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.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Swimmers, divers finish second in PCDS invite

It was another strong performance by the Xavier Prep swimmers and divers on Friday (Sept. 27) and Saturday (Sept. 28), as the Gators finished second in the annual Eagle Invitational at Phoenix Country Day School.

Xavier earned some victories in the various events. In the 200-yard medley relay, the foursome of sophomore Gracie Munk, junior Pao Guerra, senior Haley Hubbard and senior Vica Dow brought home the win.

Junior Mia Rankin won the 500-yard freestyle and Guerra won the 100-yard breaststroke.

In other events, senior Maddy Sewell finished second in 1-meter diving, junior Jordan Herrera was second in the 200-yard freestyle and third in the 100-yard butterfly, and Rankin was second in the 200-yard individual medley.

Junior Kelly Scott was fourth in the 50-yard freestyle and third in the 100-yard freestyle. Senior Olivia Paliscak was second in the 100-yard butterfly and fifth in the 50-yard freestyle.

Dow was fourth in the 100-yard backstroke and eighth in the 100-yard freestyle. And Guerra finished eighth in the 50-yard freestyle.

Xavier will compete in its final home meet of the year on Thursday (Oct. 3) against Anthem Boulder Creek at the Brophy aquatic complex. All the Gator seniors will be honored at the event.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Runners weave through plenty of Twilight traffic

It was called the Nike Desert Twilight Cross Country Festival.

A festival, indeed.

Nearly 5,000 runners – 1,951 girls and 2,931 boys – swarmed the Sports World athletic complex in Casa Grande on Friday afternoon and evening (Sept. 27).

Xavier Prep had 32 runners compete in three of the eight girls’ races. Boys had the same number of races.
Xavier finished 10th in the top-level 5,000-meter Sweepstakes (all races were the same distance), first in the Large School Freshman and fourth in the Large School Open.

The Gators had seven runners in the Sweepstakes, led by senior Mia Olsen with a time of 18:30.15, good for 33rd place.

Other Xavier runners: junior Jamie Stelnik, 18:38.90 (37th), sophomore Ansley Burns, 19:03.19 (63rd), senior Jessica Mirmelli, 19:08.26 (70th), freshman Holland Carey, 19:47.80 (104th), sophomore Maria Benitez, 19:54.02 (109th), and senior Grace Valandra, 20:29.48 (139th).

The Gators had two runners in the top 10 in the Large School Freshman race.

They were Kylie Brown, 20:38.50 (seventh) and Naomi Young, 20:47.00 (eighth).

The remaining eight finishers for Xavier were Emily Manuelito, 21.18.10 (13th), Olivia Charles, 22:06.00 (17th), Barbara Paez, 22:07.30 (18th), Cassara Ryan, 22:24.30 (23rd), Calista Flick, 22:51.00 (29th), Grace McClelland, 23:51.50 (62nd), Bella Titus, 26:15.00 (70th), and Alma Melendez, 26:53.90 (81st).

Xavier had its largest representation – 15 runners – in the Large School Open.

The top finishers were junior Sammy Braun, 20:50.10 (18th) and sophomore Tatum Goforth, 20:50.50 (19th).

Sophomore Hannah Wheeling was next, 21.44.30 (42nd), followed by sophomore Karime Morales, 21:50.00 (47th), junior Rishita Shah, 22:00.10 (55th), sophomore Catherine Alaimo, 22:18.00 (64th), sophomore Ellie Higgins, 22:21.10 (67th) and sophomore Briony Campisi, 23:00.80 (93rd).

Also, sophomore Catherine Devine, 23:07.70 (100th), sophomore MK Fairbanks, 23:08.70 (102nd), sophomore Riley Ryan, 23:09.20 (104th), sophomore Grace Teevan, 23:23.00 (118th), sophomore Marissa Mansour, 24:05.20 (158th), sophomore Lulu Fischer, 24:11.80 (166th) and sophomore Maia Weingard, 25:41.00 (247th).

The Gators will lace up their shoes again on Oct. 5 when they compete in the Thunderbird Invitational at Mountain View Park in north Phoenix.

Friday, September 27, 2019

XCP volleyball rolls to sweep of Valley Vista

Xavier Prep’s volleyball team earned its 20th victory of the season on Thursday night (Sept. 26) with a three-game sweep of visiting Surprise Valley Vista at the Activity Center.

Scores were 25-21, 25-14 and 25-16.

Middle blocker Jasmine Knight and fellow senior and outside hitter Bri McKnight came up big for the Gators (20-3), combining for 31 of the team’s 41 kills. Knight had 17, McKnight 14. Valley Vista is 18-5.

Other notable Xavier numbers were the 35 assists by sophomore setter Alexa Shiner, the three service aces by senior libero Abby Converse and two aces by sophomore outside hitter Tiffany Tellez.

Xavier has a busy week coming up. The Gators have three straight matches Tuesday (Oct. 1) through Thursday (Oct. 3), with an appearance in the annual Nike Tournament on Friday (Oct. 4) and Saturday (Oct. 5) at various southeast Valley sites.

The Tuesday match is at Mesa High, Wednesday at always-tough Gilbert Perry and Thursday at home against Chandler Basha.

Gator swim/dive in winning form before the storm

Before a late-afternoon rain came knocking at the door, Xavier Prep’s swimmers and divers finished 11 events, winning eight against Tempe Corona del Sol at the Brophy Prep aquatic complex on Thursday (Sept. 26).

Winners for the Gators were Kelly Scott, Pao Guerra, Mia Rankin, Jordan Herrera, Vica Dow and Maddy Sewell in diving.

Xavier’s next event is on Friday (Sept. 27) and Saturday (Sept. 29) with the Eagle Invite at Phoenix Country Day School. Divers compete on Friday, swimmers on Saturday.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Golfers avoid another rainout, top Mtn. Ridge

Xavier Athletic Director and co-head golf coach Sr. Lynn Winsor nervously kept checking her phone on Wednesday (Sept. 25) while sitting on the patio at Phoenix Country Club.

She was not awaiting a phone call. She was checking her weather app.

The screen lit up like a colorful Christmas tree. Winsor was monitoring a storm near Buckeye in the west Valley that appeared to be headed toward central Phoenix, complete with lightning.

“It’s been a beautiful day for golf, but now I don’t know,’’ she said.

The Gators had a three-way meet with Chandler Hamilton and Scottsdale Chaparral in south Chandler that was canceled due to bad weather on Monday (Sept. 23), and she did not want that to happen again against Glendale Mountain Ridge.

“Finding a new date agreeable to all the schools is not an easy thing to do,’’ she said. “A lot of the courses are starting to do their overseeding.

“But it’s good that we can get out here and keep ourselves sharp.’’

Wednesday’s threatening skies did not unleash their fury on the course, and Xavier was able to post a healthy 28-shot victory.

Senior Breyana Matthews picked up her first winning medal of the season with an even-par 36. Sophomore Ivy Song was second with a 2-over-par 38.

Other Xavier scores: junior Mary Beth Doss 40, senior Sissi Wang 40, junior Lauren Garcia 42, freshman Annie Dawson 44, senior Sydney Trout 47, sophomore Audrey Sanchez 47, sophomore Ava Mayberger 48, senior Danae Bravo 49, sophomore Kate Ryan 51 and freshman Sophie Stamatis 68.

For their remaining home matches of the season, the Gators will set up shop at Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale. Next on the schedule will be Mesa Mountain View and Gilbert Perry on Monday (Sept. 30).

Menne at Pebble Beach

Senior leader Ashley Menne did not play on Wednesday.

She is in Pebble Beach, Calif., preparing to play in the PURE Insurance Championships Impacting The First Tee. The First Tee is an organization that helps introduce young people to golf all across the country.

Menne will play with two Valley boys’ golfers – Scott Schlader of Phoenix Desert Vista and Cade Kilauwski of Gilbert Perry in national team competition at Pebble Beach on Friday (Sept. 27) and Saturday (Sept. 28).

Freshman "A" tennis falls to Hamilton

Xavier Prep’s freshman tennis “A” team traveled to Chandler Hamilton on Wednesday (Sept. 25), but was defeated 6-3 by the Huskies.

