DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for more than three decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Volleyball goes 5-2, shows well in tourney

Xavier Prep’s volleyball team finished 5-2 overall and took third-place honors in the Silver Bracket of the annual Durango Fall Classic in Las Vegas on Friday (Sept. 20) and Saturday (Sept. 21). The event featured 64 teams.

Xavier, seeded eighth overall, finished Friday’s pool play at 3-0, defeating three California teams, Rancho Cucamonga, Long Beach Poly and St. Lucy’s Priory (Springfield).

The Gators attempted to qualify for the championship bracket on Saturday morning, falling to Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.) in three sets, 25-22, 19-25 and 22-25. That result put them in the Silver Bracket.

In the opening match of Silver Bracket play, Xavier defeated James Longan of Union City, Calif., 25-21, 25-17. The Gators advanced to the bracket semifinal against Kamehameha Kapalama of Honolulu, Hawaii, but fell, 24-26, 25-22 and 18-25.

It was on to the third-place match, where Xavier turned away Peasant Grove, Utah, 25-20 and 25-12.

Xavier, now 18-3 overall, returns to play in Arizona with two home matches in the Activity Center. They are against Mesa Red Mountain on Tuesday (Sept. 24) and Surprise Valley Vista on Thursday (Sept. 26). Both matches begin at 6 p.m.

Menne Aguila golf medalist, Gators finish 3rd

Senior Ashley Menne took medalist honors and Xavier Prep’s golf team finished third out of 10 teams in the annual Aguila Invitational on Friday (Sept. 20) and Saturday (Sept. 21) at the Aguila Golf Course in Laveen.

Menne shot a 4-under-par 68 in the opening round and a 2-under 70 in the final round to finish four shots ahead of runners-up Calynne Rosholt of Cave Creek Cactus Shadows and Madeline Laux of Goodyear Millennium.

“The talented golfers in this year’s Aguila were many, but Ashley held steady and won,’’ said Xavier Athletic Director and co-head coach Sr. Lynn Winsor.

“Her calm demeanor and confidence brought her from two behind at one point to a 4-stroke victory. As coaches, we (Winsor and co-head coach Tui Selvaratnam) are so proud of her grit and determination to get medalist.’’

The Gators led after the first round, but winner Phoenix Pinnacle and second-place Cactus Shadows had strong efforts on the final day.

The team finish was Pinnacle (20 over par), Cactus Shadows (21), Xavier (25), Millennium (39), Phoenix Desert Vista (106), Phoenix Horizon (119), Gilber Perry (129), Scottsdale Chaparral (245) and Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep (293).

Xavier’s five other individuals among the 58 golfers were sophomore Ivy Song (3-over, tied for 6th), senior Breyana Matthews (9-over, tied for 14th), junior Mary Beth Doss (19-over, 23rd), freshman Annie Dawson (20-over, 24th), and senior Danae Bravo (53-over, 38th).

The Gators will play again on Monday (Sept. 23) in a three-way match with Chandler Hamilton and Chaparral at the Springfield Golf Resort in south Chandler.

Runners compete in Tempe, California races

Xavier Prep’s cross-country runners were out in full force on Saturday (Sept. 21), competing in one meet in Tempe and another in Norco (southern), Calif.

The Gators, with seven runners, finished 22nd out of 27 teams in the 3-mile Sweepstakes category at the Woodbridge (Calif.) Invitational.

Closer to home, Xavier flooded the course with 21 runners in the annual Doug Conley Invitational at the Shalimar Golf Course in Tempe. The Gators finished second behind Gilbert Highland out of 18 teams in the Non-Varsity category.

Xavier’s top finisher in the Woodbridge was senior Mia Olsen, who was 49th out of 199 runners with a time of 17:31.5.

Others in the Gator contingent were junior Jamie Stelnik (72nd, 17:45.9), senior Jessica Mirmelli (153rd, 18:58.4), senior Grace Valandra (159th, 19:05.9), freshman Reyna Silva (160th, 19:07.5), sophomore Maria Benitez (161st, 19:08.3) and junior Sammy Braun (184th, 19:42.7).

Sophomore Karime Morales topped the Gators’ list in the Conley Invitational (9th overall), with a time of 21:31.57 in the event that had 268 runners.

Other XCP finishers: sophomore Hannah Wheeling (10th, 21:32.3), junior Sophia Healy (12th, 21:42.56), junior Rishita Shah (14th, 21:46.13), freshman Calista Flick (17th, 21:57.11), freshman Barbara Paez (18th, 22:09.75), junior Joey Hernandez (21st, 22:13.32), sophomore Catherine Alaimo (23rd, 22:20.99), sophomore Ellie Higgins (34th, 22:47.13), sophomore Catherine Devine (35th, 22:47.98), sophomore Abby Macaluso (40th, 22:58.71).

Also, sophomore Briony Campisi (42nd, 23:01.90), sophomore Grace Teevan (47th, 23.12.72), sophomore MK Fairbanks (52nd, 23:32.70), sophomore LuLu Fischer (60th, 23:42.28), sophomore Riley Ryan (62nd, 23:48.99), sophomore Marissa Mansour (64th, 23:49.79), freshman Grace McClelland (70th, 24:07.26), freshman Bella Titus (73rd, 24:07.55), freshman Alma Melendez (99th, 24:56.79) and sophomore Maia Weingard (147th, 26:27.04).

