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, August 31, 2018

XCP triumphs in badminton opener

The first badminton match of the season often is accompanied by nervousness and wondering whether all of the preseason practice will be enough.

Xavier Prep’s Gators took a positive first step forward on Thursday (Aug. 30) in their home opener, earning a 6-3 victory over Peoria Liberty.

Xavier got singles victories by Taylor Dines, Maddie Dines, Mayse Dunn and Lina Vanderwey, and doubles wins by the Dines twins and Dunn and Vanderwey.

Xavier will play two events on the road next week, at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor on Tuesday (Sept. 4) and at Phoenix Pinnacle on Thursday (Sept. 6).

Thursday’s result

Xavier Prep 6, Peoria Liberty 3


Danielle Marino (L) def. Maeve Lee (X), 11-8, 11-9.

Kambree Hill (L) def. Jane Tiffany (X), 9-11, 11-9, 11-8.

Taylor Dines (X) def. Paige Seeger (L), 11-4, 11-9.

Maddie Dines (X) def. Hannah Kubala (L), 2-11, 11-9, 11-5.

Mayse Dunn (X) def. Carlye Hall (L), 11-4, 11-0.

Lina Vanderwey (X) def. Alexis Davies (L), 13-12, 11-1.


Marino-Kubala (L) def. Lee-Tiffany (X), 15-3, 15-2.

T. Dines-M. Dines (X) def. Hill-Seeger (L), 7-15, 15-12, 15-12.

Dunn-Vanderwey (X) def. Hall-Davies (L), 15-7, 15-13.

Gators fall to Chaparral in battle of swim champs

In a battle of last year’s state swimming and diving champions, Scottsdale Chaparral (formerly Div. II) defeated Xavier Prep (Div. I) 123-63 at Cactus Pool in Scottsdale on Thursday (Aug. 30).

Chaparral, which moved up to Division I this year, features several swimmers ranked among the best in the nation.

Xavier, a young team with increasing potential, had one individual event winner and nearly had a second.

Freshman Gracie Munk captured the 100-yard butterfly, and junior Maddie Wright had a strong swim in the 100-yard freestyle before being out-touched at the wall by her Chaparral opponent.

Xavier will have its first home meet of the season at Brophy Prep when it faces Phoenix Pinnacle on Sept. 6.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Freshman tennis teams ready to start season

The time is almost here for Xavier Prep’s freshman tennis teams to begin their season.

Coach Laurie White is continuing her no-cut program and will have 57 players participate in 2018.

Both teams will start on Sept. 6, the “A’ team on the road at Phoenix Mountain Pointe (Ahwatukee) and the “B’ team at home against Chandler Hamilton.

“We have about 20 players who have some experience and about 40 who do not have as much,’’ Martin said. “But that is OK. We look at this as a learning opportunity for everyone.

“There is a lot to learn. Everyone has to be patient, learn to manage the rules and know etiquette, a lot of little things.’’

Each team will have four color-coded groups of players.

“As far as skills, the biggest thing to learn is ball control,’’ Martin said. “You can’t always hit it as hard as you can. You need to get some topspin or slice to throw the opponent off tempo if you can. You come to find out that there are patterns of play.

Getting control of serves also is essential.

Martin said the Xavier frosh will be the subject of a feature in the National Federation of High Schools quarterly newsletter in October.

Xavier freshman tennis color groups

A Green – Diana Briguglio, Victoria Chrostowski, Sammy Field, Piper Kilb, Grace Paul, Caroline Purtill, Halston Yerxa.

A Red – Nicole Chirumbola, Gracie Garrett, Alison Harris, Rebecca Jonson, Emma Studley, Emma Whetstone, London Wood.

A Orange – Sophia Bonilla, Leira Cruz, Kate Erblich, Jackie Leon, Devon Luke, Nina McFarland, Marissa White.

A Peach – Kate Claypool, Maggie Mae Dethlefsen, Keziah Harris, Grace Helenic, Emily Ingram, Fadak Kadhem, Cameron Kohnke, Maia Weingard.

B Blue – Katie Anthony, Lauren Ashton, Virginia Brown, Caroline Cobb, Sophie Flores, Emily Lunt, Elena Titus.

B Yellow – Isabella Buse, Marissa Mansour, Ann Obiesie, Regan Perrin, Megan Scheller, Lily Sexton, Tazmin Smith.

B Purple – Mary Ellis, Yessenia Luna, Julia Popolizio, Camila Ramirez, Hailey Seaman, Aria Tseffos, Chelsea Weil.

B Pink – Alexis Adams, Sofia Asher, Heloise Cenac, Mia McLaughlin, Laura Ottesen, Harley Pickett, Micaela Torres.

Golfers back in the swing of things vs. Desert Mtn.