The team will play its next match on Oct. 3 at Gilbert Highland. The Xavier “B” team, meanwhile, will meet Chandler Basha at XCP’s Stark Tennis Center on Thursday (Sept. 26).

Wednesday’s results

Hamilton 6, Xavier Prep 3


Sophia Kleingartner, X, def. Hamilton 8-4; Hamilton def. Olivia Taylor, X, 8-6; Alissen Orrego, X, def. Hamilton, 8-2; Hamilton def. Riley Dowdall, X, 8-4; Hamilton def. Anna Pisoni, X, 8-6; Hamilton def. Bryn Murphy, X, 8-2.


Kleingartner-Taylor, X, def. Hamilton, 8-4; Hamilton def. Orrego-Dowdall, X, 8-4; Hamilton def. Pisoni-Murphy, X, 8-5.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Talia's big climb is a triumph of the spirit

There are days when we get out of bed and think about something really difficult that is staring us in the face and say, “I don’t want to do this. I can’t do this.’’

Now consider the story of Xavier Prep junior Talia Novack. The outlook likely will change. For the better.

From Aug. 23-25, just one brief month ago, she completed the rigorous Utah 29029 Everesting Challenge at the Snowbasin Ski Resort in the Wasatch Mountains just outside of Salt Lake City.

The 29029 is in reference to the height of Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak at 29,029 feet. It is part of the Himalaya Range on the Nepal-China border.

Everesting began as a cycling challenge in 1994. But in 2016, endurance athlete Jesse Itzler and a friend, Marc Hodulich, came up with the idea for a version for hikers. This would not be for the faint of heart, to be sure. The first event was in Stratton, Vt., in 2017, with an added version in the West, at Snowbasin, in 2018. Those annual events remain the only two thus far, but the intent is to expand.

Participants such as Talia climb to the top of the ski area (Snowbasin hosted Winter Olympics events in 2002) and have a 15-minute ride on the ski gondola back to the bottom before starting the same thing all over again.

In the Utah Everesting Challenge, athletes must climb up and down the slope 13 times (2,233 feet per “lap’’) with a time limit of 36 hours to do so, the equivalent of the height of Everest. It is equivalent of walking 30 miles uphill (about 2.3 miles per climb) with an average incline of about 20 percent.

Talia first heard of the challenge around Thanksgiving 2018, after her father, Eric, read an article in Outside magazine. Eric, an orthopedic trauma surgeon in the northwest Valley, would be approaching a milestone birthday (50).

He asked his wife, Tracy, if it would be OK for him to do it, then asked Tracy and Talia if they would be interested in joining him.

His wife politely declined the invitation. Politely as in, “No way.’’

“I asked Talia about it, and she thought about it for two weeks,’’ Eric said. “Then she said, “I’ll do it if you get me a car.’ I had a two-part answer, (a) “No.’ And (b), “This is not an event where they give you a reward.’ ‘’

Talia had participated in soccer and tennis as a young child, but the only other athletic endeavor was skiing. She and her dad have gone on Xavier’s father-daughter ski trip to Colorado.

“She is a very good skier,’’ Eric said.

What followed was eight months of intensive training at the gym.

Is Talia Novack excited? Wouldn't you be after climbing a mountain 13 times? (Photo courtesy of Eric Novack)
“It was the hardest endurance challenge I’ve ever had, especially lengthening the normal workout, going on the treadmill at the highest incline, doing some running and some weights,’’ Talia said.

Dad was impressed by Talia’s willingness to give this a try.

“This was so far out of her comfort zone. That she was willing to persevere with it was pretty remarkable,’’ he said.

The process also meant adjusting the diet.

“We had six meals a day, to keep that metabolism moving,’’ Talia said. “There was no salt and no sugar, and that was hard because I enjoy having fruit (a green apple just about every day). And no dairy. I could have vegetables and a small bit of protein. Carbs? Not really.

“I was also supposed to drink a gallon and a half of water per day. I know how important that is. I grew up here and have seen the effects of dehydration.’’

At Xavier, Talia has been involved with the National Honor Society, the Key Club, the Mu Alpha Theta math group and volunteering for service projects. As a freshman, she was a member of the Xavier Hotshots archery team.

She came to Xavier after attending a performing arts school in grades 5-8. And she has been in numerous plays, mostly musicals such as The Little Mermaids and Seussical at XCP and School of Rock in community theatre.

But what would be her greatest performance was creeping closer.

She admitted it was weird trying to stay motivated.

“There was no real testing point,’’ she said. “I couldn’t believe I was actually going to do it.’’

Apprehension followed her around like a shadow.

It got bigger in July when she and her dad went to Utah to check out Snowbasin’s terrain first-hand.

“It was humbling,’’ he said. “We thought, “How can we possibly do this 13 times?’ ’’

Talia began to develop a calmer focus while listening to a speech at the event’s welcoming social.

The words came from Colin O’Brady, an American professional endurance athlete who in December of 2018 became the first man to cross Antarctica by himself, unaided. The 932-mile trip lasted 54 days.

“I was so inspired by that. I told my dad, “We’re going to go as far as we can go,’ ’’ she said.

And so the trek began.

Over the next two days, it was climb up, gondola down. The route of the climb was pretty much under where the gondolas glide down the cables. Flags along the course directed the climbers. There were two aid stations, one at the summit. Climbers are allowed to use trekking poles, essentially ski poles with handles.

“It was very steep, that first mile,’’ Talia said.

On the ninth summit climb, it was beginning to get dark. People donned helmets with lamps on them, similar to what miners wear. It was starting to get cold, and the climbers put gloves on.

“No. 9 was harder for me,’’ Talia said. “There was a lot of dust in the air because part of it was where people do their skiing. I was breathing it in and started to cough quite a bit.’’

At the end of No. 9, she thought she could do one more. She took in some pickle juice (yes, pickle juice, which helps prevent cramping).

But after about a half-mile, “I was not doing well,’’ she said. “The fatigue took my body to where it’s never been through before. I was stunned.’’

The No. 10 climb took longer because of it, around three hours, as compared to only one hour the first time through. By about 2 a.m., it was time to stop and rest.

There were small tents set up near the ski lodge, but the Novacks went inside the lodge itself. Talia slept for three hours on a fireplace hearth until around 5:30 a.m., using her small backpack as a pillow.

Wearing their red bibs signifying their success, Talia and dad Eric Novack celebrate their accomplishment. (Photo courtesy of Eric Novack)
Talia was glad to have her dad to lean on, particularly with another tough day ahead.

“I’m sure I probably wouldn’t have made it if it had not been for him,’’ she said.

“I learned something about myself. The mind has so much power over what the body can do. Climbing the 11th was reassuring, and that pushed me through 12. When you go to the last summit, they give you a red bib, replacing your white one. It says, Final Ascent.‘’

There were 220 people entered in the event, with 65 percent completing the full route. And at 16, Talia was the youngest. Eric Novack said that one man who has a daughter the same age called his daughter back home to tell her about Talia’s accomplishment.

“All of the people were very nice, very supportive,’’ Talia said.

She and her dad made it in 32 hours, using only one pair of shoes with another pair on hand as a backup. They had four hours to spare before the time limit.

At the bottom of the slope, there were wooden “ascent boards,’’ where climbers used an electronic device to burn the logo of a peak into the space for each trip next to their name.

Talia said she can still smell the wood and see the wisp of smoke coming off the board.

The experience will be burned in her mind forever, something she will not forget.

Will she ever try again? Perhaps one day, she said, but only after she gets through her senior year in 2020-21 at XCP and all that goes with it.

Blogger’s note: Want a closer view of Everesting Utah? Go to and click on Past Events, then 2019 Utah for numerous great photos.

XCP volleyball on verge of 20th victory

After dropping its first match of the season and a long trip to a weekend tournament in Las Vegas, the Xavier Prep volleyball team settled back in at home on Tuesday night (Sept. 24) and came up with a 3-0 sweep of visiting Mesa Red Mountain.

The Gators won handily by scores of 25-9, 25-12 and 25-10 to pull to within one win of the 20-victory mark at 19-3, while Red Mountain dropped to 7-16.

Xavier trailed 4-3 early in the first game, but went on a 13-point run that “set the tone,’’ according to Gators coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.

