Sacred Heart Cathedral’s athletic director retiring after three decades

Jo Ann Momono made history as the first female athletic director in the West Catholic Athletic League

After 30 years of working with the school, including 27 as athletic director, Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory’s Jo Ann Momono will be retiring at the end of the school year, principal Gary Cannon confirmed in a press release on Monday.

“Her concern for the welfare and personal growth of all of our student-athletes is genuine, exceptional and will have an impact on this community and its members for years to come,” he said.

Momono made history as the first female athletic director in the West Catholic Athletic League, and she has become the longest tenured athletic director in the league. After three years coaching volleyball, she stepped into the role of athletic director. The success she had with volleyball, winning a pair of league titles, was parlayed into the entire athletic department, which has enjoyed an unprecedented run of success during her tenure. Once an afterthought on the Northern California sports scene, the Fightin’ Irish have won 18 Northern California championships, 43 Central Coast Section titles and 24 league championships between the West Catholic Athletic League and the now-defunct Girls Private School League and Catholic Girls Athletic League.

Athletics in San Francisco can be an obstacle with limited space for facilities, but under Momono, SHC has developed a new practice field, Student Life Center and batting cages, plus making renovations to the school’s pavilion, which is now regarded as one of the top facilities in the WCAL. Additionally, the baseball program has been able to utilize USF’s Benedetti Diamond for home games thanks to her efforts, and her commitment to women’s sports has never wavered throughout her time running the Irish athletic program, playing an instrumental role in expanding the WCAL to cover both men’s and women’s sports.

“Being a female athletic director was not the easiest or most well-trod path,” Cannon explained. “Her perspective as a female leader served our school, the league, section, and state athletics in ways that improved them all.”

Though she has been present at almost every SHC athletic event over the past three decades, volleyball, which Momono coached first at St. Rose Academy and then on Ellis Street, has always been her favorite. She coached current head coach Margi Beima at St. Rose, offered her the job at a wedding and has witnessed most of Beima’s 510 career wins, including back-to-back Central Coast Section Open Division titles.

Riordan stunned in quarterfinals: Considered for much of the year to be the top team in the Bay Area and discussed as one of the greatest high school basketball teams in San Francisco history, the Riordan Crusaders suffered a stunning defeat on Friday in the CCS Open Division Quarterfinals, falling 66-60 to seventh-seeded St. Francis, a team they had swept in the regular season.

The sophomore-heavy Lancers led wire-to-wire, getting the last of Vince Barringer’s five 3-pointers with a minute to go after Riordan (20-5) had gone on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to a single point. St. Francis (15-10) got 23 points from Harlan Banks and 12 from Isaiah Kerr while Trevor Leon had 11 points and six steals. Bryce Monroe scored a game-high 24 points for the second-seeded Crusaders and Je’Lani Clark had 13 points and 12 rebounds, but the two combined to shoot 13-of-40 from the floor and Riordan made just six of 13 free throws. The Crusaders will play a consolation game at 6 p.m. on Thursday, hosting Sacred Heart Prep, before advancing to the CIF State Tournament, where they’re likely to be placed in Division I.

Stuart Hall, University lock up state bids: Both the Stuart Hall Knights and University Red Devils once again punched their tickets to the state tournament on Saturday night, winning NCS Quarterfinal games at Kezar Pavilion. Kyle Jasper scored 26 points and Tomas Wolber added nine to lead Stuart Hall (22-7) to a 60-41 win over Bay in Division 5, while University (22-7) overcame an early double-digit deficit for a 65-58 win over Del Norte in Division 4, earning an 11th consecutive trip to the state tournament behind 18 points apiece from Charlie Kennedy and Ren Zanze.

SHC, SI boys one win from rematch: A rubber match between the Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Ignatius boys basketball teams is close to becoming a reality after both won on Tuesday night against Daly City foes in the CCS Division III Quarterfinals. King-Jhsanni Wilhite scored a game-high 20 points to lead second-seeded SI to a 72-37 rout over visiting Westmoor while SHC fought off Jefferson, winning 66-60 behind 25 points from Ray-John Spears and 24 from Kori McCoy to offset a Grizzlies team led by TQ Byrd’s 22 points. Both will play in semifinal games on Thursday at Burlingame, with the top-ranked Fightin’ Irish facing Aptos at 5:30 and SI battling Monterey at 7, with the semifinal winners both advancing to the title game and securing berths in the state tournament. The championship game would be played on Saturday at a neutral site to be determined, likely either Palo Alto High School or Sequoia High School.

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