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.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Gator golfers storm to victory in tournament

 Lightning streaking across the sky, followed by booming thunder . . . it could only mean one thing.

Xavier Prep’s golf team is back!

The Gators, who finished as state Division I runner-up last season after picking up 37 previous title trophies, are ready to make a run at No. 38.

They racked up a large lead in Monday’s (Aug. 22) first round of the Brophy Invitational and widened the chasm in Tuesday’s (Aug. 23) second round before threatening weather conditions put a halt to the last four or five holes at Phoenix Country Club.

The final tally then reverted back to the first round, when the Gators produced about a 50-stroke lead on No. 2 Scottsdale Desert Mountain and more than 100 strokes better than the remaining four teams.

Xavier returns to PCC on Wednesday (Aug. 24) for a two-team match against Chandler High.

Xavier co-head coach Tui Selvaratnam was pleased by the victory, but wished her players could have finished Tuesday’s round because they were playing better virtually across the board than they had in Round 1.

“Today (Tuesday) we did better as a team,’’ Selvaratnam said. “In the future, we need to remember that we need to be better on the first day, because it is important.’’

Xavier had the top four individual finishers, led by junior Kate Hauptman, who shot an even-par 71 in Monday’s first round. Hauptman was at 2-under through 15 holes on Tuesday.

Hauptman was followed by junior Jayden Jevnick, junior Grace Rubelsky, freshman Madalyn Gubernick and senior Annie Dawson.

“I think this was the first time in my four years at Xavier that we played a full 18 holes at Phoenix Country Club. Usually, it’s just nine holes,’’ said Dawson, who finished in a tie for fifth in last year’s state tournament  and after graduating from Xavier will study and play collegiately at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. She committed to that school earlier this year.

Dawson agreed with her coach that she played better in the second round.

“My play with the irons, my chipping and my bunker play were improved,’’ she said.

She also is taking an active approach to her schoolwork and community work.

The team’s primary community project is to raise funds for The Birdie Project, where players seek pledges for various amounts for the birdies they pick up during the entire season (including tournaments) and it is compiled at the end of the season.

The money will go to the I Got This Foundation, started by former Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor player Amy Bockerstette, that helps bring golf opportunities to people with intellectual disabilities. Bockerstette has Down Syndrome, and played for the Paradise Valley Community College team. She was the first athlete with Down to be awarded an athletic scholarship.

“Amy is a super charming girl and this is a very worthy cause that will help her and others,’’ Dawson said.

Pledges and further inquiries for this fund-raiser can be addressed to the Xavier athletic office, c/o Annie Dawson,, and/or Tui Selvaratnam,

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