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, November 4, 2018

Gators swim well, but Chaparral much better

Xavier Prep swimming coach Mark Rankin cringed when he saw that 2017 Division II state champion Scottsdale Chaparral would be moving up to Division I in 2018.

Chaparral is considered by many to be among the top teams in the nation, and Rankin, whose Gators won the Division I title a year ago, knew that his team would have a big challenge.

It came to pass on Saturday (Nov. 3), when Chaparral left Xavier and everybody else in its wake to stake its claim as the new D-I champ at the Skyline Aquatic Center in east Mesa.

On an afternoon of spectacular weather, Chaparral defeated second-place Xavier by a whopping 176 ½ points (477 ½-301). To get an idea of the Firebirds’ dominance, Xavier’s point total was just 20 off of what it scored last year on the way to its title.

“I was very pleased with the way we swam,’’ said Rankin, who led the team with Jenny James. “We had some great swimming and there was great swimming all the way around.’’

Xavier won the first event of the day, the 200-yard medley relay, and had a number of other top-level finishers.

It started with sophomore Mia Rankin, who was third in the 200-yard individual medley and second in the 500-yard freestyle. She became an automatic All-American with her effort in the 500 free and is under consideration for All-American status in the 200 IM.

In the 500, she got a measure of revenge against Chandler High’s Destiny Kling, who won last year’s race by touching the wall only .18 of a second ahead of Rankin. This time, Rankin was second with a healthy six-second advantage over third-place Kling.

Xavier, always strong in the relays, finished third in the 200-yard freestyle relay and second in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Freshman Gracie Munk finished second in the 100-yard backstroke. She and Rankin also contributed to some of the relay events.

And Xavier’s divers also looked good in the 1-meter competition on Saturday at Phoenix Country Day School. Senior Alyssa Largay and junior Maddie Sewell switched spots from their back-to-back finishes in 2017. Largay went from 11th to 10th and Sewell from 10th to 11th.

Freshman diver Samantha Klein gave the Gators a big boost with a No. 14 finish. Diving coach Frank Pipitone said Klein had been working on a few dives with greater difficulty with hopes that she would score more points, and she did just that.

“That was probably our highlight,’’ said Pipitone, who also coaches the divers at Brophy Prep. They helped the Broncos win the boys’ D-I title.

“It was a tough meet, but I am very proud of our girls,’’ Pipitone added.

Coach Rankin can take comfort in the fact that most of his swimmers are underclassmen and will return next season. Unfortunately, so will Chaparral’s.

“We will stay as close to them as we can. You never know what might happen,’’ he said.


A meet official did a classy thing afterward as the champion and runner-up trophies were about to be presented.

He led the Gator girls in a cheer, “Mo! Mo! Mo!’’ in honor of Rankin’s late wife and Mia's mother, Maureen “Mo’’ Rankin, well known in Valley and state swimming circles. She was the Gators’ coach last year before cancer she had eradicated earlier returned and took her life in late September after a courageous battle with the disease. Mark Rankin joined James and the two led XCP to an emotional title triumph.

Girls’ Division I team scores

Scottsdale Chaparral 477 ½, Xavier Prep 301, Mesa Mountain View 268, Mesa Red Mountain 170, Gilbert Highland 138 ½, Chandler High 117, Mesa Desert Ridge 110, Chandler Hamilton 99 ½, Tucson High 96 ½, Phoenix Desert Vista 91, Phoenix Pinnacle 69, Gilbert Perry 65, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor 46, Peoria Liberty 44, Mesa Westwood 35, Mesa Skyline 35, Tempe Corona del Sol 30, Queen Creek 26, Chandler Basha 16, Anthem Boulder Creek 16, Surprise Valley Vista 14, Mesa High 11, Yuma Cibola 1.

Xavier Prep results

200-yard medley relay – Championship race: First, 1:46.18 (Gracie Munk, Paola Guerra, Olivia Paliscak, Kelly Scott).

200-yard freestyle – Championship race: Maddie Wright, fourth, 1:51.79. Consolation race: Vica Dow, First, 1:54.65.

200-yard individual medley – Championship race: Mia Rankin, third, 2:03.57 (All-American consideration). Consolation race: Sydney Millane, fifth, 2:13.44.

50-yard freestyle – Consolation race: Olivia Paliscak, second, 24.80; Kelly Scott, sixth, 25.12.

1-meter diving – Alyssa Largay, 10th, 375.60 points; Maddie Sewell, 11th, 373.20; Samantha Klein, 14th, 353.25.

100-yard butterfly – Championship race: Gracie Munk, fifth, 57.24; Jordan Herrera, eighth, 58.33. Consolation race: Olivia Paliscak, second, 57.92; Haley Hubbard, sixth, 59.42.

100-yard freestyle – Championship race: Vica Dow, eighth, 53.92. Consolation race: Kelly Scott, seventh, 54.57.

500-yard freestyle – Championship race: Mia Rankin, second, 4:51.59 (Automatic All-American); Maddie Wright, sixth, 5:05.49. Consolation race: Carlie Herrmann, sixth, 5:17.65.

200-yard freestyle relay – Championship race: Third, 1:38.07 (Kelly Scott, Olivia Paliscak, Vica Dow, Maddie Wright).

100-yard backstroke – Championship race: Gracie Munk second, 56.81. Consolation race: Sydney Millane, seventh, 1:01.36.

100-yard breaststroke – Championship race: Paola Guerra, fifth, 1:06.84.

400-yard freestyle relay – Championship race: Second, 3:31.65 (Gracie Munk, Maddie Wright, Vica Dow, Mia Rankin).

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