This one is a no-brainer on many levels. Rodrick not only is moving up from being the State Sophomore and State Junior Athlete of the Year, but he was arguably even better than expected in football and track as a senior. He also joins an impressive list of State Athletes of the Year from the past who have come from Serra of Gardena.
For a look at all of the other boys from the 2022-23 school year to be selected as a winner from each category plus lists of other top overall athletes, CLICK HERE.
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Before Rodrick Pleasant developed into the top prep sprinter in California history and one of the elite two-sport athletes in the state, the Gardena Serra High standout had to first become the fastest competitor in his own family.
Dominic Davis (2011-15) and Diab Davis (2012-16), Pleasant’s older brothers, attended Mission Hills Alemany and also competed in both sports, achieving all-conditions performances of 10.39 and 10.43 seconds in the 100-meter dash, before attending USC and Cal, respectively.
Pleasant had already surpassed both of those marks by the time he was a junior, running a wind-legal 10.14 at the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet to set the California high school record, en route to becoming state champion last year in both the 100 and 200 meters.
During his senior year, after earning all-state first-team honors in the fall as a 5-foot-11, 180-pound defensive back for the Cavaliers and signing in February with University of Oregon, Pleasant didn’t rest on his laurels in the spring during his final track season.
Not only did he repeat as state 100 and 200 champion, becoming the first male athlete to achieve the feat since former Sherman Oaks Notre Dame star Khalfani Muhammad in 2012-13, but Pleasant produced the fastest all-conditions sprint performance in California by running a wind-aided 10.09 seconds at the CIF Southern Section Division 4 final at Moorpark High.
Following his recognition as California’s top sophomore in 2020-21 and the best junior in 2021-22, Pleasant capped a memorable career by being honored in 2022-23 as the Cal-Hi Sports State Boys Athlete of the Year.
“I’m just thankful for everything. It’s been an amazing opportunity,” Pleasant said. “It’s been fun and competitive in our family, but I finally got the crown.”
Pleasant followed former Santa Ana Mater Dei football and track star Domani Jackson, the previous state 100-meter record holder at 10.25, who was recognized by Cal-Hi Sports with the top award in 2020-21.
Muhammad earned back-to-back boys athlete of the year selections in 2011-12 and 2012-13, which followed former Serra High stars Robert Woods in 2009-10 and Marqise Lee in 2010-11. Lee actually played basketball in addition to football and track. NFL cornerback Adoree’ Jackson also won athlete of the year honors from Serra, but was never the overall honoree.
“It’s a tradition. I just wanted to uphold the standard,” Pleasant said. “It’s been amazing and I’m thankful to be able to run for Serra.”
Pleasant gained plenty of recognition across the country for his achievements on the track, winning the Nike Indoor Nationals 200-meter title in March in New York in 21.41. He also finished fourth in the 60-meter dash final in 6.82.
Pleasant captured the Nike Outdoor Nationals 100-meter championship June 16 by running a wind-legal 10.21 at his future home stadium at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. He also placed fourth in the 200 final in 21.17.
“Just running against great guys, that was the biggest thing,” Pleasant said. “The competition is fierce. I just wanted to have fun and enjoy it.”
Pleasant enjoyed his final state meet May 27 at Veterans Memorial Stadium at Clovis Buchanan High, clocking wind-legal marks of 10.20 in the 100 and 20.67 in the 200 to defend both championships.
Pleasant, who boasts a personal-best 20.40 in the 200 from last season, became the fourth sprinter in California high school history to win both state titles in consecutive years. He joined Los Angeles Cathedral’s Randall Carroll in 2008-09, Covina’s Remontay McClain in 2010-11 and Muhammad in 2012-13.
“It’s very rare to double,” Pleasant said. “I know how hard it is, and it’s a dream come true to be able to do that (twice). I’m excited about everything and to finish off my last high school (state) meet like that was amazing. It means a lot. I was just happy to be able to celebrate with my family.”
Granada Hills Charter also celebrated its first boys state track and field team title May 27 at Veterans Memorial Stadium, winning the 4×100-meter relay championship in 40.39, along with Utah football commit and all-state first-team running back Dijon Stanley earning a victory in the 400-meter final in 45.77 and finishing runner-up to Pleasant in the 200 in 20.95.
“(Rodrick) has been the guy for the past two years and he made all of us better,” Stanley said. “Seeing him win the 100 and 200 as a junior, it motivated me to train harder, because I wanted to experience that same feeling at state this year. He’s a great competitor and I’m glad we could all go out on top.”
