DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four 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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Badminton, golf, frosh tennis show excellence

Xavier Prep continued its early fall sports success on Tuesday (Aug. 30) with victories in badminton, golf and freshman tennis.
The badminton team won its third match in a row, 9-0, over visiting Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor. The junior varsity won 8-1. The golf team defeated visiting Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep, 144-173, in a home match at the Phoenix Country Club. And the freshman “Blue’’ team opened its season with a 6-3 win over visiting Notre Dame.
Upcoming matches – Golf vs. Glendale Mountain Ridge on Wednesday (Aug. 30) at the 500 Club in Glendale and participates in the annual Aguila tournament at the Aguila Golf Course in Laveen on Thursday (Sept. 1). Badminton at Mesa Mountain View on Thursday. Frosh tennis “White’’ at Corona del Sol on Wednesday. “Blue’’ at Tempe Marcos de Niza and “White’’ at Gilbert Perry, both on Thursday.

Emily Woodrow won 11-6, 11-7.
Tatum Clarke won 11-7, 11-8.
Annie Kamps won 11-4, 11-4.
Kiana Valentove-Macdonald won 11-0, 11-0.
Maddie Reinhart won 13-12, 11-3.
Misaal Irfan won 11-5, 11-2.
Woodrow-Valentove-Macdonald won 15-6, 15-5.
Clarke-Kamps won 15-1, 15-6.
Reinhart-Irfan won 6-15, 15-10, 15-12.

Ashley Menne 35 (medalist), Elizabeth Caldarelli 36, Eve Worden 36, Emily Mahar 37, Lily Worden 39.

Blue team singles
Emily Even won 8-0.
Izzy Kozub lost 8-6.
Natasha Juhl won 8-1.
Katherine Tamer lost 8-4.
Grace Haak won 8-0.
Mira Camunez won 8-1.
Blue team doubles
Even-Kozub won 8-6.
Juhl-Tamer lost 8-6.
Haak-Camunez won 8-1.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Gators open volleyball season with sweep

Xavier Prep’s Gators were a bit sleepy when the alarm went off that signaled the start of the 2016-17 volleyball season on Tuesday night (Aug. 30).
But they did not hit the snooze button, nor did they hit the panic button.
Xavier gave up the first four points of the opening set of the best-of-five match against host Mesa Mountain View and trailed 7-2. The Gators then scored five straight points against the Toros. They later went on an 8-0 run to win going away 25-14, and finished off the match in quick fashion by taking the last two, 25-5 and 25-17.
How quick was it?
The contest lasted just about an hour and when fans went to the parking lot, the western sky still had a glow, as dusk began to settle in.
Xavier entered the contest as the No. 3-ranked preseason team by in the new 6A Conference, behind old Division I state champion Phoenix Desert Vista and the Gators’ rival in the new 6A Premier Region, Chandler Hamilton.
In addition, XCP senior middle blocker Makena Patterson was listed as one of the top 25 players to watch in the state by
The 6-foot-4 Patterson had a solid effort against Mountain View, but she wasn’t flying solo. She had plenty of help.
“We came out nervous, but we got in a grove and we were good to go,’’ said Gators coach Lamar-Renee Bryant. “Once we got going, you could see what we are capable of doing.’’
Another senior middle blocker, Emma Gelinas, played well defensively. Bryant played junior Alyna Draper and senior Emma Cisneros-Luebke at libero, and a third candidate for that spot, sophomore Ashley Yeung contributed with some good serves.
Senior Kristen Klein also served well, and junior outside hitter Lanie Wagner was a big factor at the net.
“She (Wagner) got some big swings in for us,’’ Bryant said.
Xavier begins its home season at the Activity Center on Thursday night (Sept. 1) against Goodyear Millennium, ranked eighth in the preseason.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Xavier swimmers, divers have fresh start

The Xavier Prep swimmers and divers are ready to take the plunge.
The Gators will have their first official meet of the season on Thursday (Sept. 1), when Anthem Boulder Creek comes to the Brophy Pool. Events begin at 4 p.m.
Xavier has been practicing for a little more than two weeks under the guidance of new coach Maureen “Mo’’ Rankin.
Rankin has been around the sport for many years, including time as a coach at the Phoenix Swim Club. So she knows how to balance the hard work with the fun aspects.
The coach spent the early days of workouts pacing back and forth on the deck, urging her swimmers to build up their endurance through conditioning and maintain the proper techniques. Most of the girls have competed in club swimming and continue to work with those teams, even in the fall.
“We have about 34 swimmers out, including about 16 returnees,’’ Rankin said.
“We have good representation in all of the events, including some good young swimmers, and it is exciting.’’
The seniors are the smallest group this year, and freshmen the largest, Rankin said.
“Some will be going to state for the first time, and that’s one of the fun parts of it,’’ she said.
“We have a good group and haven’t had any problems. I guess it is a different atmosphere than in some past years. I am told by people who have been around awhile that these girls appear to be more focused. It’s more of a team atmosphere.’’