With senior outside hitter Juli Westfall out for at least a week while nursing a finger injury, senior outside hitter Katelen Tellez picked up the slack with aggressive play up front.

Bryant also pointed to Tellez’s sister, Tiffany, a sophomore outside hitter, who did most of her damage with her serves, including several aces.

“She helped us hold serve during that run in the first game,’’ Bryant said.

Senior outside hitter Bri McKnight had a productive effort with 16 kills. Senior middle blocker Jasmine Knight also did well at the offensive end with several kills in which she seemed to hang in the air forever before applying the hammer.

The Gators will be back at the Activity Center on Thursday (Sept. 26) when they face visiting Surprise Valley Vista. Start time is 6 p.m.

Badminton can't shake rust on the road

The first Division I badminton power points rankings were released by the Arizona Interscholastic Association on Tuesday (Sept. 24), but No. 7 Xavier Prep struggled on the road against No. 15 Mesa Mountain View and fell 7-2.

Both teams are now 4-4.

Xavier had one singles winner (junior Lina Vanderwey) and one doubles winner (Mayse Dunn and Mia Velasco).

Xavier will return to action next Tuesday (Oct. 1) with a home match against Mesa Red Mountain.

Mountain View 7, Xavier Prep 2


Danae Peters, MV, def. Sophie Riviere, X, 21-11, 21-18; Vicky Nguyen, MV, def. Mayse Dunn, X, 11-21, 22-20, 23-21; Lina Vanderwey, X, def. Emma Norton, MV, 21-19, 9-21, 21-15; Megan Welch, MV, def. Alex Kockinis, X, 22-20, 17-21, 21-17; Ellie Clarkson, MV, def. Zoe Barton, X, 17-21, 23-21, 21-16; Paige Morrison, MV, def. Mia Byrd, X, 21-16, 20-22, 21-17.


Dunn-Mia Velasco, X, def. Peters-Norton, MV, 21-15, 19-21, 21-16; Nguyen-Norton, MV, def. Riviere-Barton, X, 21-12, 20-22, 21-17; Welch-Morrison, MV, def. Kockinis-Byrd, 10-21, 21-19, 21-19.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Gators have 2nd-place finish in BCP/XCP invite

The annual Brophy/Xavier swimming and diving invitational was held on Saturday (Sept. 21) at the Brophy Prep aquatic complex and Xavier Prep finished second to Scottsdale Chaparral in team competition.

Among the Gators’ top individual efforts were those of senior Maddie Wright, who won the 200-yard freestyle and finished second in the 100-yard freestyle.

Junior Jordan Herrera was third in the 200-yard individual medley and fifth in the 500-yard freestyle. Junior Kelly Scott was fifth in the 50-yard freestyle and fourth in the 100-yard freestyle. Sophomore Gracie Munk was fourth in the 100-yard butterfly and second in the 100-yard backstroke. Senior Olivia Paliscak was fifth in the 100-yard butterfly and eighth in the 50-yard freestyle.

The XCP divers had a solid day, led by senior Maddy Sewell’s fourth-place finish.

Congrats to all of these great Gators, and good luck in your next competition, which is a dual meet on Thursday (Sept.26) against Tempe Corona del Sol at Brophy.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Volleyball goes 5-2, shows well in tourney

Xavier Prep’s volleyball team finished 5-2 overall and took third-place honors in the Silver Bracket of the annual Durango Fall Classic in Las Vegas on Friday (Sept. 20) and Saturday (Sept. 21). The event featured 64 teams.

Xavier, seeded eighth overall, finished Friday’s pool play at 3-0, defeating three California teams, Rancho Cucamonga, Long Beach Poly and St. Lucy’s Priory (Springfield).

The Gators attempted to qualify for the championship bracket on Saturday morning, falling to Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.) in three sets, 25-22, 19-25 and 22-25. That result put them in the Silver Bracket.

In the opening match of Silver Bracket play, Xavier defeated James Longan of Union City, Calif., 25-21, 25-17. The Gators advanced to the bracket semifinal against Kamehameha Kapalama of Honolulu, Hawaii, but fell, 24-26, 25-22 and 18-25.

It was on to the third-place match, where Xavier turned away Peasant Grove, Utah, 25-20 and 25-12.

Xavier, now 18-3 overall, returns to play in Arizona with two home matches in the Activity Center. They are against Mesa Red Mountain on Tuesday (Sept. 24) and Surprise Valley Vista on Thursday (Sept. 26). Both matches begin at 6 p.m.

Menne Aguila golf medalist, Gators finish 3rd

Senior Ashley Menne took medalist honors and Xavier Prep’s golf team finished third out of 10 teams in the annual Aguila Invitational on Friday (Sept. 20) and Saturday (Sept. 21) at the Aguila Golf Course in Laveen.

Menne shot a 4-under-par 68 in the opening round and a 2-under 70 in the final round to finish four shots ahead of runners-up Calynne Rosholt of Cave Creek Cactus Shadows and Madeline Laux of Goodyear Millennium.

“The talented golfers in this year’s Aguila were many, but Ashley held steady and won,’’ said Xavier Athletic Director and co-head coach Sr. Lynn Winsor.

“Her calm demeanor and confidence brought her from two behind at one point to a 4-stroke victory. As coaches, we (Winsor and co-head coach Tui Selvaratnam) are so proud of her grit and determination to get medalist.’’

The Gators led after the first round, but winner Phoenix Pinnacle and second-place Cactus Shadows had strong efforts on the final day.

The team finish was Pinnacle (20 over par), Cactus Shadows (21), Xavier (25), Millennium (39), Phoenix Desert Vista (106), Phoenix Horizon (119), Gilber Perry (129), Scottsdale Chaparral (245) and Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep (293).

Xavier’s five other individuals among the 58 golfers were sophomore Ivy Song (3-over, tied for 6th), senior Breyana Matthews (9-over, tied for 14th), junior Mary Beth Doss (19-over, 23rd), freshman Annie Dawson (20-over, 24th), and senior Danae Bravo (53-over, 38th).

The Gators will play again on Monday (Sept. 23) in a three-way match with Chandler Hamilton and Chaparral at the Springfield Golf Resort in south Chandler.

Runners compete in Tempe, California races

Xavier Prep’s cross-country runners were out in full force on Saturday (Sept. 21), competing in one meet in Tempe and another in Norco (southern), Calif.

The Gators, with seven runners, finished 22nd out of 27 teams in the 3-mile Sweepstakes category at the Woodbridge (Calif.) Invitational.

Closer to home, Xavier flooded the course with 21 runners in the annual Doug Conley Invitational at the Shalimar Golf Course in Tempe. The Gators finished second behind Gilbert Highland out of 18 teams in the Non-Varsity category.

Xavier’s top finisher in the Woodbridge was senior Mia Olsen, who was 49th out of 199 runners with a time of 17:31.5.

Others in the Gator contingent were junior Jamie Stelnik (72nd, 17:45.9), senior Jessica Mirmelli (153rd, 18:58.4), senior Grace Valandra (159th, 19:05.9), freshman Reyna Silva (160th, 19:07.5), sophomore Maria Benitez (161st, 19:08.3) and junior Sammy Braun (184th, 19:42.7).

Sophomore Karime Morales topped the Gators’ list in the Conley Invitational (9th overall), with a time of 21:31.57 in the event that had 268 runners.

Other XCP finishers: sophomore Hannah Wheeling (10th, 21:32.3), junior Sophia Healy (12th, 21:42.56), junior Rishita Shah (14th, 21:46.13), freshman Calista Flick (17th, 21:57.11), freshman Barbara Paez (18th, 22:09.75), junior Joey Hernandez (21st, 22:13.32), sophomore Catherine Alaimo (23rd, 22:20.99), sophomore Ellie Higgins (34th, 22:47.13), sophomore Catherine Devine (35th, 22:47.98), sophomore Abby Macaluso (40th, 22:58.71).

