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.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Xavier 4th of 64 teams in Durango Classic

Do the math. When you finish fourth out of 64 teams in a tournament, you’re looking pretty good.

That was the story of Xavier Prep’s participation in the two-day Durango Classic for volleyball teams from across the nation on Friday (Sept. 14) and Saturday (Sept. 15) in Las Vegas.

The Gators won their first 10 sets of the tournament, lost a pair in the semifinals and took it to the 3-set limit in the third-place match before falling. Xavier lost to Redondo Union (Calif.) in the semis 25-22, 25-21 and Mater Dei of Santa Ana (Calif.) 25-18, 18-25 and 25-17 in the third-place match.

“Seven of the top 10 teams were nationally ranked and 19 of the top 100. The Gators were among elite company,’’ said Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant, whose defending Arizona 6A state champions are now 10-2 this season.

Xavier had two players named to the All-Tournament Team – senior setter Shannon Shields and junior outside hitter Bri McKnight.

The Gators will be busy again this week. They will have two road matches on Tuesday (Sept. 18) and Wednesday (Sept. 19) against Mesa Red Mountain and Surprise Valley Vista, respectively. And they will play in another tournament – the Nike Tournament of Champions – at various locations in Phoenix and the southeast Valley next Friday (Sept. 21) at Saturday (Sept. 22).

Xavier scores in the Durango Classic:

Pool play

XCP def. Beckman (Calif.) 25-8, 25-13. XCP def. La Costa (Calif.) 25-18, 25-19. XCP def. Centennial (Nev.) 25-14, 25-20.

Qualifying round

XCP def. Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) 25-19, 25-19.

Championship  bracket

XCP def. Cathedral Catholic (Calif.), 25-16, 25-20.


Redondo Union (Calif.) def. XCP, 25-22, 25-21.

Third place

Assumption (Ky.) def. XCP, 25-18, 18-25, 25-17.

Gator runners still making their mark

Xavier Prep’s cross-country teams had a lot of royal blue-clad athletes running all over the place on Saturday (Sept. 15).

A group of the team’s top runners had 6th- and 10th-place finishes in the Sweepstakes and Varsity A divisions in the Woodbridge Classic in Norco, Calif., and eight freshman runners had a strong showing in the Ojo Rojo Invitational on Saturday at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler. They led Xavier to the team title, ahead of second-place Page High.

Woodbridge Classic results

Sweepstakes Division (3 miles)

Mia Olsen, Jr., 31st (17:04.4), Jamie Stelnik, So., 38th (17:08.2), Karina Hawkins, Sr., 67th (17:42.9), Sammy Braun, So., 82nd (17:52.5), Helen Innes, Sr., 86th (17:55.8), Grace Valandra, Jr., 137th (18:39.9) and Karli Baker, Sr., 150th (18:52.8).

Blue Division Varsity A (3 miles)

Karina Smith, Sr., 23rd (19:02.1), Ansley Burns, Fr., 34th (19:17.3), Johnnie Mitchell, Sr., 61st (19:51.2), Josie Venezia, Sr., 72nd (20:03.0), Sophia Healy, So., 103rd (20:44.1) and Megan Woodbury, Sr.,  145th, (22:00.9).

Ojo Rojo Invitational results

Freshman Division (5K)

Maria Benitez, 3rd (21:59.9), Karime Morales, 5th (23:07.9), Ellie Higgins, 7th (23:51.5), M.K. Fairbanks, 9th (23:52.7), Hannah Wheeling, 11th (24:24.6), Erika Germinario, 12th, (24:30.4), Catherine Devine, 13th (24:48.6) and Lulu Fischer, 20th (22.03.0).

Next up

Xavier will run in the annual Doug Conley Invitational at the Shalimar Golf Course in Tempe on Sept. 22. Races begin at 7:15 and 8:15 a.m.

Frosh "B" tennis team falls short vs. Perry

Xavier Prep’s freshman “B’’ tennis team took host Gilbert Perry to the limit on Thursday (Sept. 13) before falling 5-4. The “B’ team is now 1-2.

Singles results: Perry def. Caroline Cobb (X) 8-4; Perry def. Elena Titus (X) 8-2; Perry def. Virginia Brown (X) 8-6; Emily Lunt (X) def. Perry 8-0; Lauren Ashton (X) def. Perry 8-7; Sophia Flores (X) def. Perry 8-5.

Doubles results: Perry def. Cobb-Titus (X) 8-1; Perry def. Brown-Lunt (X) 8-7; Ashton-Flores (X) def. Perry 8-2.

The “B’ team is scheduled to play twice this week, on Tuesday (Sept. 18) against Phoenix Mountain Pointe at the Stark Tennis Center and Thursday (Sept. 20) against Chandler Basha at the Stark Tennis Center. The freshman “A’ team will play on Thursday at Queen Creek Casteel.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Gator badminton team wins it for coach

With coach Sue Contreras away from her Xavier Prep badminton team due to illness, the Gators gave her an uplifting 7-2 victory over visiting Scottsdale Chaparral on Thursday (Sept. 13).

Xavier rebounded from a 5-4 loss to Tempe Corona del Sol on Tuesday (Sept. 11) to win its third match in five tries this season.

