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Gaona: Southern AZ girls soccer back at title-worthy level

When Catalina Foothills fell in the Division II state semifinals a year ago, it marked the end of an era.

That loss in penalty kicks to Scottsdale Notre Dame snapped a remarkable run for Foothills, which had appeared in five straight title matches, winning four. Furthermore, it marked the first time since 2004 that a local girls soccer team didn’t reach the championship game at that level, which was previously known as Class 4A.

Almost exactly a year from that night last February, Tucson’s girls soccer scene is back.

“I think it’s better than ever because you have a lot of parity rather than one of two monsters,” Foothills coach Dave Lemon said, “There’s good quality soccer all the way across the board.”

Of the 16 teams to qualify for the Division II state tournament this winter, seven were from the Tucson area, including four in the top eight. Chances are pretty good that one of the four locals still alive will capture a championship next weekend in Phoenix.

“That would be awesome; I think it’s always a win when you get a Southern Arizona team in the championship game,” said Becky Barry, Salpointe Catholic’s second-year coach. “It’d be great to have one or two Tucson teams in the final. One would be great, two would be better — we’d be guaranteed a Southern Arizona champion.”

Salpointe, which possesses a 21-1 record, earned the No. 1 seed and is hoping to reach the final for the first time since 2001. The Lancers host ninth-seeded Sahuaro on Saturday for a trip to the state quarterfinals, after the Cougars topped No. 8 Tucson High 2-0 in the first round Tuesday night.

“They’re the team to beat and they deserve to be No. 1 with their record and quality of play over the season,” Sahuaro coach David Kruszewski said of the Lancers. “We feel like we can play against them. We’re going to give them everything we’ve got any if we play out best game we will definitely have an opportunity for sure.”

Sahuaro is the only team to beat Salpointe this season, making the matchup even more intriguing. Having them face this early in the postseason is unfortunate, Lemon said, because both are capable of winning championships.

With a victory Saturday afternoon, Ironwood Ridge would face the winner of the Sahuaro-Salpointe match in the semifinals next week. The Nighthawks finished the regular season ranked fourth, after just missing out on a state tournament berth a year ago. Despite graduating a tremendous senior class, coach Sean Watkins put together another tough team, which has lost just one of its last eight matches. That defeat came on the road against Salpointe, in overtime.

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Foothills is the lone remaining local team in the bottom half of the bracket, which also includes defending champion Notre Dame.

The seventh-seeded Falcons travel to play No. 2 Surprise Willow Canyon in the quarterfinals on Saturday but aren’t intimidated by any opponent, thanks to the high level of play during the regular season in Southern Arizona. Lemon expects one of the three local teams in the top of the bracket to reach the final and he hopes his group can continue rolling with a six-match unbeaten streak.

Even though Tucson was left without a Division II finalist in 2015, there was still another local winner in Walden Grove, which captured the Division III crown. The Red Wolves returned just about everyone and are back in the quarterfinals this season, with a tough Palo Verde squad on the opposite side of the bracket.

If the two were to meet in the final, it would only be another reminder of the quality of girls soccer in town.

“It’s as high as it’s ever been,” Lemon said. “We’re in a pretty good place right now in Southern Arizona.”

Salpointe's Holt shows loyalty, signs with Wildcats

Julius Holt doesn’t quite remember how his national signing day went back in 1981.

He was a linebacker out of Ellsworth Junior College in Iowa, ready to commit to Larry Smith’s Arizona Wildcats.

He wasn’t highly touted, in part because there wasn’t much touting back then.

There were no Twitter announcements, internet videos or signing day ceremonies in front of friends, family, coaches and teammates.

And you can be sure Holt didn’t place three school’s hats on a table in front of him, then declare on a live television broadcast where he’d be attending school by wearing one of those hats.

“It was nothing like this,” Holt said. “I remember getting my letter in the mail, I signed it, and send it back. There was no fanfare at my high school, wasn’t no videos and three-stars and four-stars and five-stars. You just showed up and played.”

Show up, and play.

If only the life of a college football recruit was so simple.

Holt can take pride in the fact that his son simplified the process. Salpointe Catholic defensive lineman Justin Holt will follow in his father’s footsteps as a Wildcat after signing his national letter of intent Wednesday morning.

After school, Holt took part in a singing day ceremony for Salpointe’s college-bound athletes.

Wearing a blue Arizona shirt with the word “LOYALTY” imprinted across the front, Holt spoke to an audience about his journey to becoming a Wildcat like his dad. In the crowd, a handful of family members wore Arizona shirts with his name on the back of them.