Also, sophomore Briony Campisi (42nd, 23:01.90), sophomore Grace Teevan (47th, 23.12.72), sophomore MK Fairbanks (52nd, 23:32.70), sophomore LuLu Fischer (60th, 23:42.28), sophomore Riley Ryan (62nd, 23:48.99), sophomore Marissa Mansour (64th, 23:49.79), freshman Grace McClelland (70th, 24:07.26), freshman Bella Titus (73rd, 24:07.55), freshman Alma Melendez (99th, 24:56.79) and sophomore Maia Weingard (147th, 26:27.04).

All of Xavier’s runners will reunite on Friday (Sept. 27), traveling to Casa Grande for the Desert Twilight event at the Sports World facility. Races start at approximately 4 p.m. and run past dusk.

Another 6th-place finish for XCP/BCP bikers

The Xavier Prep/Brophy Prep mountain bikers’ finish in the second Arizona Interscholastic Cycling League race on Sunday (Sept. 22) mirrored their first race two weeks ago.

The team finished sixth in the standings, just as it did in Race #1, scoring 3721 points. Prescott High, the host team at Prescott’s Pioneer Park, won the event.

Xavier had three riders finish in the top 20 of the JV 1 race, 2 laps with a total of 11.5 miles.

They were sophomore Hailey Schwartz (4th, 56:02.96), senior Heather Kwapiszeski (13th, 59:48.19) and senior Erin Hill (17th, 1:05.44.33).

Two Xavier riders competed in the freshman race (11.5 miles) – Chloe Lindeback (19th, 1:13.02.00) and Grace Morgan (26th, 1:25.34.53).

And Xavier had four riders in the JV 2 race – senior Sam Sandoval (28th, 1:14.26.23), senior Catherine Wandachowicz (31st, 1:16.21.09), sophomore Aria Tseffos (39th, 1:22.59.30) and senior Camdyn Rael (40th, 1:24.10.86).

The Xavier/Brophy group will ride again on Oct. 6 at Wren Arena in southern Arizona’s Fort Huachuca.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Freshman "A" tennis wins, badminton falls

The Xavier Prep freshman “A” tennis team evened its record at 1-1 with a 9-0 victory over visiting Tempe Corona del Sol at the Stark Tennis Center on Thursday (Sept. 19).

And the Xavier badminton team suffered a tough 5-4 loss at Scottsdale Chaparral, while the junior varsity won 7-2.

Xavier’s tennis winners:

Singles – Sophia Kleingartner, Olivia Taylor, Alissen Orrego, Riley Dowdall, Bryn Murphy and Lilly Reaves.

Doubles – Kleingartner-Taylor, Reese Brown-Orrego, Anna Pisoni-Dowdall.

The A Team will return to the court on Tuesday (Sept. 24) with a match at Tempe Marcos de Niza.

And the badminton team will be back at Chaparral on Saturday (Sept. 21) for the Firebird Invitational.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Chaparral knocks Gator v-ball off unbeaten pedestal

There is physical fatigue and mental fatigue, and both contributed to Xavier Prep’s 3-2 volleyball loss to visiting Scottsdale Chaparral on Wednesday night (Sept. 18), dropping the Gators from the unbeaten ranks at 13-1.

Scores for the match (Chaparral listed first): 25-22, 26-24, 25-27, 11-25, 15-8.

Xavier had played a five-set match against visiting Tempe Corona del Sol the night before, on Tuesday (Sept. 17) and defeated the Aztecs 3-2.

The Gators were back in the Activity Center against Chaparral and played very much like a tired team, especially in the first two games. The scores were close, but Chaparral (8-4) had the upper hand most of the way.

Xavier somehow avoided the sweep in the third game, and scored a surprisingly easy win in the fourth.

After a 3-3 tie early in the finale (15 points wins), Chaparral took control with four straight points and grabbed a 10-4 lead shortly thereafter. Once the Firebirds reached double digits, a setback appeared inevitable for the Gators.

“We put ourselves in a bad situation,’’ said Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.

She added that the downward spiral had just as much to do with the players’ mental state as the physical, if not more so.

“Some of our leaders decided to pick and choose when they would play, and you can’t have that. There is mental and physical fatigue, so we have to be demanding of ourselves and we didn’t do it.’’

The team was due to leave for Las Vegas after school on Thursday (Sept. 19) and will play in the annual Durango Classic at several high schools in that area. Xavier is the No. 8 overall seed and will play in Pool 8 on Court 2 at Las Vegas’ Coronado High.

Three other teams from southern California are in Xavier’s pool – Long Beach Poly, Rancho Cucamonga and St. Lucy’s Priory. Games will run from 1-6 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 20) with full bracket play on Saturday (Sept. 21).

As the Xavier bus winds its way toward Nevada, some of the players will nod off. Others might listen to music. Perhaps it would be a good opportunity to forget about the Chaparral match?

No way, said Bryant.

“We need to remember this,’’ she said. “It’s all about effort, and if we don’t change our effort, the same thing is going to happen.’’

Article on USGA site puts XCP golf in spotlight

The story of Xavier Prep’s golf program continues to reach far and wide.

The United States Golf Association, in some of the latest postings on its Web site,, features Xavier in section titled, 125 Years of Golf in America, focusing on the state of Arizona.

Xavier Athletic Director Sr. Lynn Winsor and co-head coach and Assistant Athletic Director Tui Selvaratnam are highlighted in the story, along with a timeline of the school’s outstanding history and commentary from players past and present.

It’s a nice read – check it out when you get a free moment.

Go Gators !!

Frosh tennis teams go 1-1 in season openers

Xavier Prep’s freshman “A” and “B” tennis team opened their seasons on Wednesday (Sept. 18).

The A team fell 6-3 to visiting Queen Creek Casteel at XCP’s Stark Tennis Center. The B team traveled to face Phoenix Mountain Pointe in Ahwatukee and came away with a 9-0 win.

The A team had three singles winners: Olivia Taylor, Reese Brown and Anna Pisoni.

The B team had four singles winners: Maria Wolowiecki, Morgan Finch, Ella Bratti and Jessyla Garcia. And Xavier got two singles wins by default. In doubles, Xavier’s Morgan Ulrich and Sofia Purcell and Ava Ryan and Tiffany Wedell scored victories, along with one win by default.

The A team returns to action again on Thursday (Sept. 19) at Stark with a 3:30 p.m. match against visiting Tempe Corona del Sol. The B team will play Mountain Pointe again on Tuesday (Sept. 24) at Stark, but with different players from the Gators’ vast roster.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

XCP golf, badminton post victories

Junior Mary Beth Doss earned medalist honors for the first time this season and Xavier Prep’s golf team rolled to a 33-shot victory over Phoenix Horizon on Tuesday (Sept. 17) at Phoenix Country Club. The match had been moved due to a scheduling conflict later in the season.

Doss shot an even-par 36 for nine holes. The rest of the top five were freshman Annie Dawson at 1-over 37, senior Ashley Menne at 2-over 38, senior Breyana Matthews at 3-over 39 and sophomore Ivy Song at 5-over 41.

Other Gator scores were:

Sophomore Ava Mayberger at 11-over 47, senior Danae Bravo at 14-over 50, sophomore Kate Ryan at 16-over 52, sophomore Audrey Sanchez at 17-over 53 and freshman Sophie Stamatis at 23-over 59.

Next up for Xavier is the Aguila Invitational on Friday (Sept. 20) and Saturday (Sept. 21) at the Aguila Golf Course in Laveen.


The XCP badminton team rebounded from a loss to Phoenix Pinnacle last week with a 6-3 victory on the road over Tempe Corona del Sol on Tuesday (Sept. 17). The JV also won 8-1.

The varsity record is at 4-2, while the JV is 5-1.

Xavier is on the road again on Thursday (Sept. 19) when it plays at Scottsdale Chaparral.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Volleyball edges Corona del Sol in another wild one

Xavier Prep and Tempe Corona del Sol have had one of Arizona's top volleyball rivalries in recent years, with Xavier winning the last two 6A Conference state championships against the Aztecs.

The two squared off at the Activity Center in Xavier’s home opener on Tuesday night (Sept. 17), and this one had seemingly more key moments than one could count.

Xavier handled the Aztecs early for a 25-15 win in Game #1, but Corona del Sol battled back for 25-11 and 25-22 wins in Games #2 and #3.

