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, May 31, 2020

Media outlet lists Xavier athletics' "Forever Five''

The Arizona Republic and recently began a new high school sports feature project called the “Forever Five,’’ where the media outlet selects the top five athletes in the history of each Arizona school.

Xavier Prep’s list was announced on Sunday (May 31). The lists were chosen by the media outlet’s staffers.

The top Gators were No. 1 Heather Farr (1982 graduate), a star golfer who passed away after battling cancer in 1993, No. 2 Victoria Palmer (Heinicke, 1963) in tennis, No. 3 Amanda Blumenherst (Freiman, 2005) in golf, No. 4 Jeanne Collier (Sitzberger, 1964) in diving, and No. 5 Stephanie Rothstein (Bruce, 2002) in cross country.

For a closer look at these outstanding competitors, go to

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Menne's golf excellence surfaces again

Xavier Prep’s Ashley Menne found one more opportunity to squeeze in another honor for her before she graduates from XCP soon.

For the third time in four years, she earned a victory in the annual Golfweek West Coast Junior Open over the weekend at the Ak-Chin Resort’s Southern Dunes course in Maricopa.

A three-time individual state champion and team state champion for the Gators, Menne shot an 11-under-par 133 over 36 holes, finishing five shots ahead of her closest competitor.

After saying goodbye to Xavier, Menne will go on to play collegiately at Arizona State.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Gators' Dimond, Converse recognized by AIA

Two Xavier Prep seniors were recognized for their school activities on Saturday (May 16) by the Arizona Interscholastic Association in its annual AIA awards gala. This year’s event was a virtual presentation and featured athletes, coaches and administrators throughout Arizona.

Grace Dimond was one of three finalists from 6A Conference schools for the Scholar Activity Award. She has been involved in many XCP activities such as the XCP/BCP Drama Club, the National Honor Society and Computer Sciences.

Abigail “Abby’’ Converse has been a member of the AIA’s Student Leadership Advisory Committee for two years and has played on Xavier’s indoor and beach volleyball teams.

Congratulations to these Great Gators and best wishes for continued success as you move on to the university level!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Xavier among AIA honorees on Saturday

Xavier Prep will be among a number of schools being honored on Saturday (May 16) at 6 p.m. when the Arizona Interscholastic Association will hold its annual AIA Champions Gala.

The event will be on YouTube live (see below) instead of from the usual location at State Farm Stadium in Glendale.

The gala is held to honor outstanding achievements by players, coaches, teachers, administrators and schools throughout Arizona. Two Seniors will be named Student of the Year with each receiving a $5,000 scholarship from the Arizona Cardinals and Albertsons-Safeway.

Please support our Gators by watching the event on the AZPreps365 YouTube Channel or on

Monday, May 11, 2020

Many reasons for Gators' success in sports

There are many things about the current world health crisis that are frustrating and make people want to pull their hair out.

But there are some good things, too.

The extra time has given the media types at and here at The XCP Files an opportunity to review the school’s commitment to excellence and how the Gators stack up against the other top programs in the state.

How good are Xavier sports? Read on . . .

*At the top of this list is the Gators’ golf program, led by Vice Principal and Athletic Director Sr. Lynn Winsor and in recent years, co-head coach Tui Selvaratnam.

The Gators’ record of 36 state championships might never be broken. The team has had numerous girls go on to play collegiately and even has had a few in the professional ranks.

The most recent noteworthy players have been three-time state individual champion Ashley Menne and future Arizona State teammate Breyana Matthews, and Marymount California signee Danae Bravo.

Eve Worden, a 2019 graduate, is a member of the golf team at the U.S. Naval Academy.

*Swimmers and divers have been almost as prolific as the golfers. The Gators have splashed their way to 28 state titles, the most recent in 2018 under the late Maureen “Mo’’ Rankin, husband Mark Rankin and Jenny James. In the last two seasons under James and Mark Rankin, Xavier has had strong state runners-up finishes.