Xavier swim and dive roster – 2016
**Denotes diver.
Quinn Blake, Sr.; Megan Brown, Jr.; Morgan Brown, Fr.; **Molly Cahill, Soph.; Maddie Campbell, Sr.; Samantha Cardinal, Fr.; Clare Carlson, Soph.; Thea Cartier, Jr.; Lulu Castro, Soph.; Ava DiStefano, Sr.; **Talle Donley, Soph.; Vica Dow, Fr.; Isabel Gomez, Soph.; Kyle Gunzy, Jr.; Taylor Guthrie, Jr.; Charlotte Heffron, Fr.; Carlie Hermann, Fr.; Kate Hubbard, Jr.; Haley Hubbard, Fr.; Maggie Hull, Soph.; **Hannah Jemsek, Fr.; Nicole Johnson, Jr.; Jocelyn Jones, Sr.; Mia Joslin, Fr.; Nina LaFave, Soph.; Audrey Lamp, Fr.; **Alyssa Largay, Soph.; Kaitlyn McCoy, Jr.; Lilly Nolan, Fr.; **Camryn Olhausen, Sr.; Olivia Paliscak, Fr.; Emili Palmisano, Fr.; Alex Perez, Jr.; Mady Perich, Soph.; **Isabella Plumb, Soph.; Mary Roediger, Jr.; Gracie Schumacher, Fr.; **Mady Sewell, Fr.; Riley Smith, Jr.; Veronica Tanner, Fr.; Katherine Whitlow, Fr.; Cat Worth, Soph.; Maddie Wright, Fr.

Trio of senior swimmers poised to lead

Here is a look at three top senior swimmers for Xavier who are expected to lead the team with their experience and ability in the water. They are Quinn Blake, Maddie Campbell and Jocelyn Jones.
Quinn Blake
She is looking forward to competing in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke.
The team is expected to “be in the pool more,’’ she said, rather than put a lot of focus on “dry-land training’’ such as being in the weight room.
“We should be in the pool pretty much right away and I think that we are more serious, really focused because of it,’’ Blake said.
Because there are so many freshmen this season, that puts more emphasis on the leadership of Blake and the older swimmers.
“It is our job to help them feel more comfortable,’’ Blake said. “And that goes beyond the pool. It’s our job to encourage them in everything.’’

Xavier senior swimmer Quinn Blake.

 When Blake was a freshman, she had a senior cousin, Maddie Grant, who treated her in a similar fashion.
Many of the summers such as Blake were with the Phoenix Swim Club when new Xavier head coach Maureen Rankin was there.
“A lot of us know her, and we are excited that she is our head coach,’’ Blake said.
She hopes to go to a big university next year, perhaps Indiana University, where her father went. IU has an outstanding program that has produced Olympic medal winners such as Lily King, but Blake is not sure if she will attempt to swim there.
Maddie Campbell
Fast, fast, fast.
That’s how Campbell likes to work, in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles.
It’s especially important that she gets off to a fast start, “because it is difficult trying to make up for it if you don’t,’’ she said.
Like Blake and Jones, Campbell is a fourth-year senior. She is looking forward to helping guide the younger swimmers.
“They bring a new energy and a lot of them are really good,’’ Campbell said.

Xavier senior swimmer Maddie Campbell.

She, too, is pleased that Rankin is the coach.
“There is excitement here that we have the possibility of being one of the biggest competitors in the state this year,’’ she said. “You can sense that with the way we have been working so far.’’
Having a quality facility such as Brophy’s is a motivating factor.
“It’s nice to have something like this so close to us,’’ she said of Xavier’s next-door neighbor.
Campbell will be traveling in an interesting direction after graduation.
She expects to attend culinary school at the National Gourmet Institute in New York City.
Campbell is a vegan, and the school focuses on that aspect, she said. Ever since she can remember, she has wanted to work with food. She has a fondness for desserts, but not too many, at least in swimming season.
Jocelyn Jones
She likes the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke, but also likes participating in some of the relay events.
“You are racing for the team and not just for you,’’ Jones said of the relays.
Much of her attention this summer was on the Olympic swimmers, in order to possibly pick up things that might help her.
Jones and some of her Xavier teammates swam for a club team out of Moon Valley Country Club in north Phoenix and are familiar with Rankin even though she did not coach them directly.
“Every time we swam against her team, we could see that she was a quality coach,’’ Jones said.
The Gators appear to have a lot of depth this year, and Jones said that should pay off in the long run.

Xavier senior swimmer Jocelyn Jones.
 The seniors “need to be there for our teammates,’’ she said. “It’s always nice to be swimming toward the end of the lane and having your teammates standing there and cheering for you. That’s what we want to do. There are no negatives. That drags the whole team down.
“When I was a young swimmer, I would look up to the seniors and say, “I want to be like that,’ and we hope some of the younger girls will feel the same from watching us.’’
It is a tradition that her family goes to Auburn in Alabama (grandfather, father, brother), and she is ready to follow them. She hopes to hear if she is accepted by mid-October.
“They have a fast swim team, but I also want to focus on academics,’’ said Jones, who hopes to study architecture.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Badminton stops Corona del Sol, wins 2nd in row

Xavier Prep’s badminton scored its second straight victory of the new season, defeating Tempe Corona del Sol 8-1 on Thursday (Aug. 27) at XCP. The junior-varsity Gators also won 9-0.
The Gators will play their third straight home match on Tuesday (Aug. 30) against Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.

Thursday’s varsity results
Riya Kaira (CDS) def. Emily Woodrow (X).
Tatum Clarke (X) def. Sydney Millerwise (CDS).
Annie Kamps (X) def. Kristie Hale (CDS).
Kiana Valentove-Macdonald (X) def. Katie Carroll (CDS).
Maddie Reinhart (X) def. Cameron Adams (CDS).
Alexa Wolfson (X) def. Eileen Li (CDS).
Woodrow-Valentove-Macdonald (X) def. Kaira-Millerwise (CDS).
Clarke-Kamps (X) def. Adams-Hale (CDS).
Reinhart-Wolfson (X) def. Carroll-Li (CDS).