After struggling a bit in a three-way match with Mesa Red Mountain and Chandler Hamilton on Monday (Aug. 27), Xavier Prep’s golf team returned to form on Wednesday (Aug. 28) with a 43-shot win over Scottsdale Desert Mountain at Phoenix Country Club.

Xavier finished with a 5-over-par 149, while Desert Mountain was at 48-over 192.

Senior Emily Cons earned medalist honors with a 3-under-par 33. Sophomore Lauren Garcia and senior Eve Worden tied with 1-over 37s and sophomore Mary Beth Doss had a 6-over 42.

Xavier will play next in the Antigua Invitational (36 holes) at the Wild Horse Pass Resort’s Whirlwind Course on Friday (Aug. 31) and Saturday (Nov. 1). Play begins at 7:15 both days.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Volleyball opens season with sweep of Mtn. View

Xavier senior libero Ashley Yeung runs through a gauntlet of spirit line members as the volleyball team is announced before Tuesday night's opener against Mountain View (photos by Sr. Lynn Winsor).
No doubt about it. Xavier Prep’s volleyball team looked like the defending state champion on Tuesday night (Aug. 28) when it opened its 2018 regular season with a three-game sweep of visiting Mesa Mountain View.

The Gators made very few mistakes with a dominating performance. Scores were 25-6, 25-8 and 25-12.

Who says Gators can't fly? Xavier sophomore Serena Turner (12) has a panoramic view of the Mountain View side of the court as the Gators move toward a sweep.
"We really looked sharp tonight,’’ said XCP coach Lamar-Renee Bryant. “We were able to play everyone and everyone contributed. We (coaches) are super proud of them and happy for them.’’

Xavier players, from left, Ashley Yeung, Shannon Shields, Jennelle Yarwood and Jasmine Knight watch the flight of the ball.
Junior Bri McKnight led the way for the Gators with 10 kills and three service aces.

Other numbers of note: senior Hayley Nash (9 kills), junior Jasmine Knight (4 kills), senior libero Ashley Yeung (8 digs), senior Jennelle Yarwood (3 aces) and senior setter Shannon Shields (15 assists).

The Gators have two more home matches next week against a couple of strong teams – Queen Creek on Sept. 4 and Phoenix Mountain Pointe (Ahwatukee) on Sept. 6.

A pair of Xavier Gators (in white) block an opponent's shot in a 25-6, 25-23 victory over Mountain View to open the season.

The freshman team was happy to earn a 25-22, 26-28, 15-8 win to open its season on a successful note.
Notes has named Shields as one of its top 250 senior recruits. Shields, who will be attending the University of Louisville, is listed at No. 61.

The publication calls Shields “a natural leader who is not afraid of any challenge.  She is a proven winner who has always played much older than her years.’’

Congrats to Shannon.

*Also, the site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s championship matches is moving from Gilbert Mesquite to Arizona State University’s Wells Fargo Arena. The semifinals will move from Mesquite to Gilbert Highland.

Golf team shares win in tough 3-way match

Three of the top girls’ golf teams in Arizona got together for a big match on Monday (Aug. 27) at Phoenix Country Club.

It was touch and go the entire way, and after the final putt dropped, host Xavier Prep and Mesa Red Mountain were tied for the top spot at 2-under-par 142, with Chandler Hamilton not far behind with a 6-over-par 150.

Red Mountain’s Sydney Bryan was the medalist with a 5-under-par 31. Xavier junior Ashley Menne was next with a 3-under 33.

Other Xavier golfers finishing in the top 10 were sophomore Mary Beth Doss (3rd, 1-under 35), junior Breyana Matthews (3rd, 1-under 35), sophomore Bailee Tayles (7th, even-par 36) and freshman Ivy Song (10th, 2-over 38).

Remaining Xavier scores: sophomore Lauren Garcia (+3), senior Eve Worden (+3), senior Emily Cons ((+4), senior Laura Lu (+7), junior Sydney Trout (+8), senior Holly Otlewski (+8), junior Danae Bravo (+14), freshman Ana Mayberger (+14), freshman Audrey Sanchez (+20) and freshman Kate Ryan (+29).

Xavier is back at Phoenix Country Club on Wednesday (Aug. 29) with a match against Scottsdale Desert Mountain.

And the Gators will be playing in the annual Antigua tournament on Friday (Aug. 31) and Saturday (Sept. 1) at Wild Horse Pass’ Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Gator golfers soar in Nighthawk tourney

Could the 2018 version of Xavier Prep’s golf team become the school’s best ever? The Gators certainly are playing like it in the early season.

The Gators, playing in their first tournament of the season and third event overall, rolled to a 46-shot victory over Cave Creek Cactus Shadows in the annual Nighthawk Invitational on Friday (Aug. 24) and Saturday (Aug. 25) at the Omni Tucson National Course. Xavier finished 24-under-par in the event that featured 14 teams.