The fourth game was a classic. Xavier, attempting to force a deciding fifth game, held a 22-14 lead, only to see it evaporate. Corona del Sol tied it and then the two teams went back and forth (a team has to win by two points).

Corona del strung it out for a 29-28 lead, but Xavier came back with three straight points on a pair of blocks by senior middle blocker Jasmine Knight sandwiched around a kill shot by sophomore outside hitter Emma Soderstrom for the win.

The marathon continued in Game #5 (first to 15 points takes the match). Back and forth again. Corona del Sol clung to an 11-10 lead, but Xavier came through to score five of the final six points to earn a 15-12 victory.

“We are so happy to be able to pull this one out,’’ said Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant, whose team remained unbeaten at 13-0 while Corona del Sol dropped to 18-3. “It wasn’t our best volleyball by any stretch of the imagination,  but we gutted it out and showed some character.’’

Xavier will have a quick turnaround on Wednesday night (Sept. 18) when it plays at home again, this time against Scottsdale Chaparral.

Bryant was happy for Soderstrom, who stepped onto the floor for her first significant playing time of the season and played extremely well.

Bryant was more to the point: “She saved the day.’’

The win allowed the Gators to compile some valuable Arizona Interscholastic Association power points.

Knight came up big throughout the match on offense as well as defense, and senior libero Abby Converse and sophomore setter Alexa Shiner also made key contributions.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Freshman tennis goal: Playing "a sport for life"

 The world of a high school freshman can be filled with uncertainty and anticipation.

Participating in athletics can provide the students with an opportunity to develop a comfort level as well as relationships that often can go beyond the particular institution.

Here at Xavier Prep, the prime example is the freshman tennis program run by varsity tennis coach Laurie Martin and her staff of assistant coaches.

The program has earned awards in the past for its no-cut approach.

There have been years when the turnout numbered close to 70 or 80, and this year, there are 74 players who have joined.

Xavier freshman tennis players work on their serves, top photo, gather to receive instruction from coaches, center, and take a well-deserved break, bottom (Photos by Sr. Lynn Winsor).

Martin said about a fourth of the players have some experience and the rest do not. She and her staff will be evaluating the skill levels and will choose two teams that will face other schools on a regular basis beginning this Wednesday (Sept. 18) against Queen Creek Casteel at the Stark Tennis Center for the “A” team and Sept. 26 for the “B” team at Chandler Basha. The remaining players will be in more of a learning mode and will be placed in color-coded groups that play each other.

“We have a nice group of girls and there is good potential out there,’’ Martin said. “They are fun to coach. There is so much to teach them.

“By the end of the season, we hope that they feel comfortable playing tennis and that they hopefully will play the game for the rest of their lives.’’

The main objective in the learning process at this level is for the players to “never get bored,’’ according to Martin, and skill-wise learn the ground strokes (often with softer tennis balls that travel at a slower pace), getting their serve in play and using a basic strategy.

“You want them to try to get just one more ball over the net than their opponent,’’ Martin said.

Another goal is to put the girls in a non-pressure situation and does not make them feel like abandoning the sport. Too much of that seems to be going on these days in some sports and recently has been brought into focus by ESPN and the Aspen Institute’s Project Play.

Early in August, ESPN released videos that depicted young athletes around age 9, a female soccer player and a male basketball player, who have press conferences to announce their “retirement’’ from their sport.

The videos, entitled “Don’t Retire Kid,’’ offer reaction/encouragement from notable sports stars Kobe Bryant, Wayne Gretzky, Mookie Betts, Sue Bird and Julie Foudy.

As Martin said, she wants the interest in the game to go beyond high school and even college.

She pointed to a recent study that indicates people who play a sport such as tennis have a life expectancy of 9.7 years longer than those who do not. She wants to help reverse the non-participatory trend among youths. A study revealed that in 2008, 45 percent of kids age 6-12 were involved in a sport, and by 2018, the number had dipped to 38 percent.

“What we’re trying to do is tied to character building,’’ Martin said. “One of the main character skills is respect – respect for the game, respect for the opponent and respect for teammates. It helps kids socially. Some of the kids who have grown up here have told me their best friends are ones developed in freshman tennis.

“You want to win, but this is more about the process than the result. It’s all a journey.’’



Green Team/Xavier A

Sophia Kleingartner, Alissen Orrego, Anna Pisoni, Grace Nelson, Olivia Taylor, Riley Dowdall, Bryn Murphy.

Blue Team/Xavier B

Morgan Finch, Ella Bratti, Morgan Ulrich, Jessyla Garcia, Maria Wolowiecki, Sofia Purcell, Ava Ryan.

Red Team/Xavier A

Taylor Linaman, Campbell Linaman, Charlie Righi, Ava Baxla, Nancy Langmade, Lauren Vowels, Ashley Stelnik.

Yellow Team/Xavier B

Aurora Sanchez, Amaya Healy, Reese Brown, Caroline Cody, Kathryn Faulkner, Bailey Wolcott, Ava Hamilton.

Purple Team/Xavier A

Lilly Reaves, Anna Bowles, Maggie Wuycheck, Jenna Burch, Aubrie Silva, Regan Simmers, Nicolette Moyes, Lily Helfert.

Peach Team/Xavier B

Alex de Leon, Maddie Farren, Grace Wilson, Samantha Patton, Lillian Ash, Emily Bergeron, Sophie Saia, Dina Gorman.

Pink Team/Xavier A

Bailey Brown, Abby Chrisman, Grace Cline, Erika Verduzco, Abby Dotson, Mia Felix, Lexie Pankow.

Gold Team/Xavier B

Katie Herro, Carolyn Kain, Gabriella Konopka, Josephine Kukowski, Sydney Lodato, Aaiya Magitt, Tiffany Weddell.

Tan Team/Xavier A

Alyssa Isaac, Addison Aramian, Kimberly Contreras, Priya Mikus, Jocelyn Salgado, Madigan Moran, Stella Sciarappo, JoJo Donaldson.

Grey Team/Xavier B

Deissy Torres, Savannah Smith, Perla Akiki, Nora Hinkle, Fiona Good, Anna Gregg, Natalie Moore, Yara Stipho.

Swim-dive again in fine form with Chandler Invite win

Chomp! Chomp! Chomp!

It was another big effort for Xavier Prep’s swimming and diving team on Saturday (Sept. 15) as the Gators splashed their way to a victory in the Wolves Classic Invitational at Chandler High pool.

Xavier outdistanced 21 other teams, with 307 points. Phoenix Desert Vista was second with 228 and Mesa Mountain View was third ait 226 ½.

One of the strengths of Xavier’s team is in its relay teams, and it showed.

The Gators won all three relay events.

In the 200-yard medley relay, sophomore Gracie Munk, junior Paola Guerra, junior Jordan Herrera and junior Kelly Scott triumphed. In the 200-yard 200-yard freestyle relay it was sophomore Hope Nolan, Guerra, senior Vica Dow and Scott. And in the 400-yard freestyle relay, it was Herrera, Dow, Munk and  junior Mia Rankin.

Xavier also was strong in the individual events.

Rankin won the 200-yard individual medley and was fifth in the 500-yard freestyle. Herrera was third in both the 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard butterfly. Munk was third in the 200 IM and fourth in the 100 fly. Scott was second in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle.

And the divers put forth a fantastic effort, led by senior Maddy Sewell’s fifth-place finish out of 36 competitors. Two promising freshmen, Libby Surgent and Claira Chong, were at No. 19 and No. 25, respectively.

Xavier will be back in the pool for more action this week. The Gators will face Mountain View on Thursday (Sept. 19) at Kino Pool in Mesa. And the team will co-host the annual Xavier-Brophy Invitational on Friday (Sept. 20) and Saturday (Sept. 21) at the Brophy Aquatic Complex. Diving competition is Friday, swimming on Saturday.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Cross country, badminton excel in weekend events

Xavier Prep cross-country runners and badminton players were busy with competition on Saturday (Sept. 14).

Some of XCP’s top runners sat out the Ray Wherley Invitational at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, but the many who remained did well.

Xavier finished second among teams in the 5,000-meter varsity race. The Gators had 90 points. Flagstaff High won with 68 points and Peoria Liberty was third with 160.

