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, November 30, 2020

Hoops, soccer move toward another season

 Athletes from Xavier Prep’s basketball and soccer teams are cautiously treading down a path leading to a regular season that has been pushed back to the first week of January by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

The AIA had made the changes due to the resurgence of the Covid 19 virus with the hopes that increasing numbers of people contracting the virus will level off and begin to turn toward a safer direction.

Teams originally were to begin preseason preparations in November, with both basketball and soccer having their first games on Dec. 1. Now, the season will begin the week of Jan. 5, 2021. The AIA has not released the revamped schedules as of this writing.

Basketball had seven games erased at least temporarily, as well as its annual appearance in the annual Lady Titan Winter Hoops Classic at Phoenix Arcadia from Dec. 21-23. Soccer had four matches cast aside, and the Gators were not allowed to participate in the annual Excalibur Tournament in Orange County, Calif., per the AIA directive of no out-of-state competitions.

According to the AIA, the last permissible day of winter sports competition (including wrestling) will be Feb. 19, which includes any play-in contests (qualifying for state tournaments).

Teams also must adhere to stringent safety protocols put in place by the AIA, similar to what was done in volleyball and other fall sports. And no spectators will be allowed to attend games until the AIA deems the conditions are such that people can watch safely in person. This will be done through constant communication with schools and school districts.

Basketball tryouts were scheduled to begin on Monday, Nov. 30 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and continue on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at the Activity Center and adjoining Vestar Hall. The first day of official practices will be Thursday, Dec. 3 and continue on a regular basis throughout the rest of the month.

For soccer, freshman tryouts are due to be held from 3:15-4:15 p.m. on Dec. 1 and Petznick Field, followed by the upperclassmen from 4:30-6:30 p.m. A full tryout session for all players will be held Dec. 2 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Regular practices will begin in the days following the tryouts.

The AIA said that schools must have a minimum of 14 days of practice before any competition can begin.

All athletes trying out must wear a mask and have completed a screening from Head Athletic Trainer Laurie White and undergo a daily symptom check from the coaches.

Parents cannot attend the tryouts, and must pick up their athletes in the school parking lot along the north side of campus.

In related news, the first date of permissible practice for spring sports teams has officially been pushed back one week from Feb. 8, 2021 to Feb. 15, 2021. The AIA hopes that the championships for all spring sports will remain as scheduled on its calendar. The state’s high school sports governing body had been forced to stop spring sports in 2020 due to the onset of the virus.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Snowball rumbles, Gator v-ball tumbles with it

 Xavier Prep’s Gators saw a snowball sitting at the top of the hill on Tuesday (Nov. 17), and somebody pushed it.

Bigger and faster it came, and it became apparent that the Gators would not be able to stop it.

Gilbert Perry has been that dominant with the volleyball teams it has played during this unprecedented season that was filled with uncertainty due to the Covid-19 virus.

Perry, the defending 6A Conference runner-up, was 16-0 entering the quarterfinal game against the Premier Region rival Gators, and by the end of the evening was 17-0 after a 3-0 sweep, its third sweep of Xavier this season and 13th sweep overall.

Quarterfinal scores were 25-12, 25-13 and 25-21.

The top-seeded Pumas will go on to play again at home in a semifinal match on Thursday night (Nov. 19) against No. 4 Mesa Mountain View. Second-seeded Chandler Hamilton will play host to No. 11 Phoenix Sunnyslope in the other semi, and the winners will meet for the state title on Saturday night (Nov. 21) at Gilbert Mesquite.

Xavier finished 10-7.

“They (Perry) were a little more on their game than we were and that made it difficult for us to do much of anything,’’ said Xavier Coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.

It was duck and cover for the Gators in the first two games as powerful Perry smashed kill shot after kill shot. Xavier played better in Game 3, perhaps even dreaming of forcing a Game 4. However, those thoughts were fleeting.

Perry racked up Game 1 with a service ace and two blocks on defense. Game 2 ended in similar fashion. With the score 24-20 in Game 3, the Pumas gave XCP an opening with a long serve, but came back to clinch the match with one final kill shot.

Bryant expressed admiration for her three senior players – outside hitter Zaira Reyes, middle blocker Phoebe Lewis and team captain Kaori Robertson, the libero.

“It is tough for the seniors, but we (coaches) appreciate everything they have done for us,’’ Bryant said. “With the curriculum we have at Xavier, it is difficult to be a student sometimes, and to be a student-athlete makes it all the more challenging.

“And we are super proud of everyone. We have been living in uncertain times, but we are fortunate to have stayed healthy and safe. Above all, we were grateful to our administration for allowing us to even have a season.’’

It is hoped that a solid group of underclassmen will return in 2021-22. They are current juniors Tiffany Tellez, Emma Soderstrom, Bella Sinacori, Hannah Ulisch and Alexa Shiner. Current sophomores are Mei Tsou, Kate Tax and Lauren Vanderwey, and Finley Workman is the current freshman.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

From XCP to ASU, these golfers worth watching

 Ashley Menne and Breyana Matthews graduated from Xavier Prep in 2020, but they have embarked on a new journey after joining the golf program at Arizona State.

