 State Freshman Athlete of the Year.
Faraimo played well as a freshman on the Cathedral Catholic varsity football team for the rest of the season. It was a team that won the CIF D1-AA state title with a victory over Folsom and Madden was considered one of the top freshmen players in the state. He was ranked as the No. 1 “athlete” in the class by the Daygo Football website and he has since garnered D1 offers (mostly to play as a safety) from USC, Cal and Washington.
But the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder also impressed in baseball. Keeping in mind that Cathedral Catholic also plays at a very high level in baseball (has had the No. 1 pick in the MLB Draft not that long ago), Faraimo was on the varsity in that sport as well. He hit at a near .300 clip (.293 to be exact) plus he had three homers, five doubles and 15 RBI for a squad that finished 20-6.
If you’re wondering, Megan Faraimo was the State Girls Athlete of the Year for juniors for the 2016-17 school year. Her second sport was volleyball. The family name should be in good shape for a few more years.
More Frosh Athletes of Honor
Jackson Cryst (Millikan, Long Beach) Basketball, Volleyball
Brady Ebel (Etiwanda) Baseball
Cooper Han (Menlo School, Atherton) Tennis
McKay Madsen (Clovis North, Fresno) Football, Track
Weston Port (San Juan Hills, SJ Capistrano) Football, Basketball
Nicholas Sahakian (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) Wrestling
Owen Schoner (Camarillo) Soccer
Tounde Yessoufou (St. Joseph, Santa Maria) Basketball
Colin Salman (Newbury Park) Sr.
For purposes of these honors, Newbury Park for cross country clearly can be considered D1 so that’s where our overall State Athlete of the Year falls for the divisional listings.
More D1 Senior Athletes of Honor
Donovan Dent (Centennial, Corona) Basketball
Grant Gray (Norco) Football, Baseball
Nathan Johnson (Clovis) Football, Track
Rayshon Luke (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) Football, Track
Dillon Klein (Loyola, Los Angeles) Volleyball
Tetairoa McMillan (Servite, Anaheim) Football
Cade Moran (Murrieta Mesa, Murrieta) Football, Track
Caden Rodgers (Buchanan, Clovis) Football, Wrestling
Eddie Villeda (Servite, Anaheim) Soccer
Austin Overn (Foothill, Tustin) Sr.
An elite three-sport athlete (football, baseball, track), Overn can come into the D2 category because Foothill won the D2 Southern California championship in boys hoops. And while we couldn’t put him ahead of Colin Sahlman for the overall, Austin just had to get one of the divisional honors.
We first got a glimpse of Overn’s athleticism away from the baseball field by a video of him doing high-flying dunks on a basketball court. And while Foothill has a strong basketball program, he didn’t play that sport this year for the Knights. What he did do was football in the fall and track at the same time as baseball in the spring.
A USC recruit in baseball known for acrobatic catches in the outfield, Overn was a key player on a Foothill team that was in the state top 25 for many weeks and played in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section D1 playoffs. Overn had a home run and a huge catch in a 5-4 win over Santa Margarita in the second-round. He finished with a .316 batting average, led the team in stolen bases with 23 and he came up with a team-leading five triples.
Scrambling from one sport to the other in the spring, Austin’s best event in track was the 100 meter dash. He had a 10.49 clocking at the Trabuco Hills Invitational, which was the third-fastest wind-legal time in Orange County. He would later finish third at the CIFSS D3 final with a wind-aided mark of 10.45. Overn also had a best mark in the long jump of more than 23 feet (23-1).
Overn’s football accomplishments were perhaps most eye-opening. After not playing as a sophomore or junior, Overn decided to create some additional memories as a senior. He sure did. In helping Foothill to a 10-2 record, he ranked among the state leaders with 68 catches for 1,407 yards and 20 TDs. Overn also was named first team All-Orange County, which remember is the same county as all of those great receivers from schools like Mater Dei, Mission Viejo, Servite, Los Alamitos and many more.
Overn already has been named as the Orange County Register Male Athlete of the Year. He now adds a statewide honor for what did in all of those sports and he is Foothill’s first-ever state athlete of the year in any category on the boys side.
More D2 Senior Athletes of Honor
Drew Barrett (Trabuco Hills, Mission Viejo) Football, Baseball
T.J. Costello (Dublin) Football, Basketball, Baseball
Jake East (Agoura, Agoura Hills) Football, Lacrosse
Malcolm Moore (McClatchy, Sacramento) Baseball
Nick Pasquarella (Alta Loma) Soccer, Football
Jadyn Marshall (St. Mary’s, Stockton) Sr.
From an enrollment standpoint, St. Mary’s can always go as a D3 for these honors and because Jadyn is someone who actually had a chance to be the overall State Athlete of the Year on the boys side until the last month of the track season, we went ahead with it for this year. The other reason it made sense for Jadyn to be D3 is that just two years ago in 2020 it was Jadyn’s older brother, Jamar, who was our D3 State Boys Athlete of the Year. They’ll now always be listed almost next to each other in the all-time state athlete of the year lists.
Both Marshall brothers starred in three sports during their years at St. Mary’s. Who knows how it all could have ended up had Jadyn not suffered a hamstring injury late in the track season that prevented him from qualifying for the CIF state championships. At the time, he had the fastest time in the nation in the 110-meter high hurdles and it was projected that Jadyn was going to be a CIF state champ in both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdle events.
