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.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Another productive season ends for frosh tennis

 The Xavier Prep freshman tennis season was full of challenges this fall, including a few related to the COVID-19 virus. But the Gators managed to survive with some of the more experienced players assigned to competitive teams and others just starting out and learning the game with exhibition matches.

“These student-athletes showed their team spirit and winning attitude throughout the season,’’ said Coach Judy Hernandez, who with her staff worked with 94 players this season (no cuts).

The Xavier “A” team finished with a 4-5 record, with three home matches and six away matches. The Xavier “B” team finished with an 8-1 record with three away matches and six home matches.

There were 13 players per team and four substitute players per team.

“We played the top six players in our competitive matches and gave the rest of the team exhibition matches to increase their tennis skills,’’ Hernandez said.

Megan Wheeling (Xavier A) and Kristina Stender (Xavier B) were voted Most Valuable Players for the season.

“They were both the No. 1 player on each team, since Freshman Tennis focuses on developing new players, we were able to move the seeding around and offer many players the opportunity to compete,’’ Hernandez said.

Marlee McCloskey (Xavier A) usually competed in the 1 or 2 spot, finishing with five singles victories. Kate Lum Lung (Xavier B) often was in the same situation, and ended her first competitive season with six singles wins.

Lum Lung (B) and Amelia Sabatino (A) were voted their team’s respective Most Improved Players.

Hernandez and her assistants enjoyed the season almost as much as the players.

She said the coaching staff wanted to thank the XCP Athletic Department and the school’s maintenance staff for the support they provided during the season.

The varsity team is due to begin play in the spring under the guidance of long-time coach Laurie Martin. You possibly could see some of the freshmen who started out this fall as a part of that process. And just to learn the game and be competitive at the freshman level is an accomplishment in itself.

Volleyball vs. Hamilton moved, final 2 next week

 Xavier Prep’s lone volleyball match this week, on Tuesday (Oct. 27) at Chandler Hamilton, has been moved to Wednesday (Nov. 4).

That would put the Gators’ final two matches of the regular season on back-to-back nights. The home finale against Tempe Corona del Sol on Tuesday (Nov. 3) will be played as originally scheduled, followed by the match at Hamilton the next night.

The 6A Conference “play-in tournament’’ for teams rated 9 through 24 will be held Nov. 10, with the winners going on to join seeds 1 through 8 in the actual state tournament starting on Nov. 14. High seeds will serve as the host teams in all the tournaments except for the state final, which will be held on Nov. 21 at a location that will be announced at a later date.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Badminton gets split in final 2 of regular season

 Xavier Prep’s badminton team wrapped up its regular season this week with a split of its final two matches, at home against Phoenix Desert Vista on Tuesday (Oct. 27) and Wednesday (Oct. 28) on the road at Scottsdale Chaparral.

The Gators finished with a 7-6 overall record and likely will enter the Division I state tournament that starts on Nov. 9 with the No. 9 seed. However, the final rankings won’t be announced by the Arizona Interscholastic Association until other teams’ final matches on Thursday (Oct. 29) and Friday (Oct. 30).

Teams with the highest seeds will host first-round matches.

The individual singles and doubles portions of the state will be held Nov. 7 at Glendale Independence. Pairings in that event have not been announced by the AIA.

Wins by Xavier’s top four singles players – Lina Vanderwey, Sophie Riviere, Lauren Etsitty and Mia Velasco – sparked the 6-3 victory over Desert Vista.

The Gators struggled most of the afternoon in the 8-1 loss to Chaparral. The No. 1 doubles team of Vanderwey and Riviere allowed XCP to avoid the shutout.


Chaparral 8, Xavier Prep 1

Wednesday, at Chaparral


Midori Pham, C, def. Lina Vanderwey, X, 17-21, 21-17, 21-4. Emiko Pham, C, def. Sophie Riviere, X, 21-17, 21-19. Chi-Chi Bracken, C, def. Lauren Etsitty, X, 21-16, 21-17. Faith Secrest, C, def. Mia Velasco, X, 21-18, 21-18. Jessica Zietz, C, def. Malindi Kilb, X, 21-15, 21-7. Candy Fajardo, C, def. Jasmine Leyva, X, 21-14, 21-11.


S. Riviere-Vanderwey, X. def. Secrest-Fajardo, C, 21-16, 21-12. Zietz-M. Pham, C. def. Velasco-Etsitty, X, 21-13, 21-17. E. Pham-Bracken, C, def. Leyva-Kilb, X, 21-14, 21-14.