The pair helped XCP maintain its high standing in four years under the guidance of co-head coaches Sr. Lynn Winsor and Tui Selvaratnam, and now are the subjects of player profiles by ASU’s Sports Information Department.

Menne’s profile was published on Nov. 2 and Matthews’ was published on Nov. 16.

The profiles include background on the players’ careers to date, along with a Q&A session with each.

To read the complete profiles, begin by going to the ASU Athletic Department Web site, .

Then access the individual players on the golf team’s page . . .





We are all looking forward to following the progress of these two outstanding XCP players. They will be led at ASU by Head Golf Coach Missy Farr Kaye, also a Xavier graduate.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

XCP v-ball to meet top-rated Perry in quarter

 In the 2018, 2017 and 2016 volleyball seasons, Xavier Prep and Tempe Corona del Sol were among the teams in the upper echelon in Arizona’s 6A Conference, often squaring off in crucial matches.

Corona del Sol won the state title against Phoenix Mountain Pointe in 2016, then fell twice to Xavier in the 2017 and 2018 championship matches.

Since then, the two programs have not ascended to the same heights as their former selves, and entered the 2020 state tournament under somewhat different circumstances.

Xavier was the eighth and final team to earn a first-round bye, and Corona del Sol had to fight through the “play-in’’ round just to reach the state tournament as the No. 9 seed.

And after meeting late in the season on Nov. 3, the two teams met again at Xavier’s Activity Center in a first-round match on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 14).

“What a difference four years makes,’’ said Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.

Just as it did in the first meeting between the two, Xavier turned away a Corona del Sol team that was trying to push the contest to a decisive fifth game. In both cases, Xavier managed to survive with 3-1 victories.

The Gators began Saturday’s match with 25-23 and 25-19 wins in the first wo games. Corona del Sol stayed alive in Game 3, winning 25-20 and Xavier won Game 4 25-21.

With the win, Xavier (10-6) earned a third shot at 6A Premier Region rival Gilbert Perry, the defending state runner-up, in a quarterfinal contest at Perry (16-0) on Tuesday night (Nov. 17).

Perry swept the Gators 3-0 in both of their regular-season matches.

Of the match-up with Perry, Bryant said, “To be the best, you have to beat the best.’’

The Gators had a balanced effort against Corona del Sol (10-7).

“That’s what you have to have when it’s playoff time,’’ Bryant said.

In the fourth game against Corona del Sol, Xavier came up with some key blocks, including those by senior middle blocker Phoebe Lewis. Junior middle blocker Bella Sinacori also had her moments on defense.

Junior Emma Soderstrom, junior Tiffany Tellez and sophomore Kate Tax, all outside hitters, kept the offense going. Junior setter Alexa Shiner was steady with her passing, while senior libero Kaori Robertson and junior libero Hannah Ulisch managed to turn away more kill attempts with aggressive play than they let fall to the floor.

6A first-round state volleyball results

All matches on Saturday, Nov. 14

(Seedings in parentheses)

Gilbert Perry (1) def. Glendale Mountain Ridge (16); Xavier Prep (8) def. Tempe Corona del Sol (9); Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (5) def. Surprise Valley Vista (12); Mesa Mountain View (4) def. Queen Creek (13); Gilbert Highland (3) def. Chandler Basha (14); Phoenix Sunnyslope (11) def. Phoenix Pinnacle (6); Phoenix Desert Vista (7) def. Chandler High (10); Chandler Hamilton (2) def. Peoria Liberty (15).

Quarterfinal match-ups

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 6:30 p.m.

Xavier Prep at Perry, Sandra Day O’Connor at Mountain View, Sunnyslope at Highland, Desert Vista at Hamilton.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Gator runners finish 4th in D-I state meet

 On a damp-ish, overcast Thursday morning (Nov. 12), Xavier Prep’s cross-country team tried to get warmed up, but it did not work out as well as the Gators had hoped in the Division I state meet at Crossroads Park in Gilbert.

Xavier’s girls finished a very respectable fourth place, but could not come close to delivering a challenge to Phoenix Desert Vista, which won its second straight title.

It was Gilbert Highland that made a run at Desert Vista, finishing just three points behind the Thunder in the No. 2 spot.

Jamie Stelnik was the top individual in her final senior race for XCP, covering the 5K distance in 19:00.9, landing in 17th place. Given the fact that some of her early season was interrupted by an injury, she gave it a good effort after finishing seventh in 2019.

Desert Vista sophomore Lauren Ping proved that she is well on the way to one of the best careers by a cross-country runner in Arizona history, winning for the second time in as many tries with a time of 17:13.4.

The Thunder also had the No. 2 finisher, but it wasn’t the same as in 2019. Ping’s sister, Grace, was second a year ago but this time finished sixth as a senior. The runner-up finish this time was by junior Katie Sigerud.