And Xavier, featuring 21 of the 73 entrants in the 5,000 Freshman/Sophomore race, won that team competition with 37 points, ahead of Flagstaff (81) and Surprise Willow Canyon (113).


5,000-meter Varsity

Jessica Mirmelli, Sr., 5th, 21:11.08; Ansley Burns, So., 10th, 21:35.83; Tatum Goforth, So., 14th, 22:23.71; Sammy Braun, Jr., 15th, 22:32.64; Emily Manuelito,  Fr., 18th, 22:49.87; Erika Germinario, So., 21st, 23:08.91; Karime Morales, So., 27th, 23:46.44; Hannah Wheeling, So., 34th, 24:24.08.

5,000-meter Open (Junior-Senior)

Rishita Shah, Jr., 2nd, 23:45.17; Sophia Healy, Jr., 3rd, 23:46.99; Joey Hernandez, Jr., 5th, 24:04.21.

5,000-meter Frosh-Sophomore

Kylie Brown, Fr., 2nd, 23:09.67; Naomi Young, Fr., 3rd, 23:16.06; Olivia Charles, Fr., 5th,. 23:27.16; Cassara Ryan, Fr., 6th, 23:40.40; Catherine Alaimo, So., 8th, 24:22.74; Barbara Paez, Fr., 9th, 24:47.75; Abby Macaluso, So., 12th, 25:01.88.

Briony Campisi, So., 13th, 25:10.55; Riley Ryan, So., 15th, 25:15.71; Charlotte McClelland, So., 16th, 25:25.10; Catherine Devine, So., 25:50.81; Ellie Higgins, So., 18th, 25:56.96; MK Fairbanks, So.; 19th, 25:57.92; Grace Teevan, So., 20th, 25:58.90.

Calista Flick, Fr., 22nd, 26:05.35; LuLu Fischer, So., 24th, 26:44.64; Marissa Mansour, So., 27th, 27:02.28; Grace McClelland, Fr., 33rd, 27:24.71; Bella Titus, Fr., 34th, 27:45.66; Alma Mendez, Fr., 35th, 27:52.26; Maia Weingard, So., 62nd, 35:00.47.


Xavier participated in the annual Forner Invitational at Phoenix Sunnyslope on Saturday and the Gators had a strong effort.

Junior Lina Vanderwey finished first among No. 3 singles players. Vanderwey and senior Mayse Dunn teamed up to win the No.1 doubles division.

Seniors Alex Kockinis and Mia Byrd won the No. 3 doubles division. And juniors Sophie Riviere and Zoe Barton were second  in the No. 2 doubles division.

Friday, September 13, 2019

XCP swimmers, divers are dominant in the water

Xavier Prep’s swimming and diving team had a dominating performance on Thurday (Sept. 12) against Phoenix Pinnacle, winning 141-46 at the Brophy Prep Aquatic Complex.

Vica Dow, Paola Guerra, Haley Hubbard and Gracie Munk raced to a big victory in the 200-yard medley relay. Mia Rankin and Kelly Scott went 1-2 in the 200-yard freestyle. Jordan Herrera and Hope Nolan went 1-2 in the 200-yard individual medley.

Guerra and Olivia Paliscak went 1-2 in the 50-yard freestyle. Munk and Hubbard went 1-2 in the 100-yard butterfly. Scott and Nolan were 1-2 in the 100-yard freestyle.

Paliscak, Guerra, Nolan and Scott won the 200-yard freestyle relay. Munk and Dow went 1-2 in the 100-yard backstroke. Guerra, Rankin and Emma Sharp made it a 1-2-3 finish in the 100-yard breaststroke.

And Xavier finished off the meet with a 1-2 finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Xavier will swim in the annual Wolves Classic on Saturday (Sept. 14) at Chandler High.
Thursday was a great day for Xavier swimming and diving, with a big win over Pinnacle. A group of Gator swimmers was all smiles in between events, top photo. Divers are ready to take the plungs, middle, and coaches Mark Rankin and Jenny James take a break with some of the girls, bottom. (Photos by Sr. Lynn Winsor).

Tough Pinnacle team derails Gator badminton

Xavier Prep’s badminton team played its third game of the week on Thursday (Sept. 12) in the Activity Center. And although Gators coach Laura Forbes admitted her players appeared to be a bit tired, she wasn’t about to use that as the reason for an 8-1 loss to visiting Phoenix Pinnacle.

“Pinnacle has a good team and our records were similar,’’ Forbes said. “We knew it was going to be a tough match. We were competitive, had some good rallies, but today, they came out on top.’’

Pinnacle raised its record to 5-1, while Xavier slipped to 3-2. In the JV match, Xavier edged Pinnacle 5-4.

Forbes said she would discuss some things her team can improve upon when they gather on Friday (Sept. 13) to prepare for the annual Forner Invitational at Phoenix Sunnyslope on Saturday (Sept. 14) beginning at 8 a.m.

Junior Lina Vanderwey, the No. 3 singles player, was the lone winner for Xavier. She defeated Pinnacle’s Chloe Strachan, 21-17, 19-21 and 21-19.


Arizona’s badminton teams are using a different scoring method this season than has been used in the past.

It is called the Rally System. It is being tested this season, and the coaches will vote after the season whether to continue to implement that format on a permanent basis or return to the Traditional System.

The Rally System is similar to volleyball, where a team can score a point whether it is serving or not. It has been used in national and international play since 2005. The Traditional System only allows the serving team to score. Under the Rally format, the winning team must score a minimum of 21 points.

Pinnacle 8, Xavier Prep 1


Sydney Boyd, P, def. Mayse Dunn, X, 21-12, 21-15; Morgan Rucker, P, def. Sophie Riviere, X, 16-21, 21-12, 22-20; Lina Vanderwey, X, def. Chloe Strachan, P, 21-17, 19-21, 21-19; Bella Williams, P, def. Zoe Barton, X, 21-9, 21-14; Sam Dirks, P, def. Alex Kockinis, X, 19-21, 21-19, 21-12; Emma Dorch, P, def. Mia Byrd, X, 21-15, 21-14.


Boyd-Rucker, P, def. Dunn-Vanderwey, X, 22-20, 21-14; Strachan-Williams, P, def. Riviere-Barton, X, 21-18, 20-22, 21-14; Dirks-Dorch, P, def. Kockinis-Byrd, X, 21-16, 21-16.

Volleyball wins again, ready for home opener

Xavier Prep’s volleyball team ran its record to 12-0 on Thursday night (Sept. 12) with a 3-0 victory over Phoenix Mountain Pointe in Ahwatukee.

Scores were 25-15, 25-23 and 25-17.

Senior outside hitter Bri McKnight led the offensive charge with 18 kills, and sophomore setter Alexa Shiner supplied 31 assists.

The Gators finally will get to play at home on Tuesday night (Sept. 17) with their home opener against Tempe Corona del Sol. Xavier defeated the Aztecs in last year’s championship match, giving the Gators their second straight crown.

Xavier will have a second home match on Wednesday (Sept. 18) against Scottsdale Chaparral before traveling to Las Vegas for the annual Durango Invitational next weekend.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Gator volleyball No. 22 on MaxPreps national list

Xavier Prep is now in the national upper echelon of volleyball teams, according to the most recent Top 25 listing by MaxPreps.

The Gators move into the Top 25 at No. 22 after being MaxPreps’ No. 33 team in the preseason.

Xavier, the two-time defending 6A Conference state champion, was off to an 11-0 start in 2019 entering Thursday night’s match in Ahwatukee against Phoenix Mountain Pointe. Xavier won the annual House of Payne Invitational in Chandler over the weekend, taking nine straight matches over the two days.

Way to go, Gators !!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

XCP volleyball quiets Queen Creek to go 11-0

Fresh off a championship run in the House of Payne Invitational over the weekend, the Xavier Prep volleyball team kept things rolling on Tuesday night (Sept. 10) with a 3-1 victory on the road against Queen Creek.

Scores were 25-14, 25-22, 22-25 and 25-12.

Xavier, now 11-0, has another road match on Thursday night (Sept. 12) at Phoenix Mountain Pointe in Ahwatukee.

Xavier’s first home contest, on Sept. 17, will feature a rematch against Tempe Corona del Sol, the team the Gators defeated for the 6A Conference state championship last season, Xavier’s second in a row.