Junior Ashley Menne was the tournament’s medalist for the second straight year, finishing at 11-under-par. Junior Breyana Matthews was second at 6-under and sophomore Bailee Tayles tied for third at 5-under with Tucson Salpointe Catholic’s Alexandra Quihuis.

Other Xavier scores: freshman Ivy Song, 2-under; sophomore Mary Beth Doss, 6-over; senior Emily Cons, 7-over; sophomore Lauren Garcia, 12-over.

“Our team and the two extra players coach Tui (Selvaratnam, co-head coach) and I took to Tucson played very well,’’ said Xavier athletic director and co-head coach Sr. Lynn Winsor.

“The girls played in extremely hot weather and at times the pace of play was slow, but our Gator golfers did not let that stop them from shooting 24 under par, which I think is a school record for a team playing two days of golf of 18 holes. We are extremely proud of our team and hope they continue to play great golf all season long.’’

The golf team will have a busy week this week. Xavier will play on Tuesday (Aug. 28) and Wednesday (Aug. 29) at its Phoenix Country Club home course. The first match will be between the state’s top three finishers in Division I last year – Xavier, Chandler Hamilton and Mesa Red Mountain. The second will be between Xavier, Scottsdale Desert Mountain and Glendale Mountain Ridge.

Xavier also will play on Friday (Aug. 31) and Saturday (Sept. 1) in the annual Antigua Invitational at the Whirldwind Golf Club at the Wild Horse Pass resort in Chandler.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Challenge awaits XCP champion swimmers, divers

What kind of chance will Xavier Prep’s swimmers and divers have to repeat as Division I state champion in 2018?

The Gators will find out in their first meet of the season on Aug. 30 when they travel to face Scottsdale Chaparral at Cactus Pool in Scottsdale.

Xavier defeated Chandler for the D-l title and Chaparral now is D-I after a big 283-point win over Tucson Catalina Foothills for the Division II crown last season. The Firebirds feature some nationally ranked swimmers.

“Chaparral is dominant, so we are going to see where we are,’’ said Mark Rankin, who took over the program after his wife, Maureen, passed away in September after battling cancer. Rankin is assisted by Jennifer James.

Xavier, which held its annual intrasquad meet on Friday (Aug. 24) at the Brophy pool, should be strongest with its relays and its divers. The Gators also figure to have a strong freshman class as it did last year.

“We are looking really good right now,’’ Rankin said.

Winning the big-school title should give the Gators momentum.

The coaching situation last season allowed all of the athletes become much closer. The girls also will be doing more team-bonding activities.

One of the team’s top individual performers is the Rankins’ daughter, Mia, a sophomore who finished second by just .18 seconds in the 500-yard freestyle at state, helped the 400-yard freestyle relay team finish second and finished third in the 200-yard individual medley.

Other key returnees are junior Vica Dow, senior Izzy Gomez, sophomore Paola Guerra, senior Maggie Hull, sophomore Sydney Millane, junior Olivia Paliscak, junior Maddie Wright and sophomore Kelly Scott.

Rankin wants his swimmers to be versatile and be capable of swimming in different events than they are used to if needed.

On Thursday (Aug. 23), the day before the intrasquad meet, Rankin put the swimmers through their paces with a lot of distance work to help build their endurance.

“A lot of these girls are year-round swimmers, so they know what to expect,’’ he said.

In diving, junior Maddy Sewell and senior Alyssa Largay finished 10th and 11th overall at state, respectively, and should be able to climb into the top 10. Senior Molly Cahill will return. Senior Talle Donley has been sidelined with an injury but still will be involved with the program. Coach Frank Pipitone also has a promising group of newcomers. He is assisted by Laura Forbes.

Golf team rolls past Corona del Sol, Queen Creek

Eight was great for the Xavier Prep golf team on Thursday (Aug. 23).

The Gators had the top eight individual finishers on the way to a decisive victory over Tempe Corona del Sol and Queen Creek in Xavier’s “home’’ opener at its Phoenix Country Club course.

Two-time defending state champion Ashley Menne was the medalist, shooting a 5-under-par 31 for nine holes.

That helped defending state champion Xavier finish at even par, outdistancing Corona del Sol by 46 shots and Queen Creek by 47.

The Gators will be in Tucson on Friday (Aug. 24) and Saturday (Aug. 25) for the annual Nighthawk Invitational at the Omni Tucson National Course. It also will be the site of the state tournament for the second straight year.

Next week, Xavier will play matches at Phoenix Country Club on Tuesday (Aug. 28) and Wednesday (Aug. 29), then participate in another tournament, the Antigua Invitational. The event will be played on Thursday (Aug. 30) and Saturday (Sept. 1) at the Whirldwind Golf Club at the Wild Horse Pass Resort in Chandler.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

XCP v-ball champs survive scrimmage test

The Xavier Prep volleyball team began its quest for a second straight state championship with a four-way scrimmage with Chandler Basha, Phoenix Sunnyslope and host Chandler Hamilton on Wednesday (Aug. 22).