“Desert Vista has a very good team, but Highland almost passed them,’’ said long-time Xavier cross-country coach Dave Van Sickle.

“For us, not everybody had their best day. I was still happy with how they ran. Everyone ran as hard as they could.’’

Desert Vista and Highland have some quality underclassmen, but Xavier fits in that category as well and looks forward to a stronger, more improved season in 2021.

“We have only one senior (Stelnik), and we have a herd of girls coming back,’’ Van Sickle said. “They are all really into it (running). Our future looks really promising.’’

Xavier state finishers

Jamie Stelnik, Sr., 17th, 19:00.9. Ansley Burns, Jr., 21st, 19:23.2. Tatum Goforth, Jr., 26th, 19:23.7. Hannah Wheeling, Jr., 35th, 19:48.4. Macarthy Mahoney, Jr., 46th, 20:03.9. Catherine Alaimo, Jr., 53rd, 20:19.2. Reyna Silva, So., 63rd, 20:44.1.

Team scores

Phoenix Desert Vista 41, Gilbert Highland 44, Gilbert Perry 82, Xavier Prep 124, Chandler High 148, Chandler Hamilton 159, Mesa Mountain View 164, Mesa Red Mountain 207, Anthem Boulder Creek 242, Tempe Corona del Sol 247, Surprise Shadow Ridge 300.


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

XCP v-ball faces Corona del Sol, tickets limited

 Xavier Prep will open the 6A Conference state volleyball tournament on Saturday (Nov. 14) with a home match against Tempe Corona del Sol. First serve is 1 p.m. at the Activity Center.

Xavier (9-6) is the eighth and final team to avoid a “play-in game’’ on Monday (Nov. 9) and is seeded No. 8. Corona del Sol, meanwhile, is 8-6 as the No. 9 seed and defeated Mesa Red Mountain in a play-in game. Xavier and Corona del Sol met late during the regular season on Nov. 3 and the Gators came away with a 3-1 victory.

The number of tickets for Saturday is very restricted due to Covid. Details about tickets and viewing it through the NFHS Network will be released on Thursday (Nov. 12). Check the Arizona Interscholastic Association Web site,

The Gators and Aztecs have had a long history of playing very competitive contests in the state tournament.

The winner of Saturday’s match will advance to a quarterfinal on Tuesday night (Nov. 17) with top-seeded Gilbert Perry (15-0) likely serving as the host team. Perry faces No. 16 seed Glendale Mountain Ridge on Saturday in a first-round match.

Perry and Xavier met twice during the regular season as Premier Region rivals, and Perry swept the Gators 3-0 in both matches, the most recent on Oct. 20 at Xavier.

Xavier’s top players are junior setter Alexa Shiner, senior libero Kaori Robertson, junior middle blocker Bella Sinacori and senior middle blocker Phoebe Lewis. The team also has two strong junior outside hitters, Tiffany Tellez and Emma Soderstrom.

Chandler Basha, the 14th seed, is the defending state champion, having defeated Perry in 2019. Another team to watch is Phoenix Sunnyslope, which moved up from 5A. Sunnyslope has won seven straight state titles between 5A and its earlier appearance in 6A.

6A Conference state tournament schedule

First round, Saturday, Nov. 14

(Seedings in parentheses)

All games, 6:30 p.m., unless noted.

Glendale Mountain Ridge (16) at Gilbert Perry (1), Tempe Corona del Sol (9) at Xavier Prep (8), 1 p.m. Surprise Valley Vista (12) at Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (5), Queen Creek (13) at Mesa Mountain View (4), Chandler Basha (14) at Gilbert Highland (3), Phoenix Sunnyslope (11) at Phoenix Pinnacle (6), Chandler High (10) at Phoenix Desert Vista (7), Peoria Liberty (15) at Chandler Hamilton (2).

Quarterfinals, Tuesday, Nov. 17

Matches at high seeds, 6:30 p.m.

Semifinals, Thursday, Nov. 19

Matches at high seeds, 6:30 p.m.

State championship, Saturday, Nov. 21

7 p.m. at Gilbert Mesquite

Play-in results

Tuesday, Nov. 10

Tempe Corona del Sol def. Mesa Red Mountain, Peoria Liberty def. Mesa Desert Ridge, Chandler Basha def. Scottsdale Chaparral, Phoenix Sunnyslope def. Surprise Shadow Ridge, Glendale Mountain Ridge def. Tucson Rincon/University, Surprise Valley Vista def. Mesa High, Queen Creek def. Tucson High, Chandler High def. Mesa Westwood.

Gator badminton eliminated by No. 1 Perry

 Xavier Prep’s 2020 badminton season came to a conclusion on Tuesday night (Nov. 10) with a 5-0 setback against three-time defending Gilbert Perry in a Division I state tournament quarterfinal at Perry.

Xavier finished the season at 8-7, primarily with its all-senior lineup. Perry improved to 15-0 and was due to play host to Chandler Basha in a semifinal match on Wednesday night (Nov. 11).

