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.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Gator golfer Menne to fly solo in prestigious tourney

Ashley Menne is ready to tee it up.

The junior-to-be from Xavier Prep already is one of Arizona’s top junior golfers and a two-time Arizona Interscholastic Association state champion. She will be the lone representative from our state on Memorial Day Weekend (May 26-28) at the Thunderbird International Junior tournament at Grayhawk in Scottsdale.

She has played in 12 American Junior Golf Association events, winning once.

A victory by Menne in the T-bird would make her the second player in Arizona history to accomplish the feat. Former Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep player Philip Francis won the event in 2006 before going on to play at UCLA and Arizona State.

The T-bird tournament features players age 12-19 representing 17 states and 16 countries.

Menne has been a Junior Golf Association of Arizona member since 2012, and won 15 of her 21 JGAA events in 2017. She has been named the JGAA Player of the Year in three different age divisions since 2013.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

New seniors will be ready to roll in 2018-19

The XCP Files recently profiled the graduating senior athletes from 2017-18.

Now we pass the torch to an outstanding group of juniors who will be stepping in as seniors in 2018-19 and assuming leadership roles in addition to showing their athletic abilities.

Here are names taken from the 2017-18 sports rosters – we hope to see all in uniform in the new school year after tryouts are completed.

Go Gators!!

Badminton – Misaal Irfan.

Cross Country – Karina Hawkins, Helen Innes, Karina Smith, Josie Venezia, Arden Smith, Katherine Thomas, Megan Woodbury.

Golf – Emily Cons, Eve Worden, Laura Lu, Holly Otlewski.

Swim-Dive – Molly Cahill, Alyssa Largay, Talle Donley, Clare Carlson, Izzy Gomez, Maggie Hull, Cat Worth.

Hotshots (target shooting) – Lindsay Armstrong, Janeth Arvizu-Rivera, Hailey Infante, Ava Koehler de Celaya, Chloe Porter, Loralai Ramirez, Riley Simms, Rileigh Walsh.

Volleyball – Trinity Cavanaugh, Shannon Shields, Ashley Yeung, Hayley Nash, Kate Spellman, Jennelle Yarwood.

Basketball – Cara Coffman, Truly Helton, Leilani McIntosh, Bianca Nava, Addie Putnam, Paris Rasheed-Moore.

Soccer – Karla Alvadado-Lopez, Izzy Culver-Witt, Kyla Ferry, Katie McGee.

Gatorline – Sarah Byrne, Abby Jones, Tatum Pylman, Meade Schraff.

Spiritline – Kennedy Brown, Megan Gleason, Katie Holmes, Addy Livingston, Alexis Mullard,  Renee Pierson, Sara Reck, Monique Shilliday, Kate Warner, Savannah Wasson.

Crew (rowing) – Rachel Chung, Maeve Lee, Maddie Wickers.

Mountain Biking – Lulu Castro, Yacinta Irakoze, Isabella Plumb.

Lacrosse (club) – Grace Martinez, Sarah Minton, Emma Tawney, Izzy Mancilla, Alexa Wear.

Softball – Makynlee Blodgett-Schmidt, Analisa Roman, Kylie Rodgers.

Track & Field – Karli Baker, Gisselle Bojorquez, Molly Cahill, Taylor Davis, Leila Grant, Abby Hamad, Karina Hawkins, Natalia Hiler, Janna Hynds, Helen Innes, Maeve Jones, Johnnie Mitchell, Mariah Morales, Kolbe Pierce, Jada Sims, Arden Smith, Karina Smith, Katherine Thomas, Josie Venezia, Megan Woodbury.

Tennis – Tristanne Dechoux, Emily Good, Kate Stegman.

Beach Volleyball – Trinity Cavanaugh, Emily Conn, Cassie Kuhler, Lauren Lykins, Lydia Rush, Shea Sciarappo, Shannon Shields.

Summer camps highlight sports calendar

The month of June is hot, but certainly not boring around Xavier Prep.

The school will hold its annual sports camps starting June 4 and running all the way through June 22.

Athletes eligible to participate are from grades 5 through 9, depending on the sport.

Brochure and registration form are available at Fee is $100, with May 21 as registration deadline.

The sports . . .

Volleyball – June 4-8 (9th grade), 2-4 p.m. in the Activity Center and same dates for 7th and 8th graders from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Activity Center and Vestar Hall. June 18-22 for 5th and 6th graders from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Activity Center and Vestar Hall.

Tennis ­­-- June 4-8 (grades 5-9), 7-9 a.m. at the Stark Tennis Center. The number of entrants will determine whether this portion will be held.

Softball – June 11-14 (grades 5-8), 8-11 a.m. at Petznick Field.

Badminton – June 11-15 (grades 6-8), 2-4:30 p.m. in the Activity Center and/or Vestar Hall.

Beach volleyball – June 18-21 (grades 6-9), 7-9:30 a.m. at Cavanaugh Courts. The number of entrants will determine whether this portion will be held.

Basketball – June 18-22 (grades 5-9), 2-4 p.m. in the Activity Center.

Sr. Lynn is HOF candidate -- cast your vote

If you are searching for a candidate who completely embodies a person who should be elected to the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame, look no further than Xavier Prep’s own Vice Principal for Activities and Athletic Director Sr. Lynn Winsor.

The Hall of Fame currently is in a voting campaign for 2018. Sr. Lynn is among several candidates who are eligible. Read on and find out how to cast your ballot.

Not many are Arizona through and through, as she is. She is a graduate of XCP, received her college degree from Arizona State and came back to Xavier in 1974 as a teacher, and in 1977 became the school’s VP for Activities and AD.

Sr. Lynn Winsor
She coached several sports upon joining the XCP staff, but she dug her heels in on the golf course and guided the Gators to a national-record 35 state championships, including seven in a row. Several of her golfers have gone on to the college/professional ranks.

Among her awards are National High School Athletic Director of the Year, National Golf Coach of the Year (twice) and the National Award of Merit. She also was a member of the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Executive Board.

Here is how to vote for the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame . . .

Go to the organization’s Web site, On the left side of the page, there is a spot you can click to get a ballot. The ballot will have two full columns of candidates. They are listed alphabetically and she will be on the right side, under S for “Sister.’’ Hit the button that says “Submit’’ and you are done. It is an easy way to support and recognize her and the school.

Voters are allowed only one vote. Selectors can mark as many candidates they believe are worthy, but only are allowed to vote once.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Gators' Matthews gets close look at Woods qualifier

Breyana Matthews, left, and Cheyenne Woods (Xavier photo).
Xavier Prep sophomore golfer Breyana Matthews got the chance to play with former Gator golfer Cheyenne Woods on Monday (May 14) in the U.S. Women's Open Qualifier at the Arizona Country Club in Phoenix.
Only two would qualify for the U.S. Women's Open May 31-June 3 in Shoal Creek, Ala., and Woods was one of those.
Congratulations, Cheyenne, and here's hoping that Matthews can one day use this experience as motivation to accomplish a similar feat.

Ex-Gator Coppola wins beach title for LSU

Former Xavier Prep beach volleyball player Claire Coppola has gone from state champion here to a national champion at LSU!!

Coppola, a 2016 Gator graduate, teamed with teammate Kristen Nuss to win the USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championship over the weekend at Hermosa Beach, Calif.

Claire Coppola (LSU photo).
The pair had to win twice on Saturday (May 12) to take home the trophy. Thirty pairs competed in the event.

In the semifinals, they defeated Cal Poly’s Torrey Van Winden and Emily Sonny 21-17, 23-21. Then it was on to the title match, which proved to be about as tough as you can get.

Coppola and Nuss faced Florida State’s Hailey Luke and Kailey Horton. Coppola and Nuss won the first game 21-9, fell in the second 21-17 and won the third and deciding game 15-8.

With the win, Coppola and Nuss are expected to represent the U.S. at the 2018 FISU Championships July 9-13 in Munich, Germany.

Friday, May 11, 2018

So long, senior athletes -- we're proud of you!!

Saturday (May 12) is the annual rite of passage for Xavier Prep seniors. They will slip into their caps and gowns and experience the thrill of graduation.

Many of these students have proudly worn the uniform of XCP athletic teams.

We would like to acknowledge them one last time and wish them the best.

Here is a brief look at some of them, along with a highlight or two . . . we’ll start with the fall of 2017 and work our way toward the spring sports.

Maddie Reinhart and Alexa Wolfson – They formed one of the most competitive badminton doubles teams in the state.

Abbie Conrad, Caroline Liddy, Caroline McClelland and Annika Nielson – One usually could find them at cross-country practice and in meets, flowing like a blue wave. They did a good job helping some of the younger runners and it paid off with a runner-up finish at the state meet.

Madeline Brown and Lauren Faulkner – Xavier won its seventh state golf title in a row and 35th overall with the help of the leadership provided by these two.

Kaitlyn McCoy and Mary Roediger – After the death of their coach, Maureen “Mo’’ Rankin in September after a brave battle with cancer, the Xavier swim and dive team reached down deep with one of the strongest, most emotional performances and won the state championship. McCoy won two final events for the second straight year and Roediger excelled in many of the relay events.

Other seniors on the swim and dive roster included Megan Brown, Thea Cartier, Kyle Gunzy, Taylor Guthrie, Kate Hubbard, Nicole Johnson and Alex Perez.

Kira Dean and Lauren Kessler – These two were right on target most of the year for the Xavier Hotshots in archery and clay-target shooting.

Other seniors on the Hotshots roster included Olivia Camargo, Domenique Chirumbolo, Taylor Lopez, Krista Potenza, Bella Ricardo Finch, Belen Santistevan, Siena Spilotro and Kyra Stehly.

Alexis Diaz-Infante, Alyna Draper, Ericka Snopko and Lanie Wagner – Diaz-Infante was an effective shot-blocker and all of these girls helped drive Xavier to the state championship in volleyball. Draper was the primary libero, while Snopko and Wagner were strong at the net. Wagner is among the finalists for Player of the Year that will be announced June 10 by

Payton Davis, Katie Hassett and Montana Oltrogge – Xavier defied the rest of the state and reached the state championship basketball game, finishing as runner-up. Izzy Wirth and Mary Long were valuable in reserve.

Mady Chait, Kinsey Ehmann, Nicole Hook and Abby Hubbard – The Fab Four seniors were in the middle of most of the action on the soccer field as Xavier earned its second straight state crown. Chait made one of the most memorable goals ever in a Senior Night win over Chandler Basha. Ehmann was steady in goal, Hook was a formidable defender and scored the winning (only) goal in the state title game, and Hubbard had the knack for putting the ball exactly where it needed to go. Ehmann also was a successful middle-distance runner in track.

Other seniors on the roster were Abby Castlen, Katie Hessell and Jessie Simmons.

Kailey Klein and Taylor Lopez – They were instrumental in helping Xavier reach the quarterfinals as the No. 5 seed before the Gators lost to eventual state champion Gilbert Perry.

Caylie Wagner – Xavier had an up-and-down season in lacrosse, but game-in, game-out, Wagner was one of the bright spots as the team’s leading scorer. Other seniors were Brooke Howard and Ashlyn Zale.

Jordan Bassett, Melissa Fedorka, Abby Rascon, Mercedes Silva and Kristiann Ferreira – Bassett was the catcher and hit cleanup for the softball team as the primary power source. Fedorka played first and got some big hits. Rascon and Silva worked hard in the pitching circle and Ferreira proved to be a valuable element in the outfield.

Caroline Armknecht, Maddy Corley and Kate Straneva – Xavier’s tennis assembly line produced three more seniors that helped the program earn the No. 3 seed at the state tournament. Straneva also achieved success as a cross-country runner in the fall.

Track and field – The aforementioned cross-country group was back for more in the spring, and Xavier had a strong relay runner and sprinter, Bisola Ojeniyi. Other athletes were Megan Brown, Izzy Estes, Kelly Jehle, Joyce Karekezi and Alley Vanderwey.

