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.

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).


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