“Perry played solid badminton and were on their game. Our girls did their best to give them a competitive match,’’ said Gators coach Laura Forbes.

The seniors who will be moving on after graduation are Lina Vanderwey, Sophie Riviere, Lauren Etsitty, Mia Velasco, Malindi Kilb and Zoe Barton.

“I am very proud of the team’s effort this season,’’ Forbes said. “They played through all the Covid uncertainty, worries and protocols to have a very successful season.

“These girls were not only excellent competitors, they were often complimented on their great sportsmanship and friendly manner.

“As our full squad of seniors end their high school badminton careers, I cannot think of a better legacy for them to leave our JV team than how important it is to compete with equal parts of character and athleticism.’’

Division I quarterfinal

Perry 5, Xavier Prep 0


Kate Macpherson, P, def. Lina Vanderwey, X, 22-20, 21-9. Ashley Rodarte, P, def. Lauren Etsitty, X, 21-14, 21-15. Emma Cross, P, def. Mia Velasco, X, 22-20, 21-13. Adrianna Ramos, P, def. Malindi Kilb, X, 21-15, 21-18. Kaylee Ross, P, def. Zoe Barton, X, 21-6, 21-8.



Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Xavier riders are wheeling and dealing good results

 CHOMP CHOMP! The Gators crushed it! All riders on the virtual podium!

That was the word out of Fountain Hills from Xavier Prep mountain bike coach Rich Perrott after four Xavier Prep riders were in top form in Saturday’s (Nov. 7) Cactus Cup Juniors race at McDowell Mountain Park.

The Gators had two event winners – Mary Hill in the freshman class and Aria Tseffos in the JV race. Hill covered the 8.6-mile course in 53:06, and Tseffos rode home at 59:01.

Xavier also had the No. 2 and No. 4 JV finishers, Chloe Lindeback (1:01.42) and Grace Morgan (1:03.34).

The final two races of the three-race series will be held on Nov. 28 and Dec. 5. The November race will be held at Estrella Mountain Park in Goodyear and the December ride will be held at Papago Park in Phoenix.

Badminton wins first-rounder, now it's on to Perry

 Xavier Prep’s badminton team survived to play at least one more day in the Division I state tournament with a 5-3 victory in a first-round match against Phoenix Pinnacle on Monday night (Nov. 9).

That means the ninth-seeded Gators will need an even bigger effort on Tuesday night (Nov. 10) when they travel to face unbeaten, top-seeded Gilbert Perry, the three-time defending state champion. Perry defeated Xavier 9-0 earlier in the season, on Oct. 20.

“We obviously are going to expect tough competition,’’ said Xavier coach Laura Forbes.

Xavier raised its record to 8-6, while Perry stepped up to 14-0 with a 5-0 first-round win over No. 16 Tempe Corona del Sol. Pinnacle finished 6-6 as the eighth seed.

Xavier had defeated Pinnacle 5-4 in the regular-season opener, so Forbes knew what to expect.

“They (Pinnacle) are a very good team, good competition,’’ she said. “They got better during the season and we got better. So we feel good about where we are.’’

In state competition, the winning team does not need to reach nine points as it would during the regular season. The first team to five points wins a state match, so if a team wins five singles matches, no doubles are necessary.

They were necessary against Pinnacle. Xavier held a 4-2 advantage after the singles matches.

Xavier’s No. 2 doubles team of Mia Velasco and Lauren Etsitty started their match first, and the No. 1 team of Lina Vanderwey and Sophie Riviere began shortly thereafter. Pinnacle’s No. 2 duo defeated Xavier to make the overall score 4-3.

Carrying momentum from their fourth-place finish in Saturday’s (Nov. 7) state individual competition, Vanderwey and Riviere stepped up to defeat Pinnacle’s top pair.

“They did a great job to get to the individual semis (Saturday), so yes, I think they still had some of that,’’ Forbes said.

The coach also pointed to Xavier’s No. 5 and No.6 singles players, seniors Malindi Kilb and Zoe Barton, whose wins over Pinnacle helped to set the tone.

Xavier Prep 5, Pinnacle 3


Lina Vanderwey, X, def. Chloe Strachan, P, 21-9, 21-15. Sophie Riviere, X, def. Bella Williams, P, 21-9, 18-21, 21-19. Sam Dirks, P, def. Lauren Etsitty, X, 21-16, 21-6. Faith Kroening, P, def. Mia Velasco, X, 21-18, 19-21, 21-12. Malindi Kilb, X, def. Ari Williams, P, 21-14, 21-18. Zoe Barton, X, def. Madison Kalinowski, P, 21-7, 21-14.


Kroening-Dirks, P, def. Velasco-Etsitty, 21-12, 21-18. Vanderwey-Riviere def. B. Williams-Strachan, P, 21-15, 21-13. A third doubles match was not necessary.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Vanderwey, Riviere have big day at badminton tourney

 Xavier Prep seniors Lina Vanderwey and Sophie Riviere entered Saturday’s (Nov. 7) Division I state singles and doubles badminton competition as the No. 5 seed in doubles, and after a very busy day at Glendale Independence went home as the No. 4 team, quite an accomplishment!