Gatorline – Farewell to seniors McKenzie Baker, Molly Brown, Ashley Cantrell, Grace Halter, Caroline Moore and Lauren Prebil.

Spiritline – The cheer won the state title while pom finished second. Seniors included Remy Feagles, Aydyn Hernandez, Claudia Gillem, Brooke Harris, Gabby Leier, Lulu Lundstedt, Grace McClain, Dani Rizzo, Brianna Roosevelt, Cami Schroeder and Tatum Webb.

XCP athletic trainer to receive service award

It will be summer soon and Xavier Prep’s Laurie White and her husband, Christopher, will be heading off to New Orleans, otherwise known as The Big Easy.

There is nothing easy about the reason that Mrs. White will be going She and her husband have jobs that are among the toughest around – as athletic trainers. She is in her 11th season at XCP and her husband has been at neighboring Brophy Prep for more than three decades.

Xavier athletic trainer Laurie White.
Athletic trainers must have a great deal of energy and maintain it throughout the day, every day, and sometimes on weekends.

A typical day has Mrs. White teaching some sports medicine classes, helping Xavier athletes get ready for a game for practice by taping their knees, elbows, ankles and nursing their wounds, advising the two college athletic trainers who assist her during the year, being ready to spring into action at the games (both with Xavier and visiting teams) and cleaning up afterward.

She also finds time to serve in various capacities with the Arizona Athletic Trainers Association, where she was elected to the organization’s Hall of Fame in 2015.

It is all about service – serving her students, athletes, coaches, other athletic trainers and her community in general.

In New Orleans at the National Athletic Trainers Association annual symposium, she and her husband will receive that organization’s Service Award together onstage. Nominations are through the Arizona association.

“If an athlete gets injured, it is rewarding to help get them back onto the field and have them play healthy,’’ Mrs. White said. “We want to help them out in whatever way we can.’’

Before coming to Xavier, Mrs. White worked in the Phoenix Union High School District (primarily Alhambra) and has had several of her students move on into the athletic-training profession, which is not the same as a sports trainer that supervises workouts at gyms, etc. One of Mrs. White’s most recent athletic-training students at Xavier, Isabella Johnson, is completing her freshman year at the University of Michigan.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Gators finish eighth in D-I state track & field meet

Xavier Prep survived the triple-digit temperatures to post a respectable eighth-place finish in Saturday’s (May 5) final day of the Division I state track meet at Mesa Community College.

The Gators scored 33 points. Chandler High won another championship with 185, followed by Phoenix Desert Vista with74 ½.

Xavier participated in several events during Wednesday’s (May 2) first day, and came back for more on Saturday.

Jada Sims finished eighth in the 100-meter hurdles at 15.41 seconds.

Xavier had four runners in the 1,600-meter run – Karina Hawkins 11th at 5:20.42, Mia Olsen 14th at 5:21.93, Jamie Stelnik 15th at 5:25.18 and Helen Innes 17th at 5:27.87.

Megan Zacher, who has developed into one of the state’s top middle-distance runners, offered a challenge for Chandler standout Morgan Foster in the 800-meter run. Foster finished first at 2:12.03, while Zacher was second at 2:14.36. XCP had two others in the event – Kinsey Ehmann was sixth at 2:20.63 and Sammy Braun was 21st at 2:27.97.

In the final event of the evening, Xavier finished fourth in the 4x400-meter relay. That group was comprised of Sims, Zacher, Sophie Brohard and Ehmann.

Chandler’s Jai Gruenwald was the meet’s top individual performer. The UCLA-bound athlete set a state record in the long jump and won both hurdles events as well as the triple jump.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Xavier tied for 4th in first day of D-I track & field

Chandler High appears in position to earn another Division I state track and field championship, but Xavier Prep is poised for a top-five finish after Wednesday’s (May 1) first day of the event at Mesa Community College.

Chandler High was the leader with 61 points, followed by Phoenix Desert Vista (28) and Gilbert Highland (22), with Xavier and Yuma Kofa tied for the fourth spot.

There were a handful of finals events run Wednesday, along with a long list of preliminaries.

Those who did well in the prelims advance to the finals on Saturday (May 5).

Junior Jada Sims, one of the most versatile athletes in the meet, finished second in the high jump finals at 5 feet, 7 inches and 17th in the long jump at 16-0 ¾. Javelin was official for the first time, and Xavier’s Kendall Swanson was 24th at 69 feet.

Xavier finished third in the 4x800-meter relay final, behind Chandler High and Chandler Hamilton. The Gators’ team of Megan Zacher, Sammy Braun, Karina Hawkins and Kinsey Ehmann covered the distance in 9:28.80.

The Gators had two runners in the final of the 3,200-meter run. Mia Olsen was seventh in 11:15.58 and Jamie Stelnik was ninth in 11:19.78.

Xavier’s 4x400-meter relay team had the fourth-best time in the prelims (3:59.54) and qualified for Saturday’s final.  The members of that group are Sims, Zacher, Sophie Brohard and Ehmann. Zacher also will run in the 800 final on Saturday.

Sims qualified No. 6 in the 100-meter hurdles prelims. She had a time of 15:21.1.

Xavier also got a good effort from its 4x100-meter relay team, but unfortunately did not qualify. That team was Bisola Ojeniyi, Leila Grant, Johnnie Mitchell and Ololade Adebayo.

Saturday’s schedule has the field events beginning at 11:30 a.m. Running events begin at 2:30 p.m., with the last one starting at approximately 8 p.m.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Strong Chaparral tennis team eliminates Gators

It is difficult for a tennis team to defeat a high-caliber opponent such as Scottsdale Chaparral twice in the same season.

Xavier Prep’s girls discovered that to be the case on Tuesday (May 1) in a Division I state quarterfinal match at XCP.

The Gators, who had defeated the Firebirds 5-4 in a match on March 7 at Xavier, encountered a Chaparral team near the top of its game and were eliminated 5-2.