The Gators played two games against each opponent (games were 15 minutes in length), sweeping Basha, splitting with Sunnyslope and winning one and tying one against Hamilton.

“It was a good day overall,’’ said Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant. “We had a lot of people in different positions . . . it was a great fact-finding mission. We know more about what we need to work on.’’

Xavier appears to be a bit more athletic than it was a season ago. The Gators have only one player listed at 6 feet or taller (sophomore Serena Turner at 6-1), but they look more than capable of showing well in the power game.

Senior outside hitter Jennelle Yarwood has improved significantly and likely will earn more playing time this season. Bryant said she led the team in kills although numbers weren’t immediately available.

“That was good to see,’’ Bryant said.

Senior libero Ashley Yeung was steady, according to the coach, with her service and passing. She also did a good job digging shots off the backcourt.

Turner looked more polished as an outside hitter and blocker and served well.

Junior middle blocker Jasmine Knight is listed at 5-11, the same as last year, but looks as though she might have grown some.

“She has been working hard,’’ Bryant said. “She was moving and jumping a lot better, her timing was better and she showed better discipline.’’

All good signs for the Gators, who officially open the regular season at home in the Activity Center on Aug. 28 against Mesa Mountain View. First serve is at 6 p.m.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Meet Xavier's 2018 badminton team

The Xavier Prep badminton roster has been finalized, and the Gators are set to begin the 2018 season on Aug. 30.

XCP will open with a home match at the Activity Center against Peoria Liberty. Start time is 4 p.m.

The roster:

Head coach

Susan Contreras

Volunteer assistants

Francis Hartojo, Karina Magana


Maddie Dines, Taylor Dines, Maeve Lee, Jane Tiffany


Mia Byrd, Mayse Dunn, Paige Gehringer, Alex Kockinis


Sophie Abedi, Zoe Barton, Jillian Brown, Kailey Dittman, Lauren Etsitty, Samantha Gbruek, Maggie Kamps, Malindi Kilb, Sienna Martinez, Sophie Riviere, Lina Vanderwey, Mia Velasco


Elise Gonzales, Preesha Kumar, Nidhi Nirwan, Alondra Tarin

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Gator golfers play with cool confidence

Xavier Prep’s first golf match of 2018 turned out to be a case of survival of the fittest.

The temperature on Monday (Aug. 20) at the Foothills Golf Club in Ahwatukee hovered near 110 with the humidity at close to 50 percent, which is pretty steamy for Arizona.

Yet the Xavier golfers and those from host Phoenix Desert Vista and Chandler Basha attempted to play as well as they knew how over the nine holes, a tribute to their perseverance.

Some of the Xavier girls had played in a tournament over the weekend in Scottsdale, braving the elements over a full 18 holes, not just nine.

And on Monday, XCP notched its 236th straight match victory dating back to 1996 and 458th overall since the school has been playing. Xavier has won 35 straight state titles under coach and athletic director Sr. Lynn Winsor, including seven in a row.

Winsor and co-head coach Tui Selvaratnam instructed their players to stay hydrated and find as much shade as possible.

Xavier shot a 3-under-par 141, with Desert Vista at 187 and Basha at 248.

Junior Ashley Menne, the two-time defending state individual champion, was the medalist in this one with a 3-under 33. Junior Breyana Matthews was two shots back with a 1-under 35. Sophomore Bailee Tayles was even par at 36. Freshman Ivy Song struggled in the early going, but rebounded nicely for a 1-over 37.

Other Xavier scores: senior Eve Worden at 1-over 37, sophomores Mary Beth Doss and Lauren Garcia at 2-over 38 and senior Emily Cons at 6-over 42.

“Considering the conditions, Coach Tui and I are pleasantly surprised that we were able to get to 3-under,’’ Winsor said. “It was a great day for us. To shoot as well as we did gives you an idea what we are capable of doing when the weather is better.’’

The Gators will be busy later this week. They play their first home match of the season at Phoenix Country Club on Thursday (Aug. 23) against Tempe Corona del Sol and Queen Creek.

Then on Friday (Aug. 24) and Saturday (Aug. 25), it’s on to Tucson for the annual Nighthawk Invitational at the Omni Tucson National Course. That also will be the site of the state tournament for the second straight year.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Another volleyball title would be unforgettable

What’s it like to win a state volleyball championship?

Let Xavier Prep libero Ashley Yeung answer that.

“It was the best time of my life,’’ she said while recalling the title-match triumph over Tempe Corona del Sol.

Now one of five seniors on the Gators’ roster, Yeung would like to have the same feeling if the team can make it two in a row in the 2018-19 season.

Xavier was one of the top teams in the nation at the completion of last season and is the top-ranked Arizona team this time around by The trick is not allowing success to get to the players’ heads.

“It’s important to stay grounded,’’ Yeung said. “We know we will have a target on our backs.’’