The Gators also will play another home match the next night, on Sept. 18, against Scottsdale Chaparral, before heading to Las Vegas that weekend for the annual Durango Invitational.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Xavier badminton team appears to be on a roll

Xavier Prep appears to be developing a badminton team that is capable of having a strong regular-season record, which would in turn give the Gators confidence in the state tournament.

Xavier won its second match in as many days and third overall on Tuesday (Sept. 10), handling Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor 8-1 at the Activity Center. The JV squad also finished with a win, 6-3 over SDO.

The Gators will host their third home match of the week on Thursday (Sept. 12), against Phoenix Pinnacle at 4 p.m. Xavier will participate in the annual Forner Invitational tournament on Saturday (Sept. 14) at Phoenix Sunnyslope.

Varsity results

Xavier Prep 8, Sandra Day O’Connor 1


Mayse Dunn, X, def. Lauren Francis, SDO, 21-13, 21-12; Sophie Riviere, X, def. Charity Mattingly, SDO, 21-12, 22-20; Lina Vanderwey, X, def. Serena Hernandez, SDO, 21-9, 21-12; Zoe Barton, X, def. Rachael McKeever, SDO, 19-21, 21-14, 21-9; Alex Kockinis, X, def. Rylee Bayus, SDO, 23-21, 21-19; Mia Byrd, X, def. Rilynn Dunshee, SDO, 21-12, 22-20.


Francis-Hernandez, SDO, def. Dunn-Vanderwey, X, 15-21, 21-18, 21-18; Riviere-Barton, X, def. Mattingly-McKeever, SDO, 21-12, 21-23, 21-13; Kockinis-Byrd, X, def. Bayus-Dunshee, SDO, 13-21, 21-19, 21-12.

Next great Gator golfer just might be Ivy Song

Xavier Prep sophomore Ivy Song seems to be getting better and better on the golf course.

She shot a 5-under-par 31 on Tuesday (Sept. 10) to take medalist honors and help the Gators defeat Tempe Corona del Sol and Mesa Desert Ridge in a three-way match at Phoenix Country Club. It was the second medalist effort for Song this season.

Xavier senior Ashley Menne and junior Mary Beth Doss finished in a tie for the No. 2 spot at 3-under 33.

“I know Ivy is very excited about the way she is playing and so are we (coaches and teammates),’’ said Xavier co-coach Tui Selvaratnam. “All the hard work she put in over the summer is paying off. All of the girls worked hard.’’

A light breeze and puffy cotton-ball clouds greeted the golfers as tee time approached.

“It was nice and cool with the 90s (temperature), at least compared to 115 or something like that,’’ Selvaratnam said.

Other Xavier finishers: senior Breyana Matthews, tie for 4th, 1-over 37; freshman Annie Dawson, 6th, 2-over 38; senior Sydney Trout, tie for 8th, 6-over 42; sophomore Kate Ryan, 12th, 7-over 43; sophomore Ava Mayberger, tie for 13th, 9-over 45; senior Danae Bravo, tie for 13th, 9-over 45; senior Sissi Wang, 15th, 10-over 46; sophomore Audrey Sanchez, 16th, 12-over 48; and freshman Sophie Stamatis, tie for 17th, 17-over 53.

The Gators have had a heavy early season schedule but now get a 10-day break. They will resume play on Sept. 20-21 in the annual Aguila Invitational at the Aguila Golf Course in Laveen.

Badminton team wins second straight match

Xavier Prep’s badminton team earned its second victory in a row on Monday (Sept. 9) with a 7-2 victory over visiting Glendale Mountain Ridge at the Activity Center. The JV triumphed by the same score.

The match was exciting, as three of the six singles battles went three sets and all three doubles meetings went three sets.

The Gators will be back in action on Tuesday (Sept. 10) with a home match against Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor. Start time is 4 p.m.

Varsity results

Xavier Prep 7, Mountain Ridge 2


Kaitlin Tucay, MR, def. Mayse Dunn, X, 21-17, 21-4; Sophie Riviere, X, def. Morgan Pearson, MR, 22-24, 21-9, 21-11; Lina Vanderwey, X, def. Shivani Bahl, MR, 21-9, 21-10; Zoe Barton, X, def. Ali Roskelley, MR, 21-18, 19-21, 21-9; Alex Kockinis, X, def. Alison Pedersen, MR, 22-20, 21-15; Mia Byrd, X, def. Jenna Dickson, MR, 21-23, 21-19, 21-11.


Dunn-Vanderwey, X, def. Tucay-Pearson, MR, 24-22, 17-21, 21-16; Bahl-Pedersen, MR, def. Riviere-Barton, X, 21-18, 11-21, 21-19; Kockinis-Byrd, X, def. Roskelley-Dickson, MR, 23-25, 22-20, 21-7.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Xavier/Brophy mountain bikers 6th in first race

The Xavier Prep/Brophy Prep mountain biking team finished sixth out of 19 Division I teams in its first race of the year on Sunday (Sept. 8) at Fort Tuthill County Park in Flagstaff.

Xavier had three riders among the top 20 in the JV1 race, which featured 5.8-mile laps.

They were sophomore Hailey Schwartz (10th, 1:29.48.10), senior Heather Kwapiszeski (11th, 1:29.48.61) and senior Erin Hill (19th, 1:45.02), over the 3-lap race.

Xavier had three finishers in the JV2 race and one in the Freshman race.

The JV2 riders were senior Catherine Wandachowitz (28th, 1:14.09, 2 laps), senior Sam Sandoval (29th, 1:17.10) and sophomore Aria Tseffos (41st, 1:29.11).

And the freshman rider was Chloe Lindeback, (22nd, 1:15.39, 2 laps).

Xavier’s next race will be Sept. 21 at Pioneer Park in Prescott.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Volleyball makes big statement by winning tourney

Seventeen hours. Sixteen teams. Four hundred and sixty one points. Seemingly countless bottles of water and sports drinks consumed.

And one trophy.

It belongs to Xavier Prep’s Gators.

They won the two-day volleyball marathon that was the House of Payne Invitational on Friday (Sept. 6) and Saturday (Sept. 7) at Chandler High with performances that evoked the same type of all-around play that led to 6A Conference state championship wins in their previous two seasons.

After defeating Mesa Mountain View in its season opener earlier in the week, Xavier won nine matches in the House of Payne. Due to time constraints, matches were the best two of three instead of the best three of five. Xavier is now 10-0.

The Gators put an exclamation point on the proceedings with a 25-14, 25-16 defeat of Gilbert Highland, which had upset highly regarded state runner-up Tempe Corona del Sol in its semifinal. Xavier defeated Phoenix Horizon in its semi, 25-20 and 25-19.

Xavier defeated Phoenix Greenway, Tucson Salpointe Catholic and Mesa Red Mountain on Friday, and on Saturday defeated Gilbert High, Phoenix Desert Vista, Chandler Basha, Phoenix Sunnyslope, Horizon and Highland.

Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant was understandably pleased with the outcome.

“I was super impressed,’’ she said. “We have seven new players and seven returning players, and for us to get on board with everything this fast, this early is a real accomplishment.’’

You could point in just about any direction and find a Gator who made a contribution.

Start with senior outside hitter Bri McKnight. She had her usual assortment of powerful swings and she looked good defensively, particularly with digs along the back row. For her efforts, tournament officials designated her as the event’s Most Valuable Player while heading the All-Tournament Team.

Fellow senior and middle blocker Jasmine Knight also had a strong impact on both sides of the net. Senior outside hitter Juli Westfall and sophomore middle blocker Bella Sinacori already are supplementing McKnight and Knight with their efforts up front.

Bryant said Westfall “was huge’’ with her hits, particularly in the late stages of the tourney, and Sinacori is rapidly rising after playing on the JV team as a freshman last season.

Sophomore Alexa Shiner continues to refine her setting skills with consistent play. Junior Zaira Reyes also can be effective as a setter/opposite, and gives the Gators a boost with her serves. She had three aces among Xavier’s final five points in the Game 1 win over Horizon.

And let’s not forget senior libero Abby Converse, who has become the team’s emotional, vociferous leader.

