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, May 29, 2018

Gators' Menne finishes 8th in T-bird Junior golf

The results are in, and Xavier Prep’s Ashley Menne had a very respectable showing over the weekend in the Thunderbird International Junior golf tournament at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale.

Menne, who will be a junior in 2018-19, was the only player from Arizona participating in the event.

She finished in eighth place (out of 30) with a 2-under-par 214 over the three rounds. She was 1-under in her first two rounds and even par in Monday’s (May 28) final round.

The winner of the event was Yuka Saso of Manila, Philippines, who finished at 209.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

AIA award choice surprises Sr. Lynn


Who could that be?

Xavier Prep Vice Principal for Activities and Athletic Director Sr. Lynn Winsor was enjoying another Arizona Interscholastic Champions Luncheon on Monday (May 21) when a member of the AIA’s video staff tapped her on the shoulder.

“Please come with me,’’ they said.

Sr. Lynn obliged and was led to the steps near the stage where the annual awards were being handed out at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

Almost before she knew it, she was called onto the stage by AIA Executive Director David Hinds, who presented her with the inaugural AIA Lifetime Achievement Award for her 41 years of service to Xavier as an administrator and to the Arizona and national high school communities.

It takes a lot to surprise Sr. Lynn. And this time, she was as the crowd stood and applauded.

Sr. Lynn Winsor holds the AIA's inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award (AIA photo).
“The word shocked does not even describe by reaction to getting this,’’ she said Tuesday (May 22). “I am honored and humbled.’’

Xavier President Sr. Joan Fitzgerald said, “All of us at Xavier are so proud of Sr. Lynn’s dedication to athletics and activities. In her 44 years at Xavier (Sr. Lynn joined the faculty in 1974 and became an administrator three years later), she has brought the Christian perspective in sports to Xavier students, coaches, parents, faculty, staff, administration and alumnae.

“The over 130 state titles won by Xavier under her leadership is a testament to her leadership, her commitment to a quality athletic program, her emphasis on sportsmanship and her goal of providing positive experiences for all involved in high school athletics and activities.’’

Sr. Lynn won’t be ready to surrender her spot at XCP any time soon.

“I became Xavier’s Athletic Director when Moby was a minnow,’’ she said. “I plan on continuing as AD as long as I can fulfill the duties with vigor, care and class.’’

Gators' Martin earns another coaching award

Xavier Prep tennis coach Laurie Martin has added another award to her growing list.

She was the recipient of the Southwest U.S. Professional Tennis Association Coach of the Year award at the organization’s annual conference over the weekend.

Congratulations, Coach Martin !!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Menne, Matthews shine at West Coast Junior

The sky is not the limit for what Ashley Menne is capable of achieving on the golf course. It goes way beyond that.

The junior-to-be at Xavier Prep won the Golfweek West Coast Junior Invitational for the second straight year over the weekend at Mesa Country Club, doing so with a record-breaking 62 in Saturday’s (May 19) first round and finishing with a final-round 68 on Sunday (May 20) for a record 13-shot victory.

Another upcoming junior, Breyana Matthews, made it a 1-2 Xavier finish by shooting 73-70 to edge the third-place golfer by one stroke.

Menne told Golfweek that she had not played in a tournament in the three weeks prior to the West Coast Junior Invitational to work on her swing, and it certainly paid off.

Look for more of the same from Menne and Matthews this fall when the Xavier golf team comes to a course near you.

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.