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.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Freshman swimmers playing key roles

Tadpoles rule !!

Translated, that means Xavier Prep has an extremely talented group of freshman swimmers who could help push the Gators toward a possible state championship later this fall.

“We have 12 freshman swimmers this year, and I believe that some of them will score points for us at the state meet,’’ said coach Maureen “Mo’’ Rankin. “Some might not expect that to happen, but that’s what makes it even more fun.’’

Four girls on which the spotlight is expected to shine are Paola Guerra, Jordan Herrera, Mia Rankin and Sydney Millane. They will get their first test on Thursday (Aug. 31) against Anthem Boulder Creek at the Anthem Community Center.

Of the young swimmers, Mo Rankin said, “Are a good group. They’re all club swimmers.’’

The coach said Guerra is a member of the Puerto Rican national team who should only continue to get better. Guerra’s primary events are the 100-yard breaststroke, the 50-yard freestyle or the 100-yard freestyle.

Mia Rankin is Mo Rankin’s daughter and specializes in the 500-yard freestyle and the 200-yard individual medley.

Herrera is more of a distance performer, in the 500- and 200-yard freestyles.

And Millane is focused on the 100-yard backstroke and the 200 IM.

Most of the girls also will be involved in relays.

“They really have a lot of enthusiasm,’’ coach Rankin said.

The freshmen will derive benefits from a strong group of senior co-captains – Katie McCoy, Kate Hubbard, Thea Cartier and Mary Roediger. The team will be made up of 38 girls.

“The captains are always positive. They say, “You can do this,’ ’’ Mia Rankin said.
“Everything is exciting and upbeat,’’ Guerra said. “To make a contribution to this team would be an honor.’’

Said Millane: “I think we are capable of being in the top three (in each event) at state.’’

Herrera said most of the freshmen swam in club against each other but did not know each other that well.

“That has changed already,’’ said Mia Rankin. “We haven’t been out here together for too long, but we already are bonding.’’

The freshmen participated in an intrasquad meet on Aug. 25 at the Brophy Pool. Afterward, they gathered for some fun relay events and were due to have a belly-flop contest, a part of the team tradition, according to coach Rankin.

The world of high school athletics and academics takes some getting used to, Herrera said.

“We knew it would be tough at first, but I think we are adjusting,’’ she said.

Studying, Millane said, “is not horrible. You’ve just got to be able to make sure you manage your time so you can get your work done.’’

The swimmers, young and old alike, all have the same goal.

“We want to win state,’’ Herrera said.

Xavier Prep 2017 swimming and diving roster              

Bethany Barnwell, Megan Brown, Morgan Brown, Molly Cahill, Clare Carlson.

Thea Cartier, Citlali Chimal, Talle Donley, Vica Dow, Alexandra Figueroa.       

Izzy Gomez, Paola Guerra, Kyle Gunzy, Regan Gunzy, Taylor Guthrie.

Ruby Halperin, Jordan Herrera, Carlie Herrmann, Haley Hubbard, Kate Hubbard.

Maggie Hull, Rachael Jasinski, Hannah Jemsek, Nicole Johnson, Mia Joslin.

Audrey Lamp, Aly Largay, Anna Leone, Katie McCoy, Sydney Millane.

Olivia Paliscak, Emili Palmisano, Alex Perez, Sophia Plumb, Mia Rankin.

Kylie Rodgers, Mary Roediger, Gracie Schumacher, Kelly Scott, Maddy Sewell.

Emma Sharp, Veronica Tanner, Maddie Weiland, Meghan Whitlow, Cat Worth, Maddie Wright.

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