All of Xavier’s runners will reunite on Friday (Sept. 27), traveling to Casa Grande for the Desert Twilight event at the Sports World facility. Races start at approximately 4 p.m. and run past dusk.

Another 6th-place finish for XCP/BCP bikers

The Xavier Prep/Brophy Prep mountain bikers’ finish in the second Arizona Interscholastic Cycling League race on Sunday (Sept. 22) mirrored their first race two weeks ago.

The team finished sixth in the standings, just as it did in Race #1, scoring 3721 points. Prescott High, the host team at Prescott’s Pioneer Park, won the event.

Xavier had three riders finish in the top 20 of the JV 1 race, 2 laps with a total of 11.5 miles.

They were sophomore Hailey Schwartz (4th, 56:02.96), senior Heather Kwapiszeski (13th, 59:48.19) and senior Erin Hill (17th, 1:05.44.33).

Two Xavier riders competed in the freshman race (11.5 miles) – Chloe Lindeback (19th, 1:13.02.00) and Grace Morgan (26th, 1:25.34.53).

And Xavier had four riders in the JV 2 race – senior Sam Sandoval (28th, 1:14.26.23), senior Catherine Wandachowicz (31st, 1:16.21.09), sophomore Aria Tseffos (39th, 1:22.59.30) and senior Camdyn Rael (40th, 1:24.10.86).

The Xavier/Brophy group will ride again on Oct. 6 at Wren Arena in southern Arizona’s Fort Huachuca.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Freshman "A" tennis wins, badminton falls

The Xavier Prep freshman “A” tennis team evened its record at 1-1 with a 9-0 victory over visiting Tempe Corona del Sol at the Stark Tennis Center on Thursday (Sept. 19).

And the Xavier badminton team suffered a tough 5-4 loss at Scottsdale Chaparral, while the junior varsity won 7-2.

Xavier’s tennis winners:

Singles – Sophia Kleingartner, Olivia Taylor, Alissen Orrego, Riley Dowdall, Bryn Murphy and Lilly Reaves.

Doubles – Kleingartner-Taylor, Reese Brown-Orrego, Anna Pisoni-Dowdall.

The A Team will return to the court on Tuesday (Sept. 24) with a match at Tempe Marcos de Niza.

And the badminton team will be back at Chaparral on Saturday (Sept. 21) for the Firebird Invitational.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Chaparral knocks Gator v-ball off unbeaten pedestal

There is physical fatigue and mental fatigue, and both contributed to Xavier Prep’s 3-2 volleyball loss to visiting Scottsdale Chaparral on Wednesday night (Sept. 18), dropping the Gators from the unbeaten ranks at 13-1.

Scores for the match (Chaparral listed first): 25-22, 26-24, 25-27, 11-25, 15-8.

Xavier had played a five-set match against visiting Tempe Corona del Sol the night before, on Tuesday (Sept. 17) and defeated the Aztecs 3-2.

The Gators were back in the Activity Center against Chaparral and played very much like a tired team, especially in the first two games. The scores were close, but Chaparral (8-4) had the upper hand most of the way.

Xavier somehow avoided the sweep in the third game, and scored a surprisingly easy win in the fourth.

After a 3-3 tie early in the finale (15 points wins), Chaparral took control with four straight points and grabbed a 10-4 lead shortly thereafter. Once the Firebirds reached double digits, a setback appeared inevitable for the Gators.

“We put ourselves in a bad situation,’’ said Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.

She added that the downward spiral had just as much to do with the players’ mental state as the physical, if not more so.

“Some of our leaders decided to pick and choose when they would play, and you can’t have that. There is mental and physical fatigue, so we have to be demanding of ourselves and we didn’t do it.’’

The team was due to leave for Las Vegas after school on Thursday (Sept. 19) and will play in the annual Durango Classic at several high schools in that area. Xavier is the No. 8 overall seed and will play in Pool 8 on Court 2 at Las Vegas’ Coronado High.

Three other teams from southern California are in Xavier’s pool – Long Beach Poly, Rancho Cucamonga and St. Lucy’s Priory. Games will run from 1-6 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 20) with full bracket play on Saturday (Sept. 21).

As the Xavier bus winds its way toward Nevada, some of the players will nod off. Others might listen to music. Perhaps it would be a good opportunity to forget about the Chaparral match?

No way, said Bryant.

“We need to remember this,’’ she said. “It’s all about effort, and if we don’t change our effort, the same thing is going to happen.’’

Article on USGA site puts XCP golf in spotlight

The story of Xavier Prep’s golf program continues to reach far and wide.

The United States Golf Association, in some of the latest postings on its Web site,, features Xavier in section titled, 125 Years of Golf in America, focusing on the state of Arizona.

Xavier Athletic Director Sr. Lynn Winsor and co-head coach and Assistant Athletic Director Tui Selvaratnam are highlighted in the story, along with a timeline of the school’s outstanding history and commentary from players past and present.

It’s a nice read – check it out when you get a free moment.

Go Gators !!