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.

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.

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