So it will be up to Yeung and fellow seniors Jenelle Yarwood, Shannon Shields, Hayley Nash and Kate Spellman to provide stability and leadership.

Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant said things have fit together nicely in the first week or so of workouts.

“Collectively, as a whole, it has been awesome,’’ Bryant said. “All of them played off-season club and they are getting ready. For the seniors, there is an expectation. This is the last time around for them, and they need to play with a sense of urgency.’’

The first step comes on Wednesday (Aug. 22) when the Gators participate in an annual four-way scrimmage with Chandler Basha, Phoenix Sunnyslope and host Chandler Hamilton. The event begins at 5 p.m.

Xavier’s first three regular-season matches are at home, against Mesa Mountain View (Aug. 28), Queen Creek (Sept. 4) and Phoenix Mountain Pointe (Sept. 6).  The Gators also will play in three tournaments – the prestigious Durango Invitational in Las Vegas (Sept. 14-15), the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix (Sept. 21-22) and the Gilbert High Invitational at Gilbert High (Oct. 5-6).

The team has a good mix of veteran players and youth. Bryant will not have any freshmen this year as she did ago, but is eager to see four players up from the junior varsity.

The 5-foot-4 Yeung was more of a defensive specialist last season, but this year, the lion’s share of her time will be as a libero.

Yeung, who is taking five AP classes, says she is better at managing her time. On the court, she said she is playing with more confidence and has a better idea of what to do when the ball heads in her direction. She also is ready to be a leader.

“I try to lead by example. Even when I’m having an off day,’’ she said.

The 5-10 Shields has been a starting setter for most of her four years and has developed into one of the state’s best at that spot. The Louisville-bound athlete wants to be known as a complete player, and has been working toward that goal. The left-hander has a great serve, can follow through with some powerful swings and has improved on the block.

“I think I am a little more mature all the way around,’’ she said. “I know the younger ones look up to me. I want to be a leader and have a connection with each of them.

“This season will be amazing. Everyone is playing better than last year and we all are blending in well. We are more focused. We will have to be.’’

One of the recipients of Shields’ passes will be 6-foot sophomore Serena Turner. She quickly developed into a factor as a freshman last season and refined her skills on the sand as a member of Xavier’s beach volleyball team.

According to Bryant, Turner has “committed to the process’’ of playing beach at Stanford, quite an achievement for a player so young.

Another Gator who is glad to have Shields back for another year is 5-10 junior outside hitter Bri McKnight. She will provide a lot of the Gators’ power.

“She (Shields) puts the ball right where I need it to be. She is the best,’’ McKnight said.

“It will be more of a challenge for us this year, definitely, but we are a really deep team and we play well together.’’

McKnight said she has a better sense of where opponents are or anticipates where they will be when angling for a shot.

As her sophomore season neared its end in March, McKnight made a commitment to play for and study at UC Santa Barbara. She wants to major in film and the seaside campus provides a perfect setting.

The new script will come this year as she helps her teammates create the other bookend of back-to-back titles.

Xavier Prep 2018-19 varsity volleyball roster

Victoria Burton, Jr.; Abby Converse, Jr.; Jasmine Knight, Jr.; Bri McKnight, Jr.; Hayley Nash, Sr.; Zaira Reyes, So.; Kaori Robertson, So.; Shannon Shields, Sr.; Kate Spellman, Sr.; Serena Turner, So.; Quinn Voorhees, Jr.; Juli Westfall, Jr.; Jenelle Yarwood, Sr.; Ashley Yeung, Sr.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

New XCP badminton season begins soon

Badminton tryouts at Xavier Prep have been completed, and now it’s on to preparation for the new season that begins the last week of August.

Coach Sue Contreras said the roster will be made up of close to two dozen players. The goal is to find six main players who will see action in most of the matches (both singles and doubles), six for the JV and the rest for exhibition matches.

Some of those players might be interchangeable depending outcomes in the first few matches.

The Gators will feature four seniors – twins Taylor and Maddie Dines, Jane Tiffany and Maeve Lee.

Contreras said the initial number for the tryouts was about 60, which was more than last year and that it is an encouraging sign.

A few players have experience, but some others will be a work in progress.

“A couple of the girls are athletic, but hopefully will be able to develop their badminton skills and knowledge. We’ve already seen some improvement and hopefully these girls will be able to help us,’’ Contreras said.

The coach said that despite the loss of several seniors to graduation, Gilbert Perry remains the team to beat this season. Chandler Hamilton also could be a factor. There will be some decent teams on this year’s schedule that the Gators have not played in awhile, such as Scottsdale Chaparral and Peoria Liberty.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Senior leadership important for Gator golf

Holly Otlewski and her three other senior golf teammates take a lot of pride in themselves, their team, their academics and Xavier Prep. The school has won 35 state championships, including seven in a row.

