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.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Gator tennis players shine at state

Xavier Prep tennis players did not reach the pinnacle they had hoped, but they still could depart Glendale’s Paseo Racquet Center on Saturday (April 29) with their heads held high after strong overall performances in the Division I individual singles and doubles state tournament.
The No. 3-seeded doubles team of senior Jordan Craft and freshman Emily Even played in the championship match but fell to top-seeded Grace Koester and Erin Hannen of Scottsdale Chaparral, 6-0 and 6-2.
Koester and Hannen also defeated the unseeded Xavier doubles team of junior Maddy Corley and freshman Jessica Miramelli, 6-0 and 6-0 in Friday’s (April 28) quarterfinals.
And freshman singles player Erica Stutz, the No. 4 seed, fell in Saturday’s semifinal to Phoenix Horizon’s Liza Isayev, 6-4, 6-0. Isayev went on to win the state title later in the day, and Stutz defeated Anthem Boulder Creek’s Torye Calleja, the seventh seed, 7-5, 6-4, for the consolation championship.
Xavier coach Laurie Martin was encouraged by what she saw during the tournament, especially with three freshmen.
“What they accomplished and the experience they gained is absolutely huge,’’ Martin said. “It certainly gives us hope for the future.’’
“For Emily to reach the state doubles final was really big. All of the girls did a great job.’’
Stutz and Isayev had each other on the run for most of their match, placing shots to all areas of the court and showing good power.
“Erica competed very well with some of the best shots she has had,’’ Martin said.
“We’re looking forward to her continuing to improve. She is very mature for a freshman and stays focused most of the time. She is very driven.’’
The coach also was pleased to see Craft leave no stone unturned in her final Xavier showing. Craft will play at Chapman University in California beginning next year.
“Jordan is a great kid,’’ Martin said. “She has been a team leader for us and has done everything a captain should do.’’
Now the Gators turn their attention to the team portion of the D-I tournament. The Gators, the defending state runner-up, are seeded No. 5 this season.
They defeated Goodyear Millennium 5-0 in the first round last week and will meet No. 4 seed Phoenix Desert Vista on the road on Tuesday (May 2) at 3 p.m. It will be Xavier’s second trip to Desert Vista this season. Desert Vista won that earlier match 6-3.
The Xavier-Desert Vista winner will advance to the semifinals on Friday (May 5) at the Scottsdale Ranch Park in north Scottsdale.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Xavier looks strong in last meet before state

It appears that Jada Sims and the Xavier Prep track and field team are ready for the Division I state meet on May 3 and 6 at Mesa Community College.
The Gators put themselves in a strong position with victories in five events in the Northeast Valley Region Championship on Monday (April 24) and Thursday (April 27) at Phoenix Horizon.
Two wins were by Sims, a versatile sophomore. They were in the 100-meter hurdles and the long jump. Sims also finished fifth in the 300-meter hurdles and fifth in the high jump.
Other XCP wins were freshman Mia Olsen in the 3,200-meter run, senior Annie Grant in the 300-meter hurdles and the 4x800-meter relay foursome.

Northeast Valley Region Meet
Xavier results
100-meter dash – Paris Rasheed-Moore, 3rd, 13.07. Bisola Ojeniyi, 5th, 13.16. Maddie Minton 9th, 13.40.
200-meter dash – Paris Rasheed-Moore, 5th, 26.34. Johnnie Mitchell, 13th, 28.29.
800-meter run – Sarah Carter, 3rd, 2:18.90. Megan Zacher, 5th, 2:23.00. Kinsey Ehmann, 6th, 2:23.34. Kristen Keeble, 21st, 2:32.28.
1,600-meter run – Helen Innes, 3rd, 5:16.84. M.J. O’Gara, 5th, 5:25.69. Karina Smith, 6th, 5:27.39. Karina Hawkins, 18th, 5:37.85.
3,200-meter run – Mia Olsen, 1st, 11:41.74. Karina Smith, 4th, 11:49.25. Caroline Liddy, 7th, 12:13.88. Karina Hawkins, 8th, 12:14.71.
100-meter hurdles – Jada Sims, 1st, 15.51. Annie Grant, 3rd, 16.55. Izzy Estes, 11th, 18.70.
300-meter hurdles – Annie Grant, 1st, 46.43. Leila Grant, 4th, 48.23. Jada Sims, 5th, 49.72. Izzy Estes, 14th, 55.27.
4x100-meter relay – Xavier Prep 2nd, 49.08. (Bisola Ojeniyi, Paris Rasheed-Moore, Elysia Fleetwood, Maddie Minton).
4x400-meter relay – Xavier Prep 2nd, 4:00.49. (Leila Grant, Megan Zacher, Kinsey Ehmann, Annie Grant).
4x800-meter relay – Xavier Prep 1st, 9:35.3=41, (Megan Zacher, Helen Innes, Sarah Carter, Kinsey Ehmann).
Discus – Jai Nero, 14th, 83-05. Kendall Swanson, 29th, 66-03 ½. Gisselle Bojorquez, 30th, 64-06.
High jump – Jada Sims, 5th, 5-00. Izzy Estes, 13th, 4-10 (personal record). Mary Long, 15th, 4-06.
Pole vault – Remy Feagles, tie for 5th, 8-06. Molly Cahill, tie for 9th, 7-06.
Long jump – Jada Sims, 1st, 17-02 (personal record). Maddy Todd, 7th, 14-11 ½. Kolbe Pierce, tie for 20th, 14-03 ½. Eliza Mulkern, 27th, 13-02.
Triple jump – Eliza Mulkern, 12th, 29-11.