Xavier Prep 6, Desert Vista 3

Tuesday, at Xavier


Lina Vanderwey, X, def. Brenna Wallen, DV, 21-7, 21-5. Sophie Riviere, X, def. Breanna Larney, DV, 21-19, 21-10. Lauren Etsitty, X, def. Ainsley Smith, DV, 21-11, 21-18. Mia Velasco, X, def. Miranda Martinez, DV, 21-9, 21-10. Jocelyn Briski, DV, def. Malindi Kilb, X, 12-21, 21-11, 21-15. Aretta Lorenz, DV, def. Zoe Barton, X, 21-18, 21-17.


Vanderwey-S. Riviere, X, def. Lorenz-Wallen, DV, 21-7, 21-14. Larney-Briski, DV, def. Velasco-Etsitty, X, 21-18, 21-15. Kilb-Barton, X, def. Smith-Martinez, DV, 21-19, 21-14.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Gator golf stops Pinnacle, climbs back to the top

 Xavier Prep’s Gators are back where they belong.

They are on top of the Arizona golf mountain, and the view is great!

For an amazing 37th time in the school’s storied history!

After finishing second to Phoenix Pinnacle a year ago, the Gators came back to withstand a big rally by Pinnacle in Tuesday’s (Oct. 27) second round for a 3-shot victory at the Omni Tucson National Golf Resort’s Catalina Course. Xavier had 626, Pinnacle 629, and Chandler Hamilton was third at 656.

Freshman Kate Hauptman, who shared the lead after Monday’s (Oct. 26) first round, was the top individual finisher for XCP in third place. She shot a 3-over-par 76 in the second round and had a two-day total of 152, a respectable 6-over-par.

Peoria Liberty’s Mattie Frick and Hamilton’s Jennifer Seo tied for the No. 1 spot, and Frick took home the individual trophy after a playoff between the two.

Junior Ivy Song had a strong effort for Xavier on Tuesday, shooting a 3-over 76 for an 8-over 154.

The next two Gators to contribute to the team score were another freshman, Jayden Jevnick, who finished 11th, and Lauren Garcia, who finished 16th. Jevnick shot a 6-over 79 on Tuesday and had a final total of 13-over 159.  Garcia capped a memorable senior year with an 8-over 81 and final total of 15-over 161.

The fifth player of the Gator group, sophomore Annie Dawson, shot a 15-over 88 and finished with a 29-over 175 and a tie for 29th.

“Annie played with a lot of heart,’’ said Sr. Lynn Winsor, Athletic Director and co-head coach with Tui Selvaratnam. Jane Ladensack serves as an assistant.

Winsor added that all the Sisters at Xavier used the power of prayer to help the team along.

The Gators welcomed the sentiment. Friday’s round was cold and blustery.

“But the girls kept it together. All of them put in a lot of hard work. We knew they had a chance, but the way they finished was a pleasant surprise,’’ Selvaratnam said.

Winsor said the players participated in a “talent show’’ after the first round and Garcia, being a senior, delivered a memorable motivational message.

“She said, “We lost (to Pinnacle) in the Antigua and the Aguila (tournaments), but we have nothing to lose here,’ ’’ Winsor said.

Winsor said that Xavier, which led Pinnacle by six shots at the end of the first round, found itself with a 16-shot lead after 10 holes of the second round. Everyone knew that the Pioneers were not going to just roll over and give up. They are way too good for that.

Pinnacle’s charge caused the lead to shrink, and the Xavier girls held on for dear life.

“It was nerve-racking,’’ Winsor said.

Selvaratnam followed the team around in a golf cart during the rounds, offering words of advice at various points. The rules say that only one coach is allowed to do that.

 “Tui did an awesome job. The girls stayed balanced,’’ Winsor said.

Song helped keep the Gators afloat on the final hole, sinking a 16-foot put to take some of the pressure off Hauptman, who was playing in the group behind Song’s.

Selvaratnam accompanied the players south on Interstate 10 to the championship course on a few occasions in the weeks leading up to the tournament. It was valuable experience, she said, especially for the freshmen.

“There is a lot to know about this course, and all of them did a great job. They came through when we needed them,’’ Selvaratnam said.

“We are proud of the girls, for sure. This is one of the best wins I have had in 15 years as a coach.’’

The coaches are looking forward to working with the girls next year, seeing how they can improve between now and then. Only two seniors, Garcia and Mary Beth Doss, will graduate. The rest are expected to return.

With uncertainty created by the onset of the COVID-19 virus in the late winter and spring of 2020, nobody seemed to know what the future would bring in the early weeks this fall.

“We ended up happy -- happy to have a season and that the AIA (Arizona Interscholastic Association) was able to have a state tournament at this beautiful course,’’ Winsor said.