Sixth-seeded Chaparral now goes on to meet No. 2 Chandler Hamilton in one semifinal match on Friday (May 4) at Scottsdale Ranch Park. The other semi will feature top-seeded defending champion Scottsdale Desert Mountain and No. 5 Mesa Mountain View.

Meanwhile, third-seeded Xavier finishes its season with a more-than-respectable 13-3 record.

Xavier’s singles lineup looked closer to the version that began the season, with junior Tristanne Dechoux returning to the top spot after missing at least a month with shoulder difficulties.

Dechoux looked good at times, but opponent Grace Koester’s power game was too much to overcome as Koester scored a 6-0, 6-1 win.

Sophomore Erica Stutz, who had been playing No. 1 in many of the late-season matches, was in the No. 2 slot this time against Gabi Moss. Stutz lost the first set 7-5, won the second 6-2 and dropped the third, 6-0.

Sophomore Kate Even, Stutz’s doubles partner, was No. 3 in the order and was defeated by the Firebirds’ Anya Ramras, 6-2, 6-3.

The highlight of the day for Xavier came in the No. 4 spot. Senior Maddy Corley played a wonderful match, perhaps her best of the season, and posted a 6-3, 6-1 win over Cassie Seminoff, who had defeated Corley earlier in the season.

Playing on a nearby court, sophomore Lorelei Glidden, continued to display good court sense and overall maturity with a 6-3, 6-1 triumph over Ana Ramsook.

The singles wrapped up with Chaparral’s Erin Hannen picking up a 6-1, 6-1 win over Gator junior Kate Stegman.

So Chaparral had a 4-2 lead after singles, creating a daunting task for Xavier. The Gators would have had to win all three doubles matches to take the match.

It didn’t happen as Koester and Ramras coasted to an 8-1 victory over Stutz and Even. Another match between the four was supposed to have been played in the individual state tournament semifinals over the weekend, but one of the Chaparral players fell ill to force a default.

Xavier looks to have another strong team for next season. The program has won 18 state championships, the last in 2015, and has several runner-up finishes.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Zacher gives Xavier track plenty of zip

Megan Zacher has kissed the state soccer championship trophy for Xavier Prep. Now she would like nothing better than to hang a first-place medal around her neck at this week’s Division I state track meet.

Zacher, a sophomore, has three chances to accomplish that – in the 800-meter run, the 4x800 relay and the 4x400 relay.

The meet will run Wednesday (May 2) and Saturday (May 5). Wednesday’s schedule will consist mainly of preliminary events, but there will be a few final races thrown in, such as the 4x800.

Zacher will be running in the 4x800 for the first time this season after helping the Gators finish second in the event a year ago. She is expected to be the leadoff leg, followed by freshman Sammy Braun, junior Karina Hawkins and senior Kinsey Ehmann, Zacher’s friend and soccer teammate.

Xavier sophomore Megan Zacher has a passion for running and, as the shirt says, soccer. (Photo by Don Ketchum).
The preliminaries for the 4x400 will be held Wednesday, with finals on Saturday. Zacher likely will run second in that one, behind junior Jada Sims and ahead of sophomore Sophie Brohard and Ehmann.

In the 800 that will be run Saturday, Zacher is coming off one of her strongest races of the year in the recent Northeast Valley Championships. Zacher will be attempting to outperform favorite Morgan Foster of Chandler High. Ehmann and Braun also should be in that race.

“I am motivated to do better, do my best, each time out there,’’ said Zacher, who finished 15th as a freshman. “I think I am showing more maturity.

“In the relays, we have that passion, have that drive. We have good team chemistry and when you go out there to run, you are doing it for your teammates.’’

Her success in the 800 “is just doing what comes naturally. I think about strategy, but you don’t want to think too much. Once you get out on the track, you have to be ready. Sometimes I get some nervous energy before, but once the race starts, it usually goes away.’’

Because her mother was a runner in college, Zacher has inherited those traits.

She began running competitively as a freshman, and played on Xavier’s JV soccer team. She moved up to varsity soccer last winter, where she played left back.

Xavier head track and field coach Dave Van Sickle also coaches the school’s cross-country team, and says he has “lobbied’’ to get her to join.

Even if he can’t win her over, he will be happy to have her in track.

“She’s got that long stride and she is going to be really good,’’ he said.

Sprints coach Ryan Regula said Zacher “is doing a great job. She is really a competitor, really self-driven.’’

Zacher’s workouts usually are for speed one day, endurance the next.

“You need both,’’ she said.

To win a state track event or two and as a team “would show that your hard work really pays off. It would be amazing.’’

Others to watch – Mia Olsen, Karina Hawkins, Helen Innes and Jamie Stelnik in the 1,600, Bisola Ojeniyi,Leila Grant, Johnnie Mitchell and Ololade Adebayo on the 4x100 relay, Olsen, Stelnik and Innes in the 3,200, Kendall Swanson in the javelin, Sims in the high jump, long jump, 100-meter hurdles and the 4x400 and Grant in the 300 intermediate hurdles.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Free trip to finals doesn't help Gator doubles

Xavier Prep’s third-seeded doubles team of Erica Stutz and Emily Even were preparing to meet second-seeded Grace Koester and Anya Ramras of Scottsdale Chaparral in the semifinals of the Division I state tennis tournament on Saturday (April 28) when Xavier coach Laurie Martin received a phone call from a Chaparral coach.

Koester and Ramras would not be able to play in the semifinals because one of them was ill, according to Martin, thereby defaulting and allowing the Xavier duo to advance to the championship match.

So instead of playing at approximately 11:30 a.m., the Xavier girls had to wait close to two more hours until the other semifinal had been completed.

The winner of that other semi, top-seeded Josie Frazier and McKenna Koenig of Scottsdale Desert Mountain, defeated fourth-seeded Lindsey Pesqueira and Sophie Lopez of Tucson Rincon/University.

 Even though the temperature was in the mid-90s, the Desert Mountain girls didn’t need a whole lot of time to replenish themselves afterward. Frazier grabbed a cold bottle of water and Koenig munched on a small piece of citrus before going back out.