Pleasant wasn’t able to have similar team success as Stanley during football season, as Granada Hills won the CIF L.A. City Section Division 1 championship and advanced to the state 4-AA final, before losing to Novato of San Marin. But Serra competed in the much tougher CIF Southern Section D2 playoffs. In Rodrick’s junior year (which saw him miss multiple games with injury), the Cavaliers won the CIF D1-A state title.
Pleasant’s biggest impact in football was significant as a defensive back/receiver/return specialist for Serra (7-5), accumulating 360 all-purpose yards and scoring seven touchdowns, in addition to recording 30 total tackles, four interceptions and seven pass deflections.
Pleasant enters the Ducks’ program as a four-star defensive back after being recognized as a top-100 football recruit nationally by 247Sports.com, ESPN.com and Rivals.com.
“I want to do something special there,” Pleasant said. “The relationships I’ve built, they’re very special. Coach (Dan) Lanning, coach Tosh (Lupoi), coach (Demetrice Martin), they’re doing something special up there with the program and everything they’ve got going on is really exciting.”
Pleasant knows there haven’t been many Oregon athletes over the years to compete at an elite level in football and track, the most notable being Devon Allen, a receiver for the Ducks from 2014-16, in addition to being a two-time NCAA Division 1 winner and a three-time U.S. champion in the 110-meter hurdles, along with representing the United States in the past two Olympics.
Allen is currently on the reserve/non-football injury list for the Philadelphia Eagles, but his career success in both sports continues to motivate Pleasant.
“He gives me hope,” Pleasant said. “I’ve talked to him and just learning how to manage things and making sure that I am doing everything the right way and staying on top of things and just getting after it, that was the biggest thing he emphasized. I know they support the two-sport athletes (at Oregon) and it’s going to be lovely. I feel good about it and I feel like my transition from track season to football season this year is going to be amazing and I can’t wait.”
ALL-TIME CAL-HI SPORTS
STATE BOYS ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)
2022-23 – Rodrick Pleasant, Garden Serra (football, track)
2021-22 – Colin Sahlman, Newbury Park (cross country, track)
2020-21 – Domani Jackson, Santa Ana Mater Dei (football, track)
2019-20 – Nico Young, Newbury Park (cross country, track)
2018-19 – Kenan Christon, San Diego Madison (football, track)
2017-18 – Kazmeir Allen, Tulare (football, track)
2016-17 – Javelin Guidry, Murrieta Vista Murrieta (football, track)
2015-16 – Michael Norman, Murrieta Vista Murrieta (track)
2014-15 – T.J. DeFalco, Huntington Beach (volleyball)
2013-14 – Nick Nevills, Clovis (football, wrestling)
2012-13 – Khalfani Muhammad, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (football, track)
2011-12 – Khalfani Muhammad, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (football, track)
2010-11 – Marqise Lee, Gardena Serra (football, basketball, track)
2009-10 – Robert Woods, Gardena Serra (football, track)
2008-09 – Tyler Gaffney, San Diego Cathedral Catholic (football, baseball)
2007-08 – German Fernandez, Riverbank (cross country, track)
2006-07 – Mike (Giancarlo) Stanton, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (footb, bb, baseball)
2005-06 – Chase Budinger, Carlsbad La Costa Canyon (basketball, volleyball)
2004-05 – Drew Shiller, Burlingame (football, basketball, baseball)
2003-04 – Kenny O’Neal, Oakland Skyline (football, track)
2002-03 – Steve Smith, Woodland Hills Taft (football, basketball, track)
2001-02 – Aaron Piersol, Newport Beach Newport Harbor (swimming)
2000-01 – Antwon Guidry, San Jose Leigh (football, basketball, track)
1999-00 – D.J. Williams, Concord De La Salle (football, track)
1998-99 – Chris Lewis, Long Beach Poly (football, volleyball)
1997-98 – C.C. Sabathia, Vallejo (football, basketball, baseball)
1996-97 – Ken-Yon Rambo, Long Beach Poly (football, track)
1995-96 – Chris Claiborne, Riverside J.W. North (football, basketball)
1994-95 – Eric Guerrero, San Jose Independence (wrestling)
1993-94 – McKay Christensen, Fresno Clovis West (football, baseball)
1992-93 – Calvin Harrison, Salinas North Salinas (track, basketball)