“We have an interesting past here,’’ she said on Tuesday (Aug. 14) as the girls prepared to play the first of two qualifying rounds as they prepare for the regular-season opener on Aug. 20 at the Foothills Club West in Ahwatukee. The opponents will be host Phoenix Desert Vista and Chandler Basha.

Xavier’s first match at their Phoenix Country Club home is Aug. 23, against Queen Creek and Tempe Corona del Sol.

“Everywhere I go, when I tell people I play golf for Xavier, everyone knows what it is,’’ Otlewski said. “That’s what golf is about here, trying to keep the tradition going.’’

Athletic Director Sr. Lynn Winsor, the co-head coach with Tui Selvaratnam, is ever the optimist. And why not? Just take a look at the team’s track record.

“This is my favorite time of the year,’’ Winsor said. “It’s fun to go out and see how the girls have been doing, where they have improved.’’

She said that 20 girls tried out and that the team will carry 16.

“We’ve always had interest in golf, but now it is becoming greater,’’ Winsor said.

The top eight after tryouts (that should change depending on the tournament) – sophomore Lauren Garcia, freshman Ivy Song, sophomore Bailee Tayles, junior Ashley Menne, junior Bre Matthews, senior Eve Worden, sophomore Mary Beth Doss and senior Emily Cons.

 The team will play in a handful of tournaments during the year, one at the Omni Tucson National Course, which also will be the site of the state tournament for the second straight year. The girls will play a few practice rounds there at various points.

The Gators have a dominant sophomore class and the state’s best individual player in Menne, the two-time defending state champion.

And the seniors have fit nicely into their niche of leadership and overall stability.

Worden, whose older sister, Lily, played at Xavier a few years ago, said the seniors are happy to be a part of “the rite of passage.’’

“We bring that leadership and experience,’’ she said. “It’s great to have more input into what the team is doing.’’

Cons said, “I think a lot of the younger players look up to us. We want them to know that we are there for them. We want that to mean something.’’

Senior Laura Lu is confident that this season will be a great experience.

“We want to make sure everyone has fun, but not to where it gets too crazy,’’ Lu said.

The start of the school year always seems to bring its share of extra stress, like fitting in with the team, even though most girls have played before, and in the classroom.

Otlewski said the wants to “help bring positive energy,’’ and to be encouraging.

The players have not been sitting idle over the summer. They have played in various junior golf tournaments, both here in Arizona and out of state. That only helps them improve.

Winsor pointed to the players’ putting that she expects will make a difference.

All the girls would like to continue to be involved with the game when they move on to college, a few as players and some perhaps dealing with the administrative side.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Increased maturity should help Gator runner Innes

Helen Innes just started her senior year at Xavier Prep, and she is going to do everything she can to make it the most memorable of her four years.

She follows a path that successfully blends strong academics with ever-improving work as a runner for Xavier’s cross-country team. She also runs on the track team and is the editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper/online production, the Xpress.

The Gator runners have been practicing in the mornings before school at approximately 5:30 a.m. to escape the heat. The team returns a competitive group of runners, including Innes, as well as a number of promising freshmen who have been trying out.

Innes has enjoyed working with the younger runners because it wasn’t so long ago that she was one of them herself.

“Getting up at around 4:30 or so to get here on time – that says a lot about them,’’ she said.

“I was thinking about how time here has gone so fast. Two girls who were seniors when I was a freshman – Shannan Higgins and Jane Miller – worked out with us and it kind of hit me. They helped me a lot then, so I try to do the same now with the younger girls.’’

Her advice to the freshmen: “High school is what you make of it. When I was a freshman, I was involved with cross country and track, and with the newspaper when I took a class as a sophomore. It’s a matter of putting yourself out there, trying to take advantage of new opportunities. You have to be self-motivated a lot of the time, because there usually is no one to tell you to do your homework.’’

Xavier senior Helen Innes is ready to run like the wind  (Photo by Don Ketchum).
Her work with the Xpress doesn’t necessarily involve assigning stories as much as it is give and take with writers during brainstorming sessions. Video and podcasts also are becoming a part of the mix.

“There are so many aspects to it. They’re all very interesting,’’ she said.

She plans to continue to run and perhaps write for the school newspaper in college – she is leaning toward Claremont McKenna in the Los Angeles area and is interested in pursuing a degree in international relations.

“I think I’ll be ready,’’ she said.

She has run in California before – at a couple of midseason events. She also ran in Oregon in last year’s George Fox Invitational.  She was 23rd among several hundred runners there. She also got an opportunity to reconnect with family that lives in the area.

“My parents have been very supportive,’’ she said. “They come out to all the meets. They are always there.’’

Xavier’s first meet will come on Sept.1 in the Peaks Invitational at Flagstaff’s Buffalo Park. Innes believes she is ready to blossom.

“I think I am a lot smarter than before, paying attention to some of the little things that can help you,’’ she said. “You have to realize if you haven’t been getting enough sleep, particularly the night before a meet. You have to be smarter about training.’’