They made a quick turnaround and had plenty of energy left, rolling to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Stutz and Even at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale.

“There is a reason why they were seeded No. 1,’’ said Xavier coach Laurie Martin. “They are both among the top 100 players in the country.’’

Some might think it is more beneficial to sit out, strategize and conserve energy as the Xavier girls did. Others think it is better to pretty much go directly from one match to another.

Martin did not think the scenario was that much of an issue.

“Most of these girls play in a lot of different kinds (non-school in the summer) tournaments, so they are adaptive,’’ she said.

Stutz and Even are sophomores and are a bit ahead of the curve, experience- and skill-wise.

“It’s still kind of hard trying to warm up and then sitting and waiting,’’ said Stutz, who finished as the consolation champion in singles as a freshman last season.

Even admitted that “it was kind of a shocker. We were both preparing mentally and then you have to pull it back a little bit.

“Still, even if we had played and won in the semi, we knew the team we would play in the final would be very difficult.’’

It seemed that Frazier and Koening were all over the court. Wherever the Gators tried to place the ball, one of them was there for the return, often where the Xavier-ites couldn’t reach it.

“It was great for our players to play a team like that. They (Desert Mountain girls) are both strong players,’’ Martin said. “Wherever they go, whatever kind of shot they take, they don’t miss much.’’

The team portion of the state tournament resumes on Tuesday (May 1) and Desert Mountain, the defending state champion, is seeded No. 1. The Wolves will play host to No. 8 Chandler Basha. Xavier, meanwhile, is seeded third and will have a home match against No. 6 Chaparral. Start time is 3 p.m. for both.

Friday, April 27, 2018

All-Gator tennis match sends Stutz, Even to semis

The circumstances of this particular Division I tennis quarterfinal double match were a bit unusual.

The two teams broke bread together at lunch and after the match was over, they embraced instead of simply shaking hands, not what you might expect from teams that battled in the heat for more than 90 minutes.

There was good reason for this.

These two teams represented the same school – Xavier Prep – and represented it well.

The third-seeded Gator team of sophomores Erica Stutz and Emily Even defeated sixth-seeded senior Kate Straneva and sophomore Lorelei Glidden, 6-2, 6-4, at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale on Friday (April 27).

Stutz and Even will play a semifinal match at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday (April 28) at Paseo, meeting No. 2 seed Grace Koester and Anya Ramras of Scottsdale Chaparral. That also could be a preview of the team portion of the tournament when Chaparral visits Xavier on Tuesday (May 1).

Win or lose, Stutz and Even will have a second match on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. That will be the starting time of the state championship match as well as the consolation championship match.

Stutz and Even met Straneva and Glidden at a restaurant near the Xavier campus. Chances are that neither team learned anything new that could help them in the match. Stutz kept things simple with a grilled cheese.

She and Even had enough energy to take the match, but it might have been a little tougher than they expected. Stutz assured that she would have enough energy left for Saturday.

“The heat doesn’t bother me that much,’’ she said.

Even said her goal was to “relax and have fun.’’

She and her teammate complimented Straneva and Glidden for their competitiveness, and that Straneva showed good strength at the net.

“It was really fun out there,’’ Straneva said.

Said Glidden: “We were excited to play our own team. We were both seeded and that doesn’t happen very often.’’

Straneva added that she and Glidden didn’t think they would get this far, but was pleased that they played well.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Softball shut out in play-in, lacrosse also falls

Xavier Prep’s softball team, playing Tucson High in Tucson as a “play-in’’ game leading up to the actual Division VI state tournament finished its season with a 4-0 defeat to the Badgers on Wednesday (April 25).

Xavier, seeded No. 23 out of 24 teams, had a 4-17-2 record. Tucson was seeded 10th and now at 19-12 advances to the first round of the state tournament on Saturday (April 28).

Tucson’s Alyssa Carpio tossed a five-hitter against the Gators. Sophomore Katie Donahey had two hits, while senior Jordan Bassett, freshman Macy Lee and sophomore Cameron Martin each had one hit.

Tucson scored twice in the first inning against XCP pitcher Abby Rascon, and the Gators tried to play catch-up the rest of the way.

Lacrosse – Xavier’s club lacrosse team finished its regular season on Wednesday night with a 12-11 loss to visiting Chandler Hamilton.

Xavier posted a 6-10 record and has a remote chance to be the sixth and final team to reach the playoffs. Pairings have yet to be announced.

Tennis – The individual singles and doubles portion of the Division I state tournament resumes on Friday (April 27) at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale.

Xavier has two doubles teams remaining, and they will play each other in a quarterfinal match at approximately 3:30 p.m. The two teams are No. 3 seed Erica Stutz and Emily Even, both sophomores, and No. 6 Kate Straneva (senior) and sophomore Lorelei Glidden.

The winner advances to a semifinal match on Saturday at approximately 11:30 a.m.

Beach volleyball joy ride comes to an end

When Tim McHale agreed to begin a beach volleyball program at Xavier Prep about seven years ago, he worked, worked, and worked some more to make the Gators as strong in the sand as they had been in the gym when he coached the school’s indoor team.

Xavier became the class of the sport in short order. In fact, the Gators won the first six state titles in the sport’s existence in Arizona.

It is doubtful he would admit it, but in the back of his mind, he probably knew that at some point, the joy ride would come to an end. More and more schools were starting programs and the players were learning the game at a faster rate.

Title try No. 7 was not a lucky number for the Gators. Seeded fifth, they were eliminated by No. 4 Gilbert Perry on Wednesday (April 25) in a quarterfinal match at the Seville Country Club in Gilbert. Perry left little doubt which was the better team, at least on this day, taking a decisive 4-1 victory.

Xavier finished the season at 10-3. The Gators had defeated Perry 3-2 at Xavier on April 13, but could not muster up much of anything this time around.

Perry continues to have its chance to replace the Gators in the champion’s chair, but first would have to defeat top-seeded Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor in the semifinals on Tuesday (May 1) and either No. 3 Goodyear Millennium or No. 7 Tempe Corona del Sol in the finals on May 3. All remaining games are at Gilbert Mesquite.