Other than that, it’s been a smooth ride in an otherwise bumpy recruiting season for Arizona. Holt, rated a three-star recruit by, verbally committed in March of last year. He has never wavered.

LOYALTY, for sure.

“Going into the recruiting process, I told myself that I wanted to go to the school that wanted me the most, and U of A was that school,” Holt said Wednesday.

“They jumped on me first. There were other schools recruiting me from the Pac-12 as well, but they were kind of lackadaisical about it and weren’t making as a big of a push as the U of A did.”

Justin Holt will wear No. 50, just like his dad, but the comparisons probably stop there. The UA lists Justin at 6 feet 4 inches and 285 pounds; Julius Holt played linebacker at 235 pounds.

Holt found out he’d be wearing the same number as his father from Matt Dudek, Arizona’s recruiting coordinator, who informed him in the midst of a live stream even the UA holds on signing day every year.

“That made the day great,” Holt said. “I’ve been wearing the No. 50 since I was little, and being able to wear that in college, it’s an honor for me and something I’ve always wanted to do.”

He has always wanted to be a Wildcat, too.

Justin’s godfather, Van Brandon, was a UA standout. When Justin verbally committed to Arizona last year, both Lamonte and Ricky Hunley jubilantly called the Holt family to congratulate them.

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“I remember taking Justin when he was 5 years old, 6 years old, running around the U of A,” Julius Holt said. “He’s been around a lot of U of A legends, a lot of U of A players, and he knows what it takes. He will put himself in position to compete for a job, and I think he’s up to the task.”

Arizona does, too — this is not just a “legacy recruit” for the sake of adding someone with UA blood.

Rich Rodriguez says the kid can play.

“We’ve known about him since he was a freshman,” Rodriguez said. “We identified him early. He had a great high school career. He plays in a great program. He’s a legacy guy. Knows all about Arizona.

“He’s athletic, and he could play on both sides of the ball.”

Holt helped Salpointe win a state title 2012 and has recorded 206 tackles — and 21.5 tackles-for-loss — over the last four years.

Arizona needs big bodies on its defensive line, and Holt fits the mold. Currently, only one player on the roster — Marcus Griffin — even weighs 300 pounds.

So will Holt play right away? Who knows?

But he will wear cardinal and navy, No. 50, and he’ll make his father proud.

“Since I was little, he’s been my coach,” Holt said. “Just pushing me out in the park on Sunday and Saturday when we don’t have practice. I can be a headache sometimes, but he’s always there.”

Julius added, “It’s a dream come true for my whole entire family.”

Lancers' Ksiazek a 'rare breed' heading to Air Force

Salpointe Catholic High School held “Occupation Day” Wednesday, and Lancers big and small dressed for the jobs they want to hold as adults.

Jake Ksiazek could have suited up as a pilot, a parachuter or a plain old football player. Instead, he opted to keep it simple.

The6-foot-2-inch, 225-pound senior sported a gray Air Force pullover and jeans as he signed to play football for the Falcons. Ksiazek was one of 15 student-athletes who participated in a ceremony at Salpointe on Wednesday afternoon; he was one of three Lancers who signed to play for Division I football programs.

“The education I’m going to receive at Air Force is phenomenal,” Ksiazek said. “I’m really looking forward to what that will benefit me for the rest of my life. Also, the opportunity to serve my country and still play great football really helps.”

Five Southern Arizonans will play Division I football starting next year. Ksiazek joins teammates Dylan Eickmeyer (Montana) and Justin Holt (Arizona), Ironwood Ridge’s Chase Laurita (Northern Arizona) and Nogales’ Luis Aguilar (Northern Arizona). Ksiazek, a linebacker, turned down offers from Army, Navy, Holy Cross, South Dakota State, UC Davis and UNLV to sign with Air Force.

The academy’s interest — and its location — played a role in Ksiazek’s decision. He verbally committed during an official visit to Colorado Springs, Colorado on Jan. 16.

“I love skiing and snowboarding,” Ksiazek said. “The outdoors, Colorado, that’s another good thing.”

Ksiazek has considered several different options for his service, such as becoming a parajumper, joining the special tactics unit or becoming a pilot. First, he’ll try his hand at football: Ksiazek will play outside linebacker and hybrid defensive end for the Falcons, who posted an 8-6 record and reached a bowl game in 2015.

“Jake is a rare breed,” Salpointe football coach Dennis Bene said. “He’s going to be a standout for them. He’s just a very, very physical football player and he has so much potential.”