At Omni Tucson National Golf Resort’s Catalina Course

Team scores

Xavier Prep 626, Phoenix Pinnacle 629, Chandler Hamilton 656, Anthem Boulder Creek 674, Peoria Liberty 680, Gilbert Perry 731, Tucson Rincon-University 733, Gilbert Highland 756, Tempe Corona del Sol 769, Phoenix Desert Vista 771, Mesa Red Mountain 791, Mesa Mountain View 807.

Xavier individual scores

Kate Hauptman, Fr., 3rd, 152; Ivy Song, Jr., 6th, 154; Jayden Jevnick, Fr., 11th, 159; Lauren Garcia, Sr., 16th, 161; Annie Dawson, So., Tie-29th, 175.



State championship seasons

(Starting with Tuesday’s triumph)

2020, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1983, 1982, 1981, 1980.

Swimmers, divers ready to give state best shot

 Xavier Prep’s swim-dive team finished its regular season on Oct. 22 with a 95-68 victory over Phoenix Desert Vista in a virtual dual meet, and now sets its sights on the state meet, which will be held Nov. 6 at the Skyline Aquatic Center in east Mesa.

In a notification released by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, spectators will not be allowed at the meet due to COVID-19 precautions. For more information, go to, click on swimming, then click on tournaments.

All three “A” relay teams for the Gators dominated in their events against Desert Vista.

Xavier had several individual winners. Jordan Herrera won the 200-yard freestyle. Mia Rankin was a double winner in the 200-yard individual medley and the 500-yard freestyle.

Sprinter Kelly Scott won the 50- and 100-yard freestyles. Gracie Munk won the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard backstroke. And Pao Guerra won the 100-yard breaststroke.

Good job, Gators, and good luck at state !!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Xavier golf leads at state, but can't afford to relax

 It’s nice to have the lead after Monday’s (Oct. 26) first round of the Division I state golf tournament as Xavier Prep does, but the Gators can’t really afford to get too comfortable.

That is because looming just six shots behind the Gators is defending state champion Phoenix Pinnacle.

Xavier will be aiming for its 37th state golf title on Tuesday (Oct. 27), playing the Catalina Course at the Omni Tucson National Resort, which has been home of the state tournament from 2017 through this season.

The Gators, who have had many stars shine in Arizona’s golf galaxy over the years, appear to have another one ready to ascend.

Freshman Kate Hauptman was tied with Chandler Hamilton’sophomore Jennifer Seo at the end of the first round, both with 2-over par 75s.

Peoria Liberty’s Mattie Frick and Mesa Red Mountain’s Sydney Bryan were tied for third, both with 3-over 76s.

Pinnacle, meanwhile, fell back early in the day, pulled to within two of Xavier near the turn, and then slipped again as Xavier picked up a small bit of breathing room.

Xavier’s top five players (top four figure in the team scoring) were Hauptman, junior Ivy Song (tied for 9th at 5-over 78), freshman Jayden Jevnick and senior Lauren Garcia (both tied for 17th at 7-over 80). The fifth Gator as sophomore Annie Dawson, tied for 30th with a 14-over 87.

Pinnacle’s top five players were senior Katie Stinchcomb (4-over 77), sophomore Carolyn Fuller (5-over 78), senior Sydney Siegel (6-over 79), senior Kyla Wilde (12-over 85) and senior Lexi Pelle (15-over 88).

The second round is set to begin on Tuesday, beginning at 9 a.m.

Division I golf first-round team scores

Xavier Prep 313, Phoenix Pinnacle 319, Chandler Hamilton 327, Peoria Liberty 336, Anthem Boulder Creek 342, Gibert Perry 365, Tempe Corona del Sol 369, Gilbert Highland 369, Tucson Rincon University 372, Phoenix Desert Vista 383, Mesa Red Mountain 390, Mesa Mountain View 405.

Scott leads Xavier archers at State Qualifier

 Senior Alexandra Scott led the way for Xavier Prep’s archers on Saturday (Oct. 24) in their State Qualifier at XCP’s Petznick Field.

Scott shot a 282, including an impressive 16 bullseyes. Senior Alyssa Marino also did well with a score of 250.

Senior Ariana Santana-Garcia finished with a personal-best 247, and senior Kaitlyn Nguyen was at 242.

Sophomore Sam Jose shot a personal best, and Alexa Ojeda, a newcomer to the team also had a strong effort.

The XCP archers will take aim next on Nov. 7 in the Wickenburg Rodeo Shoot at Wickenburg’s Everret Bowman Rodeo Grounds.