1991-92 – Jason Kidd, Alameda St. Joseph (basketball, baseball)
1990-91 – Rob Johnson, El Toro (football, basketball, baseball)
1989-90 – Ryan Hancock, Cupertino Monta Vista (football, baseball)
1988-89 – Lorenzo Neal, Lemoore (football, wrestling)
1987-88 – Adam Keefe, Irvine Woodbridge (basketball, volleyball)
1986-87 – LeRon Ellis, Santa Ana Mater Dei (water polo, basketball, track)
1985-86 – Brian Johnson, Oakland Skyline (football, baseball)
1984-85 – George Porter, Lompoc Cabrillo (basketball, track)
1983-84 – John Williams, L.A. Crenshaw (basketball)
1982-83 – Mike Smith, Hacienda Heights Los Altos (football, basketball, volleyball)
1981-82 – Jim McCullough, Hemet (football, wrestling)
1980-81 – Kevin Willhite, Rancho Cordova (football, track)
1979-80 – Darryl Strawberry, L.A. Crenshaw (basketball, baseball)
1978-79 – John Elway, Granada Hills (football, baseball)
1977-78 – Jesse Vasallo, Mission Viejo (swimming)
1976-77 – Brian Goodell, Mission Viejo (swimming)
1975-76 – Greg Louganis, El Cajon Valhalla & Santa Ana (diving)
1974-75 – Bill Cartwright, Elk Grove (basketball)
1973-74 – Tim Shaw, Long Beach Wilson (water polo, swimming)
1972-73 – Lonnie Shelton, Bakersfield Foothill (football, track)
1971-72 – Scott McGregor, El Segundo (baseball)
1970-71 – Anthony Davis, San Fernando (football, baseball)
1969-70 – James McAlister, Pasadena Blair (football, track)
1968-69 – Jeff Burroughs, Long Beach Wilson (football, baseball)
1967-68 – Mark Spitz, Santa Clara (water polo, swimming)
1966-67 – Mickey Cureton, Compton Centennial (football)
1965-66 – Tim Danielson, Chula Vista (track)
1964-65 – Paul Wilson, Downey Warren (track)
1963-64 – Don Schollander, Santa Clara (water polo, swimming)
1962-63 – Tommie Smith, Lemoore (football, basketball, track)
1961-62 – Forrest Beaty, Glendale Hoover (track)
1960-61 – Ulis Williams, Compton (track)
1959-60 – Dennis Ralston, Bakersfield (tennis)
1958-59 – Dale Story, Orange (track)
1957-58 – Willie Davis, L. A. Roosevelt (basketball, baseball, track)
1956-57 – Bill Kilmer, Azusa Citrus (football, basketball, baseball)
1955-56 – Fred Lacour, S.F. St. Ignatius (basketball)
1954-55 – Dick Bass, Vallejo (football)
1953-54 – Don Bowden, San Jose Lincoln (track)
1952-53 – Ronnie Knox, Santa Monica (football)
1951-52 – Marty Keough, Pomona (football, basketball, baseball)
1950-51 – Charlie Powell, San Diego (football, baseball)
1949-50 – Lang Stanley, L.A. Jefferson (track)
1948-49 – John Henry Johnson, Pittsburg (football, basketball, track)
1947-48 – Bob Mathias, Tulare (football, track)
1946-47 – Bill McColl, San Diego Hoover (football, basketball, baseball)
1945-46 – George Stanich, Sacramento (basketball, baseball, track)
1944-45 – Jackie Jensen, Oakland (football, baseball)
1943-44 – Bill Sharman, Porterville (football, basketball, baseball)
1942-43 – Glenn Davis, La Verne Bonita (football, baseball)
1941-42 – Irv Noren, Pasadena (basketball, baseball)
1940-41 – Tommie Fears, Los Angeles Manual Arts (football)
1939-40 – Howie Dallmar, San Francisco Lowell (basketball, baseball)
1938-39 – Jim Jurkovich, Fresno (football, track)
1937-38 – Frankie Albert, Glendale (football, baseball, tennis)
1936-37 – Jackie Robinson, Pasadena Muir (football, basketball, baseball)
1935-36 – Bobby Doerr, Los Angeles Fremont (pro baseball)
1934-35 – Ted Williams, San Diego Hoover (baseball)
1933-34 – Hank Luisetti, San Francisco Galileo (basketball)
1932-33 – Don Budge, Oakland University (tennis)
1931-32 – Corney Johnson, Los Angeles (track)
1930-31 – Frank Sobrero, Oakland (football, basketball, baseball)
Note: List continues back to 1890-91 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book & Almanac. All selections prior to 1978-79 done retroactively through research by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis.
Note: All selections prior to 1978-79 done retroactively through research by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis.
Erik Boal has covered high school sports in California for nearly 30 years, formerly serving as editor at the Glendale News-Press and Los Angeles Daily News. He is currently the editor for DyeStat.com and RunnerSpace.com, which focus on track and field, cross country and road racing, but has been a regular attendee at major Southern California high school sports events since the early 2000s.