“Deep down, it’s hard to face a reality like this,’’ McHale said. “You fight and you claw and you try to keep it going, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.’’

Part of the Gators’ plan on Wednesday was to “make them (Perry) uncomfortable in their own home, but we didn’t do that,’’ McHale said.

Every Xavier team fell short except for the No. 3 team of freshman Serena Turner and sophomore Abby Converse.

“We are humbled, and we need to be hungry (for next season),’’ McHale said. “It’s back to the chess board.’’

An encouraging note is that the team loses just two seniors to graduation, meaning 14 players, some with significant experience, will return.

“We bonded as a team, but we need to find a way to become a little more driven,’’ McHale said. “At times during the season, we seemed a little adrift.’’

The coach addressed the team at length afterward, and assistants Sue Contreras and Kristen Preach also passed along their observations.

“We’re going to have to do some soul-searching and think about what we can do better,’’ McHale told the Gators. “It’s all about team.

“We will have to be focused even though we did not win. There is still an “X’’ on our backs because we have been consistent and teams still want to beat us because we are Xavier.’’

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Beach volleyball earns sweep in first round

It was a suh-weet suh-weep for Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball team.

The fifth-seeded Gators won both games in all of their five matches on Tuesday (April 24), advancing in the Division I state tournament with a 5-0 win over No. 12 Gilbert Mesquite at the Cavanaugh Courts.

Xavier, which has won all six state titles in the history of the sport in Arizona, will face No. 4 seed Gilbert Perry in a quarterfinal match at the Seville Country Club in Gilbert on Wednesday (April 25) at 4:30 p.m.

The winner of the quarterfinal match will move on to the semifinals on May 1 at Mesquite and will meet either top-seeded Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor or No. 8 Tucson Ironwood Ridge.

Xavier played one of its best matches of the season against Mesquite.

Each team won by a substantial margin in all of its games except for one, when the No. 2 team of junior Shannon Shields and senior Kailey Klein came back for a narrow 23-21 win in their second game to keep the streak intact.

Note – Sophomore Abby Converse has been selected by the Arizona Interscholastic Association to represent Xavier at the National Federation Student Leadership Conference to be held in Indianapolis this summer.

First-round results

Xavier Prep 5, Gilbert Mesquite 0

No. 5 – Analy Carbine-Lauren Lykins def. Mesquite 21-10, 21-15.

No. 4 – Lydia Rush-Grace Lincoln def. Mesquite 21-11, 21-14.

No. 3 – Serena Turner-Abby Converse def. Mesquite 21-13, 21-12.

No. 2 – Shannon Shields-Kailey Klein def. Mesquite 21-14, 23-21.

No. 1 – Trinity Cavanaugh-Taylor Lopez def. Mesquite 21-8, 21-15.

Xavier tennis, lacrosse score victories

Third-seeded Xavier Prep didn’t waste much time in dispensing No. 14 Yuma Cibola in a 5-0 opening-round victory in the Division I state team tennis tournament on Tuesday (April 24) at Xavier.

Singles players Erica Stutz, Emily Even, Maddy Corley, Lorelei Glidden and Kate Straneva all won handily in their matches.

Xavier now advances to the quarterfinals and will meet No. 4 seed Scottsdale Chaparral on Tuesday (May 1) at Xavier. Xavier edged Chaparral 5-4 in a match at XCP on March 7.

Lacrosse – The XCP club team defeated visiting Tempe Corona del Sol 17-9 on Tuesday (April 24) and will play its final regular-season match on Wednesday (April 25) at home against Chandler Hamilton. Xavier’s record is 6-9.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

XCP softball earns trip to Tucson

Despite falling 5-2 to visiting Gilbert Perry in its regular season finale on Monday (April 23), Xavier Prep’s softball team lives to fight another day.

The Gators qualified for the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s “play-in’’ round on Wednesday (April 25) as the No. 23 team (out of 24). They will play at No. 10 Tucson High. Xavier is 4-16-2, Tucson 18-12.

The winner would qualify for the final bracket of 16 teams and the first round that begins Saturday (April 28) at the sites of the highest seeds.

So anything can happen.

The Gators struggled for much of the early season, but played much better down the stretch.

“The way we have played the last couple of weeks, we have made significant improvements,’’ said XCP coach Carrie Markham. “We were a young team going in, but the younger players have shown that they don’t think they are young players anymore.’’

Xavier seems to be hitting the ball better, as evidenced by a 9-1 win over Chandler High on April 20, a triumph that essentially got them to the No. 23 spot. They collected seven hits against Perry.

Against Tucson, Markham will choose between seniors Mercedes Silva and Abby Rascon as her pitcher, or a combination of the two.

On Monday, Perry scored a run in the top of the first inning on a disputed call.

With two outs, the Pumas’ Piper Lujan hit an opposite-field shot to right. Xavier right fielder Kristiann Ferreira went back near the fence and raised her arms to signal that the ball bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double rather than going over on the fly for a home run.

The field umpire ruled that the ball went over on the fly, but Xavier coaches contended that the ball bounced through an opening in the Fiberglas-type fence.

Perry scored again in the top of the second, and the Gators looked as though they might have a chance to tie in the bottom of the second. With one out, they had runners at first and third, but they were left stranded.

Xavier did manage to score its first run in the third inning, cutting Perry’s lead to 2-1.

Lizzie Marino led off with a double and scored on Jordan Bassett’s two-out single.

In the fifth, Perry had a runner at third that appeared would be an out after she strayed too far off the bag. Bassett, the catcher, threw to third baseman Macy Lee, who made the tag. But the same umpire who earlier ruled on the Perry home run called Lee for obstruction on the baseline and the runner was allowed to remain at third. Xavier again protested, but to no avail.

Silva, however, bailed her team out by striking out three straight batters with runners at third and second.

Perry took a 5-1 lead in the top of the sixth on a solo home run and a two-run shot.

Silva provided Xavier’s final run in the sixth with an RBI groundout that scored Melissa Fedorka, who began the inning with an opposite-field triple to left.