Xavier's senior doubles team of Lina Vanderwey, left, and Sophie Riviere (Xavier photo).

The duo began the day with a 21-6, 21-9 victory over Chandler High’s Evelyn Gomez and Tegan Sanders. Next up was a quarterfinal match against Ellie Clarkson and Vicky Nguyen of Mesa Mountain View. Vanderwey and Riviere dropped the first game 21-18 but rebounded to earn the win with 21-11, 21-15 scores in the second and third games.

Top-seeded Nikhita Jayaraj and Ashley Rodarte of defending team champion Gilbert Perry were on their game against Vanderwey and Riviere in the semifinals, taking a 21-10, 21-7 victory. The Perry team went on to defeat No. 6 seed Tricia Despain and Hannah Doyle of Chandler Basha for the title, 21-11, 19-21 and 21-11.

Xavier had one more to go, the consolation game. The girls faced Emiko Pham and Avery Roland of Scottsdale Chaparral. Vanderwey and Riviere took the first game 21-18 but fell in the next two by identical 21-16 scores.

Vanderwey and Riviere aren’t done yet with their season, however. They will join their Gator teammates on Monday at 6 p.m. with a first-round state team tournament match at Phoenix Pinnacle.

If Xavier defeats Pinnacle as it did in the regular-season opener, the Gators would advance to the next round on Tuesday night against Perry or Tempe Corona del Sol.


Swim-dive can hold heads high after runner-up finish

 It’s very difficult to stop a locomotive that is flying down the tracks under a full head of steam.

Xavier Prep’s swimming and diving team did its best in Friday’s (Nov. 6) Division I state meet at the Skyline Aquatic Center in east Mesa and the Brophy Aquatic Center, but Scottsdale Chaparral’s powerful team left everyone in its wake.

The Firebirds won their seventh straight state crown (two in Division I, two in Division II and three more after returning to Division I, including 2020).

Chaparral was so strong that it racked up more points in one event (four swimmers in the 500-yard freestyle for 59 points) than did 11 schools for the entire meet. The Firebirds totaled 452 ½ points.

Xavier, meanwhile, finished a more than respectable state runner-up for the third straight year. The Gators posted 267 points, with Mesa Red Mountain sitting in third (208), Mesa Mountain View fourth (156) and Phoenix Desert Vista fifth (139).

The Gators did not win an event, but finished a solid second in four events (two each by seniors Mia Rankin and Kelly Scott) and two more No. 2’s in the 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle relays.

It was a difficult season in which to operate with the Covid virus in our midst, which limited or prevented spectators and led to all virtual meets during the regular season.

But head coach Mark Rankin, assistants Jenny James and Tuti Hendricks and diving coach Frank Pipitone did an outstanding job keeping it all together.

Congratulations to them and all of the Gators !!

Xavier results from Division I state swimming and diving meet

200-yard medley relay – XCP 2nd, 1:45.8 (junior Grace Munk, senior Paola Guerra, junior Hope Nolan, senior Kelly Scott).

200-yard freestyle – Jordan Herrera, Sr., 6th (1:55.05).

200-yard individual medley – Mia Rankin, Sr., 2nd (2:02.01), Grace Hull, Jr., 18th (2:14.53).

50-yard freestyle – Kelly Scott, Sr., 2nd (24.01), Lainey Weiland, So., 12th (24.95), Dylan Miller, So., 21st, (25.35).

1-meter diving – Xavier did not advance out of the Friday morning preliminaries.

100-yard butterfly – Grace Munk, Jr., 3rd (57.05), Hope Nolan, Jr., 7th (58.17), Jordan Herrera, Sr., 8th (58.18), Grace Hull, Jr., 18th (2:14.53).

100-yard freestyle – Kelly Scott, Sr., 2nd (52.17), Lainey Weiland, So., 13th (54.45).

500-yard freestyle – Mia Rankin, Sr., 2nd (4:59.57), Ashleigh Baros, Jr., 17th (5:19.31).

200-yard freestyle relay – XCP 3rd, 1:38.08 (senior Paola Guerra, junior Hope Nolan, senior Mia Rankin, senior Jordan Herrera).

100-yard backstroke – Grace Munk, Jr., 4th (57.18).

100-yard breaststroke – Paola Guerra, Sr., 5th (1:05.92), Hope Nolan, Jr., 11th (1:08.00), Ashleigh Baros, Jr., 20th (1:10.85), Regan Gunzy, Sr., tie-22nd (1:11.42).

400-yard freestyle relay – XCP 2nd, 3:32.03 (senior Kelly Scott, junior Grace Munk, senior Jordan Herrera, senior Mia Rankin).