The season is drawing closer, but cooler weather is not ready to do so yet. Part of Innes’ process each night before the early practices involves packing her breakfast and lunch, shower bag and school uniform and making sure her homework has been completed.

Running also allows the athletes to eat a lot of pasta and protein.

Sugar, like what is in desserts? Not so much.

“Once in awhile, you have a cookie. It keeps you sane,’’ Innes said, laughing. “We have talked about that in the past in the van. It is something to look forward to at the end of the race as a treat.’’

Dave Van Sickle is Innes’ coach in cross country and track. He is happy to have her return for one more season.

“She has always been pretty steady, even from the beginning as a freshman,’’ he said.

Innes is changing her ways. She is proud to have gained maturity and that can make a big difference in the classroom (a 4.0 weighted grade-point average) and on the race course.

“As a freshman, I wasn’t worried too much about anything (results), other than trying to survive,’’ she said. “As a sophomore and again as a junior, I was usually in the middle of the pack.

“I was sort of scared to make a move. I would get intimidated. But I am a senior now and I am not scared anymore. I speak in front of a writing class.

”I am ready to break out and lead the pack, run my own race. Some of your strategy depends on the course, but I want to start faster and make the big push the last mile and a half (out of 3 miles).’’

She picked up the trophy that Xavier earned as last year’s state runner-up and was ready to pose for a photo.

A school staff person walked by, stopped and said, “Oh, wow, is that yours?’’ Innes said no, it was the result of a team effort.

“This year, if I get one of these things (as an individual winner or top finisher at state), it will be a great day,’’ Innes said.

A great day, indeed.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Five Gator tennis players in top form

Another great achievement for the Xavier Prep tennis program!

Over the weekend in Albuquerque, five Xavier players teamed up with five boys from area schools to win the 18 Advanced USTA Sectionals.

The group will advance to the Nationals in November at the Home of America Tennis facility in Orlando. Four Xavier juniors competed – Erica Stutz, Emily Even, Lorelei Glidden and Jessica Mirmelli. And one freshman rounded out the five – Ryan Kershner.

The group was coached by Xavier assistant coach Ford Oliver.

Congratulations to all!!
The five Xavier players along with coach Ford Oliver, right. From left are Lorelei Glidden, Jessica Stutz, Jessica Mirmelli, Emily Even and Ryan Kershner. (Xavier tennis photo).

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Gator volleyball set academic standard in 2017-18

The 2017-18 Xavier Prep volleyball team set the bar high on the court by winning the Division I state championship, and raised the bar in the classroom.

In late July, the Gators have been named as an Academic All-American team by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

To be considered for this honor, teams must have at least a 3.30 grade-point average (on a scale of 4.0) or a 4.10 GPA (on a scale of 5.0). Xavier was on a 4.0 scale.

Xavier was one of nine schools from Arizona to be recognized. There were 975 schools nationwide (girls and boys combined) that were chosen.

“We are honored to be represented as outstanding athletes, but equally proud of the team’s academic success,’’ said XCP coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.

Xavier athletes, it's time to get busy

Of Xavier Prep’s three sports “seasons’’ – fall, winter and spring – fall is perhaps the busiest.

So, Gators, if you are interested in participating as a member of one of the school’s many teams, make sure you have your equipment ready and, above all, make sure you stay hydrated. All athletes must have their annual physicals on file.

Badminton – Open gym for new players on Monday, Aug. 6 (1-3 p.m.) and Tuesday, Aug. 7 (3:30-5:30 p.m.) in the Activity Center. Open gym for all players on Wednesday, Aug. 8 and Thursday, Aug. 9, from 3:30-5:30 both days in the Activity Center.

Tryouts for all students will be held Aug. 13 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and on Aug. 14-15 from 3:15 p.m.-5:30 p.m. in the Activity Center. Susan Contreras is the head coach and will be assisted by Francis Hartojo.

Fall schedules in all sports are expected to be available soon.

Cross country – Tryouts for all athletes Aug. 7-9 beginning at 5:15 a.m. at the Brophy College Prep track. The head coach is Dave Van Sickle with Vito Perrone, Eden Higgins and Joshua Trevino serving as assistants.

Frosh tennis – Freshmen, come out and play! Coach Laurie Martin’s program is no-cut.

Position rounds for all immediate and advanced players who have played at least some tennis are Monday, Aug. 13 through Thursday, Aug. 16 from 3-5 p.m. at the Stark Tennis Center. New and beginning players will gather on the courts on Monday, Aug. 20 after school.

Come dressed to play in shorts and T-shirts and bring your racket. If you do not have a racket, Xavier will provide one for you.

A parent/player program meeting will be held Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center.

Crew/rowing (club) – The new season begins with a Learn to Row Class led by coach Peter Figgins.