“Play-in’’ softball games

(Seedings in parentheses)

All games on Wednesday (April 25) at 4 p.m.

Phoenix Alhambra (24) at Chandler Basha (9), Chandler High (17) at Gilbert Highland (16), Phoenix Desert Vista (18) at Gilbert High (15), Yuma Kofa (21) at Phoenix Mountain Pointe (12), Glendale Mountain Ridge (22) at Mesa Desert Ridge (11), Avondale Westview (20) at Anthem Boulder Creek (13), Tucson Sunnyside (19) at Tucson Rincon/University (14), Xavier Prep (23) at Tucson High (10).

Sunday, April 22, 2018

"Flo'' fights, is true inspiration for everyone

Her hair is back. The smile, however, never left Kylie Rodgers, nor did her will to survive.

As the sun sets Monday (April 23) on a long, arduous season for her Xavier Prep softball teammates, it is rising for Rodgers. The junior is resuming her life that was tragically turned upside down by a 14-month duel with Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of cancer.

The disease primarily affects teens and people in their early 20s. Unlike many tumors that attach themselves to the outside of the bones and/or tissue, this particular tumor grew inside Kylie’s bone in her right femur and hip. Treatment involved chemotherapy as well as surgery to replace the affected bones with titanium.

Kylie first noticed some pain in her leg in January of 2017, about a month or so before her sophomore season at Xavier was supposed to start. With two key older pitchers graduated from her freshman season, she had a good chance to see a lot of time in the circle for the Gators.

“I thought it was just some tendinitis or something, nothing too serious. I was on crutches, but I didn’t think it would be very long, maybe six weeks at the most,’’ Kylie said.

Kylie had stopped most of her softball activity because she still had pain that included some discomfort in her back.

“Three months of not really getting any better,’’ she said.

She had MRIs and finally a biopsy.

She went on a trip to Washington D.C. with her family during spring break.

Her mother, Mary Kay, received a call with bad news.


“The whole thing seemed like an out-of-body experience,’’ Kylie said.

From April until the surgery in late July at Phoenix Childrens Hospital, there were all sorts of tests and evaluations and chemotherapy.

In an interview on FOXSPORTSAZ, her mother said there was no hesitation for Kylie, that she told her mother and father, Blake, “that she was going to beat this thing.’’

“My (Xavier) coaches and teammates were the first ones there for me, and have been there ever since. They have all been great,’’ Kylie said.

Kylie Rodgers: "I have been given a new lease on life and I don't take anything for granted.'' (Photo by Don Ketchum).

Because some of her treatments affected her immune system, Kylie could not return to Xavier out of fear she would pick up the flu or cold or something that would set her back. Her mother, who has been a teacher, helped her with her studies, and Kylie said she also was helped by suggestions from her XCP teachers.

Kylie moved to Arizona from Jacksonville, Fla., in between her eighth grade and freshman years.

In Florida, she lived in a big cul de sac that had as many as 40 kids also living there, she said.
Coming to Arizona was a big adjustment, particularly to new students. Before the move, she acquired the nickname of “Flo,’’ a reference to Florida, and that later would become part of her rallying cry – “Fight Like Flo.’’

It is printed on T-shirts, and she and her family are working on a “Fight Like Flo Foundation,’’ in which she wants to help raise funds and provide assistance to young people who experience similar obstacles.

According to Kylie, there only are about 137 people her age nationally who have this form of the disease.

Even before getting cancer, she had the idea of working in the field of medicine, and now will increase the focus to pediatric oncology, “where I can help kids who go through this and maybe even save some lives.’’

She returned to school after spring break, completing a year cycle since the diagnosis. She helps out the softball program as a team manager and does all sorts of things such as shag balls during practice and pre-game warm-ups and runs errands. She still has a slight limp, but it is barely noticeable. She also does laundry for some of the seniors (“my mom has been having me do laundry since I was 8’’) and provided water and hair ties to those players who might have forgotten them.

“I want to help them the way they have helped me,’’ Kylie said.

The ultimate goal is to return to the pitching circle next season. She knows it will be a long road, but her parents told FOXSPORTSAZ that if anyone is capable of such a comeback, it is her. Her dad said he would not want to be the batter to step in the box and face Kylie for the first time since the surgery.

She is looking forward to what the future will bring.

She will continue to have rehabilitation at least twice a week. She wants to follow her younger brother, Noah, who will be a freshman at neighboring Brophy Prep and hopes to play baseball.

Maintaining good grades as a senior will be another goal. Although she still has another year before graduating, Kylie also is evaluating college possibilities. She said it likely will be somewhere on the West Coast, perhaps a place such as Stanford, California (Berkeley) or Washington. She wants to stay close to Arizona because she will have to return to Phoenix every three months for scans to make sure she is clear.

Staying in good shape should help.

“I can still ride a bike, swim and do yoga,’’ Kylie said.

Looking at the entire picture, she said, “I have been given a new lease on life and I don’t take anything for granted.

“I definitely want to play again. It depends on how my leg responds to the therapy. I’m not allowed to run yet. If I don’t get to play, I still will be supporting my teammates. But I’m going to do everything in my power to get back out there.’’

Fifth-seeded Gators host 1st-round beach contest

Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball team, which has won state championships in each of the six seasons of the sport’s existence in Arizona, begins quest for No. 7 when the Division I state tournament begins on Tuesday (April 24).

The Gators (9-2 overall) are seeded fifth and will play host to 12th-seeded Gilbert Mesquite at 4:30 p.m. at the Cavanaugh Family Courts just south across Meadowbrook Avenue from Petznick Field.

The winner will face the winner of a first-round match between No. 13 Chandler High and No. 4 Gilbert Perry on Wednesday (April 25). If it is Xavier vs. Chandler, the second round would be at Xavier. If it is Xavier vs. Perry, the contest would be at Perry.

The first-round Division I schedule . . .