Team scores

Scottsdale Chaparral 452 ½, Xavier Prep 267, Mesa Red Mountain 208, Mesa Mountain View 156, Phoenix Desert Vista 139, Goodyear Millennium 119, Mesa Desert Ridge 118, Chandler Hamilton 103, Peoria Liberty 92, Phoenix Pinnacle 91, Phoenix Horizon 87, Tucson High 76, Gilbert Perry 74, Tempe Corona del Sol 61, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor 59, Anthem Boulder Creek 55, Yuma Cibola 39, Chandler High 26, Chandler Basha 20, Phoenix Sunnyslope 18, Vail Cienega 17, Tucson Rincon/University 15 ½, Mesa Skyline 14, Gilbert Highland 9, Queen Creek 7, Mesa Westwood 2.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Badminton doubles seeded 5th, team starts Monday

 Division I state badminton seedings have been set for individual singles and doubles, as well as the brackets that will determine the state team champion.

The individual competition will be played first, starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday (Nov. 7) at Glendale Independence. Xavier does not have any player entered in singles, but the Gators have a formidable doubles team that is seeded No. 5, seniors Lina Vanderwey and Sophie Riviere.

They will meet unseeded Evelyn Gomez and Tegan Sanders of Chandler High in the first round. The Xavier duo was victorious in their regular-season match on Oct. 15.

If Vanderwey and Riviere advance to the quarterfinals, their opponent would be the winner of an early match between Mesa Mountain View’s Ellie Clarkson and Vicky Nguyen and Mesa Skyline’s Emily Muir and Priscilla Mendoza Mendoza, who are seeded fourth.

Vanderwey and Riviere did not play the Mountain View duo during the regular season, but fell to the Skyline pair in three sets.

All individual singles and doubles matches will be played on Saturday.

As a team, Xavier finished with a 7-6 overall record and will be the No. 9 seed. In the first round on Monday (Nov. 9), the Gators will travel to face No. 8 Phoenix Pinnacle. Xavier, however, defeated Pinnacle 5-4 in the first match of the season.

If Xavier were to defeat Pinnacle again, the road would get much tougher in the next round.

The Gators would advance to the second round on Tuesday (Nov. 10) and would play the winner of a Monday match between No. 16 Tempe Corona del Sol and No. 1, three-time defending state champion Gilbert Perry.

Xavier was swept 9-0 at Perry on Oct. 20, but rebounded the next night for a road win over Corona del Sol.



XCP swept by Hamilton again, awaits final ranking

 A 3-0 volleyball sweep at the hands of Chandler Hamilton on Wednesday night (Nov. 4) was not exactly how Xavier Prep’s Gators wanted to finish the regular season. But now the Gators will have next week to put that and a previous 3-0 sweep by Hamilton aside as the Division I state tournament moves into focus.

At midday on Thursday (Nov. 5), Xavier was listed at No. 7 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s power points rankings. The top eight will automatically qualify for the state tournament, and the next 16 will have “play-in’’ games on Tuesday (Nov. 10) to determine which eight teams will move into the “real’’ tournament that begins Nov. 14.

Xavier (9-6) had been playing improved ball of late before meeting Hamilton, which would finish at 13-2 and stand No. 2 behind Premier Region rival Gilbert Perry (15-0).

Hamilton-Xavier scores from Wednesday (Hamilton listed first): 25-15, 25-21, 25-17.

Noteworthy numbers for the Gators: junior Tiffany Tellez, 10 kills; only 2 service aces (one by Tellez); only 3 blocks (2 by junior Bella Sinacori); 27 digs by senior libero Kaori Robertson and 17 digs by junior Emma Soderstrom; and 25 assists by junior setter Alexa Shiner.

Xavier runners outdistance foes in state Sectional

 Although it did not have the same amount of teams that the Division I state meet has, Thursday’s (Nov. 5) Southwest Section state qualifier was a good litmus test for the state meet on Nov. 12.

And Xavier Prep’s Gators passed their test with flying blue colors by sending all seven of its runners across the finish line among the top 18 in the 53-runner field at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in north Phoenix.

The girls’ 5K race and the boys’ 5K just before it were in “brutally hot’’ conditions (mid 90s, uncommon at this time of year), according to long-time Xavier coach Dave Van Sickle.

“For most of our practices, we haven’t seen the sun much (before school starts),’’ he said.

Xavier appears to have a lot of quality depth this season, as indicated by the sectional finish.

Junior Jamie Stelnik was the Gators’ top runner, with a strong second-place effort at 19:04.4. She was five seconds off the winning time of 18:59.2 by Madeline Davis of Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.

Other Xavier runners were junior Tatum Goforth at No. 8 (19:54.9), junior Macarthy Mahoney at No. 9 (20:00.1), junior Hannah Wheeling at No. 10 (20:15.8), sophomore Reyna Silva at No. 12 (20:29.6), junior Catherine Alaimo at No. 15 (20:58.1) and junior Karime Morales at No. 18 (21:13.2).

Team scores were Xavier Prep 41, Surprise Shadow Ridge 82, Anthem Boulder Creek 82, Peoria Liberty 85, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor 99, Scottsdale Chaparral 131, Surprise Valley Vista 210 and Phoenix Sunnyslope 230.

