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, September 24, 2017

Running depth carries Gators in Conley

A true indication of Xavier Prep’s cross-country depth was revealed on Saturday (Sept. 23) in the annual Doug Conley Invitational at Shalimar Golf Course in Tempe.

Gators coach Dave Van Sickle was holding out his top five runners to prepare for Friday’s (Sept. 29) Desert Twilight event in Casa Grande, but the team still managed to win the Elite and Non-Varsity (5,000 meters) divisions.

Xavier had 68 points to win the Elite, and Gilbert Highland finished second with 79 points. Xavier won the Non-Varsity with 21 points, and Highland was second with 43.

Freshman Jamie Stelnik was the top XVP individual finisher in the Elite race, crossing the line in 10th place at 18:59.1.

Other Gators in the Elite: senior Caroline Liddy 11th at 19:07.2, junior Karina Hawkins 13th at 19:09.5, junior Karina Smith 18th at 19:21.4, freshman Cami Merickel 20th at 19:39.6 and sophomore Kristen Keeble 37th at 20:09.1.

Xavier’s win in the Non-Varsity race was highlighted by a 1-4 individual finish.

Junior Karli Baker went No. 1 at 20:08.3, senior Annika Nielson went No. 2 at 20:12.8, senior Abbie Conrad went No. 3 at 20:13.2 and sophomore Grace Valandra went No. 4 at 20:19.2.

Other Gators in the Non-Varsity: freshman Sophia Healy 11th at 20:55.8, junior Josie Venezia 20th at 21:22.4, junior Megan Woodbury 57th at 21:39.6, junior Arden Smith 85th at 23:15.8, freshman Carolina Calihan 87th at 23:18.3 and freshman Emma Chester 140th at 24:37.4.

Team scores


Xavier Prep 21, Gilbert Highland 43, Mesa Mountain View 115, Mesa Red Mountain 152, Scottsdale Chaparral 153, Gilbert Perry 159, Phoenix Desert Vista 172, Chandler Hamilton 246, Gilbert Higley 262, Tempe Corona del Sol 299, Windor Rock 360, Mesa Skyline 376, Peoria Liberty 379, Surprise Shadow Ridge 395, Prescott 416, Tempe 475, Phoenix Pinnacle 509, Tempe McClintock 565, Surprise Willow Canyon 591, Anthem Boulder Creek 634, Cave Creek Cactus Shadows 656, Casa Grande 672, Tucson Rincon 695, El Mirage Dysart 707, Fountain Hills 733, Surprise Paradise Honors 775, Tempe Marcos de Niza 781, Surprise Valley Vista 790, Phoenix Carl Hayden 793, Phoenix Sierra Linda 899.


Xavier Prep 68, Gilbert Highland 79, Mesa Red Mountain 160, Gilbert Perry 169, Mesa Mountain View 183, Phoenix Mountain Pointe 189, Tucson Rincon 202, Scottsdale Chaparral 229, Tempe Corona del Sol 230, Chinle 245, Prescott 253, Anthem Boulder Creek 269, Window Rock 292, Tuba City 300, Mesa Skyline 351, Surprise Shadow Ridge 357, Glendale Prep 370.

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