It indeed was an encouraging weekend, giving the Gators something they can put in their memory banks to rely on during the rest of the season.

“The girls have worked super hard and are committed to success. They have a lot of pride and pride goes a long way,’’ Bryant said.

Xavier will play twice this coming week, both on the road. On Tuesday (Sept. 10), they will travel to Queen Creek, and on Thursday (Sept. 12), they are at Phoenix Mountain Pointe in Ahwatukee.

XCP cross-country team finishes 3rd in Peaks

Xavier Prep’s cross-country team had a solid showing in its first meet of the year on Saturday (Sept. 7), finishing third out of 14 teams in the Peaks Invitational at Flagstaff’s Buffalo Park.

Competing in the top 5,000-meter Summit division, the Gators were at 105 points, behind winner Flagstaff (53 points) and second-place Tucson Salpointe Catholic (68).

Host Flagstaff, very familiar with the course in its home territory, had the top individual in Hana Hall, who at 19:30.29 was the only runner to finish below the 20-minute mark.

Xavier had two runners finish in the top 10 of the 97-runner field. They were sixth-place junior Jamie Stelnik (20:43.01) and eighth-place senior Mia Olsen (21:24.72).

Other Xavier runners: senior Grace Valandra (28th, 23:11.35), freshman Reyna Silva (29th, 23:11.46), sophomore Maria Benitez (34th, 23:22.91), sophomore Erika Germinario (37th, 23:28.45) and freshman Emily Manuelito (74th, 25:28.06).

Xavier will head north again on Sept. 14, this time to Prescott for the Ray Wherley Invitational at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Swimmers, divers have strong effort but fall just short

Xavier Prep’s swimming and diving team gave it a good run in its season opener against defending state champion Scottsdale Chaparral on Thursday (Sept. 5), but came up just a bit short, 104-82.

The Gators had some strong swims at Scottsdale’s Cactus Park Pool to keep it close.

The 200-yard medley relay team emerged victorious, with sophomore Gracie Munk, junior Pao Guerra, senior Olivia Paliscak and junior Kelly Scott.

Scott also had a big day in a few individual events, winning the 50-yard freestyle and finishing second behind senior teammate Vica Dow in the 100-yard freestyle. And Munk touched the wall first in the 100-yard butterfly.

In 1-meter diving, senior Maddy Sewell finished second. A couple of freshmen also showed promise. Libby Surgent finished fifth and Claira Chong finished eighth.

Xavier will have a busy week coming up.

The Gators will compete in the annual Wolves Classic at Chandler High Pool. The divers will hit the water on Tuesday (Sept. 10), and the swimmers will take the plunge on Sept. 14. In between, XCP will have a dual meet on Sept. 12 against Phoenix Pinnacle at the Brophy Prep complex.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Xavier's champion runners have great deal of depth

A cast of thousands could carry Xavier Prep to its second straight Division I cross-country title in 2019 and 11th in its history.

Well, maybe not thousands. But how about 40?

It certainly seems like thousands. Having 40 on the roster is virtually unheard of.

But that is what winning a title will do, having a group of runners who are willing to work hard.

Of the 40, there are only four seniors and four juniors. The rest are sophomores (18) and freshmen (14). And most of those upperclassmen are quality runners. Four of them figured prominently in the title triumph.
These four  Xavier Prep runners would like to win another state cross-country championship banner to go with this one. They are, from left, senior Grace Valandra, senior Mia Olsen, junior Jamie Stelnik and junior Sammy Braun. (Photo by Don Ketchum).
“We had all of these girls come out for tryouts, maybe 10 more than that, and all of the 40 showed they are willing to do what it takes,’’ said Xavier coach Dave Van Sickle. “I think this is the biggest group I’ve ever had.

“Our older girls are more fit than they were last year. They worked hard during the summer. The younger girls will learn how it goes and they will be in this spot in the coming years.’’

He thinks his team is better than last year, but one of the challengers can also be placed in that category. Phoenix Desert Vista, which finished fourth behind the Gators, Chandler High and Gilbert Highland in the team standings last year, has three new key runners, including two sisters from Minnesota and a third runner from Florida.

“We can’t really worry about them, though,’’ Van Sickle said. “We can only control what we do.’’

The Gators are led by senior Mia Olsen and junior Jamie Stelnik, who finished fifth and seventh, respectively, among individuals last year, as well as senior Grace Valandra, who was 18th. Junior Sammy Braun, who was 23rd, also should give the Gators a kick.

“Olsen and Stelnik have improved equally since last season, and Valandra is ready to go,’’ Van Sickle said.

The Gators’ first meet is on Saturday (Sept. 7) – the Peaks Invitational at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff. They will get a good dose of competition, with 75 schools entering, including the usual strong Native American programs in northern Arizona.

“The meet is kind of a big deal with so many good runners,’’ Van Sickle said.

Surviving a tough course in a higher altitude will be a key to success.

Van Sickle said to keep an eye on a few more runners. They include senior Jessica Mirmelli, who was a member of Xavier’s championship tennis team but will have to stay away from that with a shoulder injury, according to Van Sickle, who says she is a “grinder’’ on the race course. Mirmelli also is involved in mountain biking.

The coach said that sophomore Ansley Burns had a strong summer to prepare for the season, as well as another sophomore, Maria Benitez Sanchez. And two freshmen could surface when all is said and done – Holland Carey and Reyna Silva.

“I think our team is a lot stronger,’’ said Olsen. “A lot of the younger girls are ready to step up.’’

Said Stelnik: “We’ve all been training hard over the summer, and the younger girls are showing that they are dedicated.’’

Stelnik and her teammates are motivated to win state again.

“That would be amazing,’’ she said. “If some people think we can’t do it, maybe we’ll just prove them wrong.’’

Added Olsen: “We have been able to focus on the running itself. It helps to have cross-training with the core exercises.’’

The group obviously is larger than most, “but we are getting close to each other, motivating everyone to do better,’’ Braun said. “For me, I think I will be able to do better because coach has helped me have a positive mindset for the races.’’

As a senior, Valandra is helping to provide leadership.

“That is important,’’ she said. “We have some out-of-state meets that also should help us get to know each other. Those are always fun and competitive. And definitely the state (meet).’’

So lace ‘em up and let ‘em fly, Gators, and see where the road takes you.


Catherine Alaimo, So.; Maria Benitez-Sanchez, So.; Sammy Braun, Jr.; Kylie Brown, Fr.; Ansley Burns, So.; Briony Campisi, So.; Holland Carey, Fr.; Olivia Charles, Fr.;

Catherine Devine, So.; MK Fairbanks, So.; Lulu Fischer, So.; Calista Flick, Fr.; Erika Germinario, So.; Tatum Goforth, So.; Joey Hernandez Mena, Jr.; Ellie Higgins, So.;

Kaitlyn Lauck, Sr.; Brooke Lehr, Fr.; Abby Macaluso, So.; Marissa Mansour, So.; Emily Manuelito, Fr.; Charlotte McClelland, So.; Grace McClelland, Fr.; Alma Melendez, Fr.;

Jessica Mirmelli, Sr.; Karime Morales Millan, So.; Grace Morgan, Fr.; Mia Olsen, Sr.; Barbara Paez, Fr.; Cassara Ryan, Fr.; Riley Ryan, So.; Rishita Shah, Jr.;

Reyna Silva, Fr.; Jamie Stelnik, Jr.; Gracie Teevan, So.; Bella Titus, Fr.; Gracie Valandra, Sr.; Maia Weingard, So.; Hannah Wheeling, So.; Naomi Young, Fr.


5K distance at Cave Creek Golf Course, Phoenix

Top 5 teams – Xavier Prep 71, Chandler High 93, Gilbert Highland 105, Phoenix Desert Vista 120, Mesa Red Mountain 156.

Xavier individuals (*Denotes runner graduated) – Mia Olsen, 5th, 19:09.15; Jamie Stelnik, 7th, 19:17.06; Grace Valandra, 18th, 20:07.45; *Karina Hawkins, 19th, 20:12.96; *Karina Smith, 22nd, 20:18.68; Sammy Braun, 23rd, 20:23.76; *Helen Innes, 39th, 20:48.87.