No. 16 Chandler Hamilton at No. 1 Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, No. 9 Glendale Deer Valley at No. 8 Tucson Ironwood Ridge, No. 12 Gilbert Mesquite at No. 5 Xavier Prep, No. 13 Chandler High at No. 4 Gilbert Perry, No. 14 Glendale Mountain Ridge at No. 3 Goodyear Millennium, No. 11 Phoenix Arcadia at No. 6 Phoenix Sunnyslope, No. 10 Flagstaff Coconino at No. 7 Tempe Corona del Sol, No. 15 Surprise Valley Vista at No. 2 Tucson Salpointe Catholic.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

State tennis doubles like looking in a mirror

Sophomore Lorelei Glidden was excited that she and her Xavier Prep doubles teammate, senior Kate Straneva, won their third-round match in the Division I state tournament on Saturday (April 21) at Gene Autry Park in Mesa, earning a spot in next Friday’s (April 27) quarterfinals.

Glidden and Straneva are the sixth-seeded team, and they will play the No. 3 seed in the next round.

If the opponent looks familiar, they should.

In a strange twist of fate, Glidden and Straneva will face none other than their Xavier teammates, sophomores Erica Stutz and Emily Even, at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Friday at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale.

The winner would advance to the semifinals next Saturday morning (April 28) at Paseo. Semifinal winners meet for the title later that afternoon.

“We are excited for the chance,’’ Glidden said.

Said Straneva: “At first, we didn’t even think we were going to be in the tournament, then we got the six seed. Now this is the next step.’’

The two Xavier teams played a bit against each other back at Xavier on Saturday morning as they prepared for their mid-day matches across town.

Glidden and Straneva defeated Melia Menke and Alexis Markan of Phoenix Pinnacle, 6-1, 6-2. Stutz and Even defeated Elly Klages and Jordan Witter of Chandler Basha, 6-0, 6-2.

“Being the No. 6 seed means Lorelei and Kate would have had to play a tough match, anyway, but it’s kind of unfortunate that it has to be their own team,’’ said Xavier coach Laurie Martin.

So will the teams do some “trash talking’’ this coming week?

“Yes, probably, the whole nine yards,’’ Even said. “It’s going to be fun.’’

Martin said Glidden and Straneva complement each other well.

“It will be tough for them,’’ Martin said. “There are some things that they do very well. Lorelei sets up good shots when she’s working along the baseline, and Kate does a good job of finishing out shots near the net.’’

Straneva and Even also have a good working relationship.  They have been playing together for quite some time and did so at the Junior Team Tennis national tournament in Orlando in September. Stutz also played singles. Even earned a sportsmanship award that included the whole country.

While both players are well-rounded, Even looked good at the net and Stutz along the baseline with a strong power game. Even said she had been working with some of the Xavier coaches, having them hit higher shots toward the middle of the court while she attempted to get in position to return them.

The things that help them set the tone for the match, according to Stutz, are strong serves.

“If you get your serves in from the beginning, you have a good chance to win,’’ she said.

Softball seniors get lovely parting gift -- a win!

On senior night Friday (April 20), Xavier Prep’s softball team came up with one of its best all-around efforts of the season in a 9-1 victory over visiting Chandler High at Petznick Field.

The Gators turned around and defeated a Chandler team that had defeated Xavier 8-5 the day before on a three-run walk-off home run in the seventh inning.

With its win on Friday, Xavier is now 4-15-1 with one game remaining in the regular season – on Monday at home against Gilbert Perry.
One out to go for a big Xavier win (Photos by Sr. Lynn Winsor).
The seniors honored were outfielder Kristiann Ferreira, pitcher-infielder Mercedes Silva, catcher Jordan Bassett, pitcher-outfielder Abby Rascon and first baseman Melissa Fedorka.

During ceremonies after the game, the seniors received gift baskets and posed for photos with their families.

Xavier's five softball seniors and their families. From left, Kristiann Ferreira, Melissa Fedorka, Jordan Bassett, Abby Rascon and Mercedes Silva.

Bassett drove in three runs with a two-run home run and a double, Fedorka had a pair of doubles and an RBI, and Rascon gave up just four hits while striking out three.

Xavier scored its first two runs in the opening inning on a two-run double by freshman Macy Lee.

The Gators’ big inning was the fifth, when they scored five times.

Fedorka, Bassett and Cameron Martin each drove in a run and the other two came across on a wild pitch and a passed ball.

Bassett’s home run came in the sixth, a shot to center after Fedorka hit a double off the shortstop’s glove.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Gators seeded No. 3 in state team tennis

Xavier Prep’s tennis team will be the No. 3 seed in the Division I state team tournament that begins Tuesday (April 24).

The Gators will open with a home match, against 14th-seeded Yuma Cibola at 3 p.m. The winner will advance to the quarterfinals on May 1 against either No. 11 Tempe Corona del Sol or No. 6 Scottsdale Chaparral.

Semifinals are May 4 at Scottsdale Ranch Park and finals are May 5 at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale.

Defending state champion Scottsdale Desert Mountain is seeded No. 1 and Chandler Hamilton is No. 2.

The individual singles and doubles portion of the state tournament begins Friday (April 20) and continues on Saturday (April 21) at the Gene Autry Park in northeast Mesa.

Gilbert lacrosse tops Gators with big 2nd half

Xavier Prep’s club lacrosse team scored the tying goal against visiting Gilbert High less than a minute into the second half on Wednesday night (April 18), but things fell apart after that as Gilbert rolled to a 12-5 victory.

Gilbert (8-5) outscored the Gators 8-2 in the second half to defeat XCP (5-8) for the second time this season.

Now the Gators have their toughest challenge of the season, traveling to face No. 1 unbeaten Chaparral (14-0) on Thursday night (April 19). Chaparral defeated Xavier 16-4 on March 19.

Five different players scored goals for Xavier against Gilbert.

Caylie Wagner was the first, netting her team-leading 38th of the season. Kit Blouin was next, followed by Sarah Minton (25th of the season), Emma Tawney and Grace Martinez.

After facing Chaparral, Xavier will finish the regular season with two home games, against Tempe Corona del Sol on Tuesday (April 24) and against Chandler Hamilton on Wednesday (April 25).