The state meet will be held at Crossroads Park in Gilbert, at Greenfield and Knox roads.

Whichever team wins the title trophy will have earned it in “a weird year for everything,’’ according to Van Sickle.

“We’re maybe third or fourth on paper, but I don’t think that’s the way it finishes,’’ he said. “We’re getting better.’’

This would be the right time to do it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Extra break between matches helps v-ball improve

 Xavier Prep had its volleyball match against Chandler Hamilton on Oct. 28 postponed until Nov. 4.

It proved to be a blessing in disguise for the Gators, as they were able to put in a lot of productive work in practice, refining their skills, getting their timing down and, maybe most important, learning to communicate better.

So after nearly two weeks since their previous match against Phoenix Sunnyslope on Oct. 22, the Gators came out and handled Tempe Corona del Sol 3-1 in Xavier’s final home match of the regular season.

After dropping the first game against the Aztecs, 26-24, Xavier regrouped and won three straight, 25-16, 25-21 and 25-14. Xavier’s win was its third in a row and put its overall record at 9-5.

Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant said the opening-game setback to Corona del Sol was not a case of her team being rusty.

“We had that game but we just couldn’t put it away. Corona is a very good team and you have to make sure that you do what you need to do,’’ Bryant said.

In the second game, junior outside hitter Tiffany Tellez and sophomore outside hitter Kate Tax made some big plays and the Gators sealed it on defense with a block.

Junior middle blocker Bella Sinacori provided the decisive point in the third game with a kill after providing a block shortly before that.

Corona del Sol had the early lead in the fourth game with hopes of sending the match to a fifth and deciding game. The game was tied at 11 before Xavier went on an 8-0 run. Corona del Sol did not help itself much down the stretch with some unforced errors.

As for the match against Hamilton, Xavier will be trying to atone for a 3-0 sweep at the hands of the Huskies at Xavier on Oct. 1. Hamilton recently has been in the No. 2 spot behind 6A Conference Premier Region rival Gilbert Perry, while Xavier’s recent success has put it in the top eight in power points.

“It’s all systems go. We just have to keep working hard,’’ Bryant said.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

State swim-dive meet is real thing for talented Gators

 The time is just about here for Arizona’s swimmers and divers to show what they are made of.

Athletes from schools such as Xavier Prep have competed mostly in “virtual meets’’ over the past several weeks.

Recently, the Xavier athletes have been carrying on an annual tradition by shaving hair from their bodies (to make they are more hydrodynamic), and “tapering’’ their preparation (consolidating their workouts to conserve energy and provide more of an opportunity for rest).

Of course, state participants are required to qualify for the Division I meet, which will be held on Friday (Nov. 6) at the Skyline Aquatic Center in east Mesa. The diving portion of the meet will be held at the Brophy Aquatic Complex, also on Friday.

Swim qualifying was held recently at various locations, including the AMDG qualifier at Brophy on Saturday (Oct. 31). Seven girls’ teams, including Xavier and most of the schools from the Gilbert District, were in the AMDG.

Xavier won all three relay events and six individual events and outdistanced second-place Gilbert Campo Verde for the team title, 544-307.

The top 30 swimmers from around the state and top 24 relay teams are eligible for state action.

Xavier swim head coach Mark Rankin had 12 swimmers qualify in the individual events along with the three relay teams. The relays are possibly the strongest events for the Gators.

Xavier Prep seniors Kelly Scott, left, and Mia Rankin are ready for the Division I state meet on Nov. 6. (Photo by Don Ketchum).

Among the top Xavier individuals are seniors Mia Rankin and Kelly Scott. Rankin competes in the 500-yard freestyle and 200-yard individual medley, and two relay events, the 400-yard freestyle and the 200-yard freestyle. While Rankin relies more on endurance, Scott looks to “get up and go,’’ as she calls it, in the sprint races, the 50- and 100-yard freestyles, along with the 400-yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard medley relay.

Mia Rankin admitted it has been a “super weird season, not having any friends or family at the meets. You’re essentially swimming against yourself, while the other team swims at its home pool.’’

Whatever situation arises, Scott vows to be ready.

“Because we are seniors, this is the last one,’’ she said. “I’m going to go out there and swim as fast as I can and maybe even go out with a bang (earn a medal).’’

The biggest challenge for the Gators will be against Scottsdale Chaparral, which will be a heavy favorite after winning the last two state titles. When Chaparral went against XCP in the first virtual meet of the season, the Firebirds produced a comfortable win. Chaparral has the top state qualifiers in six individual events, plus three relays. In one individual event, the 200-yard freestyle, the Firebirds had the top four qualifiers.

Rankin calls the 200 IM “my sprint race,’’ because it is much shorter than the 500 free.

With Scott’s participation in the sprint events, “there’s not enough time to even think,’’ she says. “You are used to the speed and go out there and to the best you can.’’

She also admits that she enjoys the challenge of chasing opponents down and passing them.