Beach volleyball seeks 6th championship trophy

No. 6 swings in the breeze from the championship tree. All that’s left for Xavier Prep’s Gators is to grab it.
Thanks to a decisive 5-0 semifinal victory over 12th-seeded Phoenix Mountain Pointe on Wednesday night (April 26) at Gilbert Mesquite, Xavier’s top-seeded beach volleyball team is ready to claim its sixth straight Division I crown in as many years of the sport’s existence.
The Gators had expected to face Tucson Salpointe Catholic for the second straight year in the title match, but were surprised to learn that No. 3 Salpointe was upset by No. 10 Goodyear Millennium 5-0 in the other semi.
The title match will be Tuesday (May 2) at 6:30 p.m. at Mesquite.
Xavier coach Tim McHale said his team wasn’t necessarily thinking about the No. 6 designation.
“We just want to finish it off with a strong effort, and if we win, this (title) will stand alone. All of them are different,’’ he said.
Despite being in its first year, McHale does not think Millennium will be an easy mark.
“They have some really good volleyball players, very athletic,’’ he said.
As they did in the first-round win over Queen Creek and a second-round win over Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, Xavier’s top tandem of Macy Gordon and Cierra Flood was at the top of its game. Gordon and Flood won 21-13 and 21-15.
No. 2 Taylor Lopez and Trinity Cavanaugh also won 2-0, as did No. 5 Kristen Klein and Emma Cisneros-Luebke.
The keys to the match were 2-1 victories by No. 3 Kailey Klein and Lydia Rush and No. 4 Alyna Draper and Shannon Shields. The Klein-Rush team’s win was particularly noteworthy because it came back from a 0-1 deficit.
McHale said Kailey Klein, a junior, is a bit more experienced and that Rush, a sophomore, doesn’t have as much and might have been a bit nervous when their match began.
“Kailey talked her through it and she settled down and played a lot better,’’ McHale said.
“I keep telling the girls that it isn’t always the No. 1 or No. 2 teams that play the decisive match. Sometimes, matches are won or lost in the three or four hole. You’re either eliminated or you finish it off.’’
The coach is eager to see what transpires in the title match.
“This team is one of the most tight-knit teams I’ve had,’’ he said. “They all get along and are willing to sacrifice for each other.’’

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Beach v-ball, tennis advance in state tourneys

The beach volleyball and tennis teams from Xavier Prep continued to reign on Tuesday (April 27) with state tournament victories at home.
Top-seeded Xavier remained unbeaten in the sand at 15-0 with a 5-0 domination of No. 8 Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor. On March 10, the Gators had defeated the Eagles by the same score.
XCP advanced to Wednesday’s (April 26) semifinals at Gilbert Mesquite. The Gators’ opponent at 6:30 p.m. is No. 12 Phoenix Mountain Pointe, which upset No. 4 Tempe Corona del Sol 3-2 in Tuesday’s quarterfinal. Xavier defeated Mountain Pointe 4-1 in its final match of the regular season on April 5.
If Xavier wins its semifinal, it would reach the championship match on May 2 against the winner of Wednesday’s other semifinal between No. 3 Tucson Salpointe Catholic and No. 10 Goodyear Millennium. Xavier defeated Salpointe in last year’s championship match, its fifth title in as many years of existence in Arizona.
Against Sandra Day O’Connor, Xavier had three 2-0 shutouts and two 2-1 triumphs.
The No. 1 team of Macy Gordon and Cierra Flood played one of its top contests of the season, winning by scores of 21-7 and 21-2.
Other duos with 2-0 wins were No. 3 Kailey Klein and Lydia Rush and No. 5 Kristen Klein and Emma Cisneros-Luebke. No. 2 Taylor Lopez and Trinity Cavanaugh and No. 4 Alyna Draper and Shannon Shields took 2-1 wins. The former took its third game 15-11 and the latter won its third game 15-8.
Xavier’s fifth-seeded tennis team defeated No. 12 Millennium 5-0. In the team tennis portion of the state tournament, the first team to reach five wins takes the match. The Gators had five singles victories and the sixth was stopped in the middle of that game. It also meant that doubles matches were unnecessary.
Gators singles winners were No. 2 Jordan Craft (6-1, 6-0), No. 3 Emily Even (6-0, 6-2), No. 4 Maddy Corley (6-0, 6-0), No. 5 Jessica Miramelli (6-0, 6-1) and No. 5 Lorelei Glidden (6-1, 6-1).
Xavier moves on to the quarterfinals on May 2 with a road match against No. 4 Phoenix Desert Vista in Ahwatukee. Desert Vista defeated the Gators 6-3 in a match on March 28.

Badminton's Woodrow finalist for scholar award

Xavier senior badminton player and team captain Emily Woodrow has been named as a finalist for the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Scholar Athlete Award for the 6A Conference.
The AIA will announce the winner on May 15 at an awards ceremony at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.
Woodrow and doubles partner Kiana Valentova-Macdonald put Xavier over the top with a victory as the Gators defeated Gilbert Perry to win the team title. And the duo finished as the consolation champion in the individual doubles portion of the tournament.