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.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Xavier runners follow coach's advice at state meet

 The weather was a bit toasty for the start of the Division I girls state championship run on Saturday (Nov. 13) at 12:30 p.m.

So Xavier Prep coach Dave Van Sickle knew what he had to do.

“I told the girls to hold back during the first mile (the race was 5,000 meters) and save their energy for the last two, because some of the other teams would not be doing that, probably would fall back and give us a chance to do well. And it looks like they listened to me . . . for once,’’ he said with a laugh.

Led by senior Tatum Goforth, the Gators finished strong in fourth place behind winner Gilbert Highland, second-place Phoenix Desert Vista and No. 3 Peoria Liberty in front of large crowds at the Cave Creek Golf Course in north Phoenix.

The Xavier runners were all smiles as they gathered for a post-race photo with XCP Athletic Director Sr. Lynn Winsor.

Xavier runners and teammates gather for a team photo with Xavier Athetic Director Sr. Lynn Winsor, back row, in blue sport shirt. (photo by Don Ketchum).

“If they’re excited, then I’m excited,’’ Van Sickle said.

Goforth finished in eighth place with a time of 19:37.7, the highest finish by a Gator runner at state since Mia Olsen crossed the line in sixth place in 2019.

“I was thinking for a long time about this race, being my last as a senior at Xavier,’’ Goforth said. “I thought it might be hotter out there today, so all week, I made sure I was prepared. I prayed and stayed hydrated. That’s what you should do.’’

Goforth said she ran with friend and Gilbert Perry senior Taylor Lovell, who finished seventh. The two have played sports together in the past.

 “She’s a good athlete, a good runner,’’ Goforth said.

Lauren Ping of Desert Vista repeated as the individual champion, and her time of 17:37.4 was about three seconds shy of her course record. The field of runners totaled 137.

Highland’s team victory was an upset of sorts, finishing 2-3 to unseat Desert Vista.

Xavier results

Tatum Goforth, Sr., 8th, 19:37.7; Catherine Alaimo, Sr., 22nd, 20:36.8; Hannah Wheeling, Sr., 30th, 20:47.9; Reese Brown, Jr., 33rd. 20:58.9; Macarthy Mahoney, Sr., 38th, 21:11.5; Ansley Burns, Sr., 46th, 21:23.1; Lily Beaver, So., 54th, 22:56.3.

Team scores

Gilbert Highland 38, Phoenix Desert Vista 45, Peoria Liberty 90, Xavier Prep 131, Gilbert Perry 140, Mesa Mountain View 209, Mesa Red Mountain 213, Chandler High 213, Surprise Shadow Ridge 230, Tempe Corona del Sol 256, Chandler Hamilton 272, Mesa Skyline 302, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor 334, Yuma Cibola 376, Phoenix Pinnacle 398, Anthem Boulder Creek 405, Scottsdale Chaparral 450.

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