Anaheim High Celebrates Its Olympic Athletes

With USA athletes earning a record number of medals in the 2016 Summer Olympics, the AHSAA thought it was time to highlight Anaheim High’s own Olympic athletes.

Anaheim High’s legendary swim and water polo coach Jon Urbanchek, himself an Olympic swimmer, is in Rio now as a special assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team, a position he also held in 2012.

He was head coach to the 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympic teams. In total, Urbanchek has coached 44 USA Olympians with 11 Gold medals including four world record holders.

Inducted into the Anaheim Hall of Fame in 2011, Urbanchek served as Anaheim High’s swim and water polo coach between 1963 and 1978, an era when his Colonist teams achieved CIF championships and All American honors.

After leaving
his native country of Hungary following his participation in the 1956 Olympic Games, Jon received a scholarship to the University of Michigan where he contributed to three NCAA Championships in 1958, 1959 and 1961.

A true legend among swimming coaches, Urbanchek was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame on July 6, 2008.

Barbara McAlister - Diver July 23, 1962 X 8550 credit: John G. Zimmerman - staff

Barbara Ellen (McAlister) Talmage on the cover of a 1962 Sports Illustrated

Barbara Ellen (McAlister) Talmage from AUHS Class of 1959 became a championship diver who won seven Senior National Titles, took a gold medal in springboard diving at the 1963 Pan American Games and represented the U.S.A. as a diver in the 1964 and 1968 Olympics. Her image has graced the covers of both Sports Illustration and Life magazines.

Sowder_Sid001Sid Sowder Freudenstein from the Class of 1963 carried the flag in the 1968 Olympics as co-captain of the Men’s Gymnastics Team in Mexico City. As a UC Berkeley student, Freudenstein won many invitationals, PAC 8, regional titles and national and international awards. In his senior year in 1968, he tied for first on floor exercise, and his team won the NCAA Championship.

At Anaheim High, he won many competitions, mostly on tumbling, floor and vault. In his senior year, he was the High Point Man (closest to All-Around) at the Southern California State Championships.

After ending his competitive career, Freudenstein returned to school at the University of Colorado (CU), earning a PhD in physics. While finishing his degree and raising a young family, he became head gymnastics coach at CU in the fall of 1976. Later he became chairman of the physics department at Metropolitan State University in Denver.

Track and field athlete Rick Sloan from Class of 1964 competed in the 1968 Olympics, placing 7th in the decathlon and becoming the fourth American in the sport to exceed 8,000 points. Rick Sloan senior photo class of 64

At UCLA, he became the first Bruin to exceed 7-feet in the high jump when he vaulted 7-1. An injury prevented him from competing in the high jump and vault in the Olympics, but his fate was sealed when a coach talked him into competing in the decathlon. Afraid to high jump on his bad leg, Sloan had only one practice jump before the Olympic tryouts, but he somehow cleared 6-11 ¾ to set a world record decathlon high jump record and make the U.S. team.


Kit Salness-Howser – Class of 1972

He parlayed his experience as a decathlete into a life-long career as a track and field coach. His career culminated as the men’s and women’s track and field head coach and the dean of Washington State University’s coaches. He retired from WSU in 2014 but said he had more coaching in him.

While he never returned to the Olympics as an athlete, Sloan is well known internationally in the multi-events circuits because of his 14 years as coach for four-time world decathlon champion, Olympic champion and former world record-holder Dan O’Brien and because of his mentoring of Olympic heptathlete Diana Pickler. He’s also coached the late Gabriel Tiacoh, the quarter-miler from Ivory Coast who won an Olympic silver medal in 1984.

Kit Salness-Howser from Class of 1972 was a nationally ranked platform diver and a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic diving team that was supposed to go to Moscow in 1980, but didn’t because of the U.S. boycott. Kit was inducted into the Anaheim Hall of Fame in 2004.Do you know of any other Anaheim High alumni who have participated in the Olympics? Let us know by emailing
Once A Colonist, Always A Colonist!

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