Scott said she has some of what are called “fast twitch muscles,’’ which are somewhat common in these types of events. Scott added that her parents did some sprint work in track and field sprints and had similar characteristics.

The most enjoyable races, according to Rankin, are the relays.

“You are swimming with three other girls, and the race sometimes can change with any leg (of the four swimmers),’’ she said. “You want to try to give your team the lead as early as you can.’’

The girls’ and boys’ state meets have been run concurrently in the past, but this year will be the same day but at different times, boys at 8:30 a.m., girls at 2:30 p.m. to lessen the chances to exposure of the COVID-19 virus with not as many people around. Spectators are not allowed, per Arizona Interscholastic Association edict.

The Gators are wearing new suits this season, which Rankin helped with the selection of a teal/aquamarine color. Scott also was in on the fun, helping to design the light blue T-shirts that are a part of the “team uniform.’’

Once Rankin’s Xavier days are done, she will honor her commitment to study and swim at Ohio State University. Scott has not chosen a college, but she is hopeful for a chance to attend and swim at Notre Dame.

And wouldn’t it be nice if the girls could pack a state meet medal or two in their luggage to give them something to remember about their final season as a Gator?


Xavier results in AMDG state qualifying meet

200-yard medley relay – XCP, 1st (Junior Gracie Munk, senior Paola Guerra, junior Hope Nolan, senior Kelly Scott), 1:46.48.

200-yard freestyle – Jordan Herrera, Sr., 3rd, 1:56.23. Daisy Maldonado, Jr., 8th, 2:02.49. Ava Gill, Fr., 14th, 2:09.75. Citlali Chimal, Sr., 18th, 2:13.89.

200-yard individual medley – Mia Rankin, Sr., 1st, 2:06.54. Grace Hull, Jr., 5th, 2:16.03. Regan Gunzy, Sr., 9th, 2:24.15. Bella Guerra, Fr., 2:26.18.

50-yard freestyle – Kelly Scott, Sr., 1st, 23.76. Lainey Weiland, So., 3rd, 25.04. Paola Guerra, Sr., 4th, 25.10. Dylan Miller, So., 6th, 25.53.

100-yard butterfly – Gracie Munk, Jr., 1st, 56.88. Hope Nolan, Jr., 3rd, 58.66. Jordan Herrera, Sr., 4th, 58.96. Grace Hull, Jr., 5th, 1:01.64.

100-yard freestyle – Kelly Scott, Sr., 1st, 51.96. Dylan Miller, So., 4th, 55.38. Lainey Weiland, So., 5th, 55.53. Daisy Maldonado, Jr., 8th, 56.50.

500-yard freestyle – Mia Rankin, Sr., 1st, 5:03.89. Ashleigh Baros, Jr., 4th, 5:22.83. Ava Gill, Fr., 9th, 5:46.07. Citlali Chimal, Sr., 12th, 5:58.52.

200-yard freestyle relay – XCP, 1st (Senior Paola Guerra, junior Hope Nolan, senior Mia Rankin, senior Jordan Herrera), 1:39.34.

100-yard backstroke – Gracie Munk, Jr., 1st, 57.73. Claire Douglas, Jr., 7th, 1:04.39. Cassie Worth, So., 8th, 1:04.67. Bethany Barnwell, Sr., 9th, 1:05.95.

100-yard breaststroke – Paola Guerra, Sr., 2nd, 1:06.77. Hope Nolan, Jr., 3rd, 1:10.35. Regan Gunzy, Sr., 5th, 1:12.26. Ashleigh Baros, Jr., 10th, 1:14.15.

400-yard freestyle relay – XCP, 1st (Senior Kelly Scott, junior Gracie Munk, senior Jordan Herrera, senior Mia Rankin), 3:34.28.

Team scores – Xavier Prep 544, Gilbert Campo Verde 307, Gilbert High 292, Mesa Desert Ridge 274, Gilbert Highland 247, Gilbert Mesquite 124, Gilbert Classical 94.

Xavier state qualifiers

200-yard medley relay (2nd).

200-yard freestyle (Jordan Herrera 7th, Daisy Maldonado 29th).

200-yard individual medley (Mia Rankin 5th, Grace Hull 18th).

50-yard freestyle (Kelly Scott 2nd, Lainey Weiland 11th, Paola Guerra 14th, Dylan Miller 17th).

100-yard butterfly (Gracie Munk 2nd, Hope Nolan 9th, Jordan Herrera 10th, Grace Hull 23rd).

100-yard freestyle (Kelly Scott 2nd, Dylan Miller 15th, Lainey Weiland 16th, Daisy Maldonado 22nd).

500-yard freestyle (Mia Rankin 2nd, Ashleigh Baros 19th).

200-yard freestyle relay (2nd).

100-yard backstroke (Gracie Munk 4th).

100-yard breaststroke (Paola Guerra 6th, Hope Nolan 16th, Regan Gunzy 25th, Ashleigh Baros 30th).

400-yard freestyle relay (2nd).