It will be held Aug. 20-21 at the Xavier Spin Room, from 3:40-5:30 p.m.

The class location will then shift to the Xavier Boat House at the Tempe Town Lake. Dates and times: Aug. 22-23 (4-6:30 p.m.), Aug. 25 (7-9 a.m.) and Aug. 27-29 (4-6:30 p.m.)

Check the XCP Web site for information updates.

Golf – The latest great group of Gators (seven straight state titles, 35 overall) will begin with a mandatory tryout meeting at 2:45 p.m. on Aug. 7 in Lutfy Hall.

Tryouts will take place at the Phoenix Country Club, 7th Street and Thomas Road. The dates are Aug. 8-10. Athletes will meet in the office of co-head coach Sr. Lynn Winsor before boarding the bus that will take them to the golf course. Tui Selvaratnam shares the head-coaching duties.

Tryout dates are Aug. 8 (office at 1:55 p.m., bus leaves at 2:10 p.m.), Aug. 9 (office at 1:55, bus leaves at 2:10) and Aug. 10 (office at 1:15 p.m., bus leaves at 1:30 p.m.).  Sessions will last until 5 p.m. on the first two days and 4:45 on the third day.

Swim-dive – After winning the state championship in one of the most memorable seasons in school history, the girls are ready to get back in the water at the Brophy Prep Pool.

The Gators will be coached by Mark Rankin and Jennifer James.

Swimmers and divers will participate in the Advanced Physical Education swim class. It meets during 7th period Monday through Thursday. Practice will then continue for an additional hour after class. Once the team has been selected, class schedules may be adjusted to accommodate swim class.

Athletes should be prepared to swim/dive in a one-piece suit and have caps, goggles, towels, sunscreen and water bottles.

Students will meet in F111 after school and walk to Brophy together for the tryouts.

Swim tryouts are Aug. 7-9 from 3-4:30 p.m. The first full practice will be Aug. 10 at 5:30 a.m.

Frank Pipitone and Laura Forbes will coach the divers. Their tryout times are Aug. 7-9 from 5-7 p.m.

Volleyball – The road to a possible second straight state championship began July 31 and was due to continue Aug. 1-3 with open gym in the afternoon in the Activity Center.

The head coach is Lamar-Renee Bryant, and she will be assisted by Chaz Arah, Kristin Preach, Ana Panagiotakpoulos, Jenny Scott, Jamie Itule and Nicole Blauvelt.

Freshman tryouts will be held Aug. 6 (1-3 p.m.) and Aug. 7-8 (3:30-5 p.m. both days) in Vestar Hall.

Freshman tryouts will be held Aug. 7-9 at Vestar Hall, 1-3 p.m. the first day and from 3:30-5:30 p.m. the other two days.

Tryouts for sophomores, juniors and seniors will be held those same dates. Times are 3-5 p.m. the first day and 5-7:30 p.m. the other two days.

Spirit Line and Gator Line – Sophomores, juniors and seniors were selected in April, and freshmen and incoming transfers had tryouts on July 26. Check the XCP Web site for additional information.

Club sports – Xavier will have a Mountain Biking Club and the Hotshots archery and clay target shooting team. Check the Web site for additional information.

Athletic training – Classes for students interested in learning about sports health care and working with Head Athletic Trainer Laurie White to provide for the Gators’ sports teams will begin this month. See your guidance counselor for more information about the appropriate prerequisites and registering for White’s Athletic Training Class. Hannah Gray and Katie Kendall are back for another year as White's assistants.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Sr. Lynn named to Arizona Sports Hall of Fame

Sr. Lynn Winsor is entering her 45th year at Xavier Prep, most of it as the athletic director, golf coach and vice principal for activities.

Her face is familiar to those associated with high school sports across Arizona as well as in national prep circles.

So it should really be no surprise to learn that she is among six new inductees into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.

Sr. Lynn Winsor.

Winsor joins late former Arizona State and Arizona Cardinals player Pat Tillman, 10-time Olympic swimming medalist Gary Hall Jr., University of Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea, former Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Mark Grace and former Scottsdale Chaparral softball coach Jeff Oscarson, who also played baseball at Scottsdale Saguaro and at Mesa Community College.

The induction ceremony will be held Nov. 1 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort.

Winsor, a graduate of Xavier and Arizona State, is very excited to become an inductee because one of her former Xavier golfers, the late Heather Farr, was inducted in 2013. The Hall of Fame has been in existence since 1957.

“It is a tribute to the school, all the girls I have coached, Coach Tui Selvaratnam (current co-head coach), all my past assistant coaches and all the people I have worked with here at Xavier Prep.’’

Xavier has won 35 state golf championships and claimed five state runners-up under Winsor’s leadership, including seven in a row. She is proud that 55 percent of her golfers over the years have played college golf and six players have gone on to play professionally on the LPGA Tour.

“This is a huge honor. I am humbled by it,’’ Winsor said.