The year began for Marshall as one of the state’s most highly regarded wide receivers in football. St. Mary’s didn’t throw it as much, but the coaches went Deebo Samuel style and handed the ball off to Jadyn on running plays. He finished up his season in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 semifinals (lost to Rocklin on a last-second FG) with 87 carries for 982 yards rushing and 11 TDs plus 29 catches for 563 yards and five TDs. He also had a punt return TD and a kickoff return score. As a sophomore, Marshall motored for 1,128 yards on 68 catches and caught nine for TDs.
With a commitment to UCLA for football in hand, the two-time all-state multi-purpose/wide receiver could have shut it down for the rest of his senior year. He didn’t. Before going out for track, Jadyn continued to play for the Rams in basketball. Just like his brother, they were three-year varsity standouts, showing off their speed as defenders and their jumping ability to get rebounds. Marshall led St. Mary’s in scoring with 9.8 ppg and had 7.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He had 26 points in a loss to eventual CIF Open Division finalist Modesto Christian and he had 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists when the Rams ousted unbeaten Ponderosa of Shingle Springs in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D2 playoffs.
We noticed Jamar at a St. Mary’s football game last season and then saw the souped up Camaro in the parking lot with the Arizona State logo in huge colors (which is where Jamar is going to college). We’ll be curious if there is now a similar car emblazoned with the UCLA logo. The one same thing they already do have: they’re both State Athlete of the Year.
More D3 Senior Athletes of Honor
Dylan Lawson (Sunny Hills, Fullerton) Football, Basketball
Griffen Price (Sacred Heart Prep, Atherton) Water Polo
Ray-John Spears (Sacred Heart Cathedral, S.F.) Football, Basketball
Max Sloat (Sacred Heart Prep, Atherton) Soccer, Lacrosse
Noah Thomas (Pleasant Valley, Chico) Football, Basketball
Evan Johnson (Stevenson, Pebble Beach) Sr.
The headline for when Johnson was recently named as the Boys Athlete of the Year by the Monterey County Herald included the words “unparalleled legacy,” which for him was perfect. Evan’s local legacy now includes some statewide love.
In gaining the first-ever state athlete of the year selection for Stevenson, Johnson also has to get extra props for being a four-sport standout.
The son of former NFL wide receiver Ron Johnson is by nature a football player first. He caught 34 passes for 737 yards and 14 TDs last season and ended his career with 23 TD catches. The Pirates only got to play seven games (still dealing with some COVID) in a 4-3 season, which prevented too many post-season honors. Still, he had the speed to interest many colleges and he eventually signed with BYU.
Johnson didn’t slow down at all after getting that scholarship. In basketball, he started and averaged 11.6 ppg with 6.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He also had a season high of 21 points. Johnson then did the double-dip in the spring at the same time with track and baseball. And what a spring it was. In baseball, Evan swung away for a .522 average with 21 RBI. It was the finish of the track season, though, that was the difference for this honor. Johnson first set a county record in the 100 at 10.41 seconds. Next up was a sweep of the CIF Central Coast Section titles in the 100 and 200. Then came the CIF state championships. Johnson didn’t make it to the final in the 200, but in the 100 he shined by not just making it to the final (which State Junior Athlete of the Year Rodrick Pleasant won) but finishing fourth with a mark of 10.48 seconds.
More D4 Senior Athletes of Honor
Sergio Beltran (Menlo School, Atherton) Football, Lacrosse
Colby Eckhart (Argonaut, Jackson) Football, Basketball, Baseball, Track
Aaron Martinez (LeGrand) Football, Baseball
Camden McWright (St. Genevieve, Panorama City) Football, Track
Luke Potter (Classical Academy, Escondido) Golf
Leighton Tarke (Sutter) Football, Soccer, Baseball
Theo Snoey (Head-Royce, Oakland) Sr.
Here’s a unique combination that pushed Snoey to the top of this category and in the process he has snagged the first-ever athlete of the year honor out of Head-Royce.
Thanks to our friends at SportStars Magazine, Snoey’s accomplishments mainly in the sport of volleyball and also as a goalie in soccer were the difference. SportStars placed Theo at No. 4 in the Bay Area in its countdown of the most outstanding athletes (top 75 boys and girls) for the school year.
The volleyball part of it shows that Snoey is one of the best prospects in the nation. The 6-foot-8 blaster who is starting his freshman season at Stanford helped Head-Royce go 18-1 in the recent spring high school season. He was on Volleyball Magazine’s prestigious FAB 50 and got a special top 5 designation as well. He also has been named this summer to the USA U-21 National Training Team.
As a soccer goalie last fall, Snoey went side to side inside a net as well as he goes up and over a net. He had seven goals allowed during the season and was in goal for the duration of his team’s lone shutout playoff win.
More D5 Senior Athletes of Honor
Dante Antonini (St. Vincent de Paul, Petaluma) Football, Basketball
Ellis Delvecchio (Thacher, Ojai) Track
Nick Dugan (St. Bernard, Eureka) Baseball
Zach Mercado (Vacaville Christian) Football, Wrestling
Ryan Osborne (Fall River, McArthur) Football, Basketball, Baseball
Kenan Pala (Francis Parker, San Diego) Cross Country, Track
Brady Webb (Durham) Football, Basketball