The Gators were coached by former head coach Nancy Meyer, along with other coaches Francis Hartojo and Karina Magana.

With Contreras out for an indefinite period, Meyer said she hopes to continue to help the team out whenever she can as her schedule permits.

“This was a great win today, very exciting,’’ she said.

Xavier players signed a large brightly colored banner after the match that was to be presented to Contreras.

Singles results: Maeve Lee (X) def. Elena Bionocole (C), 11-0, 11-4. Jane Tiffany (X), def. Candy Fajardo (C), 11-6, 11-0. Taylor Dines (X), def. Meredith Fedyna (C), 11-3, 11-2. Maddie Dines (X), def. Malie Kravertz (C), 11-7, 11-0. Emelia Pham (C), def. Mayse Dunn (X), 11-8, 11-4. Lina Vanderwey (X), def. Midori Pham (C), 13-10, 13-11.

Doubles results: Lee-Tiffany (X), def. Bionocole-Kravertz (C), 15-9, 15-11. T. Dines-M. Dines (X), def. Fajardo-E. Pham (C), 15-4, 15-4. Fedyna-M. Pham (C), won by forfeit over Dunn-Vanderwey (X).

Xavier will play next on Tuesday (Sept. 18) against Mesa Mountain View in the Activity Center. The event will begin at 4 p.m.

Swim-dive wins again, set for Chandler meet

A day after a big win over Mountain View, Xavier swimmers were back at it with a Friday morning practice at Brophy. (Photo courtesy of XCP swimming).
Xavier Prep’s swimmers and divers appear to be on the way to another strong season.

The Gators, who won last year’s Division I state title, scored an impressive 116 ½-69 ½ victory over host Mesa Mountain View on Thursday (Sept. 13) at the Kino Aquatic Center in Mesa.

Xavier won all three relay events as well as the following individual races:

Freshman Gracie Munk (100-yard butterfly, 100 backstroke), sophomore Mia Rankin (500 freestyle), sophomore Pao Guerra (50 freestyle) and junior Vica Dow (100 freestyle).

The XCP divers also had a strong showing.

Senior Alyssa Largay won the event, while freshman Sam Klein finished third.

Xavier has a quick turnaround, competing in the annual Wolves Classic at Chandler High on Saturday (Sept. 15). First race begins at 8:30 a.m.

Xavier frosh tennis "A' team blanks Basha

The Xavier Prep freshman “A” tennis team added another win to its 2018 list by defeating visiting Chandler Basha 9-0 on Thursday (Sept. 13) at the Stark Tennis Center.

Singles results: Victoria Chrostowski (X) def. Basha, 6-2; Sammy Field (X) def. Basha, 6-0; Piper Kilb (X) def. Basha, 6-0; Grace Paul (X) def. Basha, 6-3; Caroline Purtill (X) def. Basha, 6-0. Halston Yerxa (X) won by default.

Doubles results: Chrostowski-Kilb (X) def. Basha, 6-0; Field-Paul (X) def. Basha, 6-1. Purtill-Yerxa (X) won by default.

The “A” team returns to action on Sept.20 on the road against Queen Creek Casteel.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Gator volleyball, 5-0, heads for Vegas tourney

A relaxing bus ride to Las Vegas, including a stop at an In-N-Out burger joint, is a lot better for a volleyball team after a sweep than the other way around.

Xavier Prep’s Gators, who departed campus on Thursday afternoon (Sept. 13), are ready for another year in the prestigious Durango Classic, on Friday (Sept. 14) and Saturday (Sept. 15).

Their most recent conquest came on Wednesday night (Sept. 12) when they swept host Scottsdale Chaparral, 25-21, 25-14 and 25-16.

Xavier is now 5-0 heading into the Durango.

The Gators, who had swept Tempe Corona del Sol the night before, began the first game by giving up the first three points and later trailing 6-2.

Coach Lamar-Renee Bryant attributed some of that to players’ concerns in regard to a teammate’s injury during warm-ups.

“Once we settled down, we were able to play better,’’ Bryant said.

Xavier took its first lead at 14-13 and was able to hang on the rest of the way.

The more familiar version of the Gators showed up for the second game and had things well in hand.

The third game featured a battle within a battle. Xavier senior setter Shannon Shields, perhaps the best passer in the state, showed she also can play the power game with three key kills in a five-point stretch in the middle of the game.

The reason? Standing on the other side of the net was Chaparral outside hitter Amber Stivrins, Shields’ club teammate with the Arizona Storm and a future teammate when both athletes play at the University of Louisville starting next year.

Bragging rights?

“I guess you could say that,’’ Bryant said.

The coach added that senior outside hitter Hayley Nash “did a great job in the middle’’ on both offense and defense, as did junior middle blocker Jasmine Knight. And sophomore outside hitter Serena Turner continues to develop into a go-to presence.

Xavier begins play in the 64-team Durango with three matches on Friday at Coronado High in the suburb of Henderson, Nev. The Gators are in Pool 8 along with La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.), Beckman (Irvine, Calif.) and Centennial (Las Vegas).

Bracket and championship play will be held Saturday at Durango High.

Four other Arizona teams are entered in the event – Gilbert Campo Verde, Tucson Ironwood Ridge, Queen Creek and Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.