Gerry and Jeff Seaquist got the program moving in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s with 10 titles each.

Xavier had one individual state winner in 2019, Maddie Wright in the 100-yard freestyle. She soon will be an XCP graduate and will go on to study and swim at UCLA.

Another XCP graduate going on to the U.S. Naval Academy was the Class of 2019’s Alyssa Largay, who is a diver and was an intern for late Arizona senator John McCain.

*Xavier’s tennis program earned its 19th state title in 2019 but unfortunately could not make it 20 in 2020 due to the Covid-19 as it was one of many spring teams with seasons cut short.

Still, we still got to watch a pair of top-notch seniors, Erica Stutz and Lorelei Glidden, and another rising star in sophomore Ryan Kershner. Stutz will play collegiately at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa., and Glidden will play at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y.

*Indoor volleyball posted 13 state championships, the first led in 1996 by Susan Contreras, who went on to win a state crown for Xavier in badminton in 2016 and currently is an assistant for XCP’s outstanding beach volleyball program.

Xavier later won titles under Tim McHale, now the beach head coach at XCP, and his successor, Lamar-Renee Bryant. She won three titles, including back-to-back trophies in 2017 and 2018 and coached star Khalia Lanier, who was the Gatorade National Player of the Year in the 2015-16 school year and went on to excel at USC. Lanier was a second-team All-American as a senior in 2019.

Last fall, Xavier was led by two seniors, outside hitter Bri McKnight and middle blocker Jasmine Knight. McKnight will move on to the University of California-Santa Barbara and Knight to Virginia Commonwealth.

This fall, watch for another big season from junior setter Alexa Shiner, who had a breakout season in 2019 while following in the footsteps of Shannon Shields, now at Arizona State.

*Soccer and cross country have each won 10 titles. The most recent for soccer came in 2018 under coach Barb Chura and the most recent for cross country came that same year under the leadership of long-time coach Dave Van Sickle, who also is XCP’s head track and field coach.

Xavier had three soccer seniors sign letters of intent after the 2019 season. They were Taylor Garman (California Lutheran), Clara Lynch (SMU) and Megan Onofrei (Roanoke, Va.).

Senior Mia Olsen finished sixth at state last fall and now will go on to SMU in Dallas. Xavier teammate and junior Jamie Stelnik finished seventh and will be back again this fall.

*Coach Nancy Meyer set the bar high with six badminton titles and the seventh came under Contreras in 2016. In 2019, the Gators came back with a strong 10-6 finish (including state tournament) under first-year coach Laura Forbes.

*Beach volleyball has only been in existence for eight seasons in Arizona, and Xavier has won titles seven times under McHale. Quite the accomplishment.

The Gators will miss senior Abby Converse, who will go on to play beach at Stanford.

Shiner will double up in the sand again next spring, and the Gators will have an intimidating presence at the net when 6-foot-1 Stanford commit Serena Turner gets set in the sand.

*Basketball has made great strides under head coach Jennifer Gillom and should continue to do so in the next school year. Xavier was the 6A Conference state runner-up in 2018 and 2019.

*Track and field had quite a few promising young athletes out this spring, and softball was looking like it might have a shot at slipping into a contender’s role. Most of its star players should be back in 2021 and again in 2022.

So there you have it. Now you know why the future appears bright for Xavier in any sport you choose to watch, as well as the athletes' success in the classroom. Plug in a few of the Baby Gators from the 2024 freshman class and it will be well worth the wait.


Xavier Prep softball enters national picture

Xavier Prep’s Gators are among the Elite Eighty prep teams listed by the Extra Innings Softball media site.

Xavier was not ranked early in the season, but a strong 8-1 start made people take notice, and the Gators recently slipped into the No. 47 slot.

Congrats to head coach Brad Downes, his players and assistant coaches for their efforts.

We can’t wait to see what the future brings in 2021.