Ksiazek grew up overseas and, as a result, didn’t play tackle football until his freshman year at Salpointe. Ksiazek had played flag football, baseball and basketball while his parents pursued jobs in the oil industry.

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“I just never would have dreamed as a freshman football player that he’d be going on to play Division I football on scholarship,” said Linda Ksiazek, Jake’s mother. “It’s quite an accomplishment and is a real testament to his athletic ability, more even than his football ability.”

Ksiazek was pulled up to varsity as a sophomore in 2013, when Salpointe went 14-0 on its way to winning the Division II state title; he even scored a touchdown in the third quarter of the championship game at Arizona Stadium.

“That game went by so fast, in my memory it’s kind of a blur,” Ksiazek said. “It was exciting playing in it and it was a good experience to have.”

Ksiazek’s junior season was cut short because of a broken left foot, but was already on Air Force’s radar. He wore a cast for eight weeks, but did not require surgery.

The setback pushed him to work even harder, Ksiazek said, and it showed in his senior season. He was arguably Tucson’s top defensive player with 122 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Ksiazek said. “Maybe that’s why it happened, to push me on the right path.”

Salpointe Athletic Commitment Celebration for Student-Athletes to Play at College Level

WHAT: Salpointe is hosting an Athletic Commitment Celebration recognizing Salpointe student-athletes who have made a commitment to play their sport at the college level.

WHEN:  Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 2:45 p.m.

WHERE:  Salpointe Catholic High School Gymnasium; 1545 E. Copper Street

EVENT:   The Athletic Commitment Celebration is a time to commend the academic and athletic successes of Salpointe students who will continue their athletic endeavors at the college level. The celebration is open to the public and media is welcome.  In alphabetical order, the following students have committed to play sports at the college level:

Brianna Aguilar-Beaucage, Grand Canyon University (Softball)
Taylor Bigelow, Pima Community College (Soccer)
Kevin Campbell, University of Montana (Lacrosse)
Robby Campillo, University of New Mexico (Baseball)
Zach Dorame, Briar Cliff University (Football)
Dylan Eickmeyer, University of Montana (Football)
Megan Flores, Pima Community College (Softball)
Tommy Garcia, Pima Community College (Baseball)
Justin Holt, University of Arizona (Football)
Rachel Islas, Eastern Arizona College (Softball)
Jake Ksiazek, United States Air Force Academy (Football)
Carly Lowry, University of San Francisco (Volleyball)
Donavan Miller, Pima Community College (Football)
Jose Osete, Cal State San Marcos (Baseball)
Hope Seasholes, Lesley University (Soccer)


Barry back, has Salpointe's girls soccer team on track

Becky Barry knew she wanted to coach after graduating from the University of Arizona in 2010, but the former Salpointe Catholic girls soccer player never imagined she’d be back at her old high school.

“At least not this soon,” Barry said, ”but I’m glad that I am.”

It wasn’t that long ago that Barry, now 27, was a Salpointe freshman entering a successful program. She looked up to the Lancers' upperclassmen as if they were U.S. national team star Mia Hamm.

“You wanted to be them as a 12-, 13-, 14-year-old,” Barry added. “It was a privilege and honor to go here and play for the school and play all four years.”

Now in her second season at the helm, Barry has brought back that sort of respect to the program. With some consistency, she also hopes to bring back a state championship.

The Lancers entered Thursday night’s regular-season finale as the No. 1 team in Division II, putting them in position to win their first state crown since 1999.

“Everyone would like to win a state title, but our goal is to see through that we play well and are focused,” Barry said. “We need to continue to hold ourselves to a standard no matter who we’re playing.”

Here are three things to know about Barry as her squad gets set for a possible postseason run, beginning next week:


In her first season, Barry made the team more organized and fitness-oriented. She also set out to hold each player accountable. The result: 36 wins over Salpointe’s last 43 matches.

“I felt I needed to be pretty strict and harsh to really make my voice known and knew they know where I was coming from,” Barry said.

Senior center back Hope Seasholes said the Lancers responded well to Barry, who was an assistant before taking over.

“I think everyone respects her, and that’s one of the biggest things about a coach,” Seasholes said. “She makes her point, and she’s loud and it’s good. We just listen.”


Barry doesn’t hold any program records from her four seasons (2002-06) at center back for the Lancers. But she carries countless memories with her more than a decade later.

“There are so many aspects of it that are exactly the same,” Barry said. “There are moments when I have to pinch myself to remind myself that I’m on the other side.”

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Barry played at the UA for four seasons. Since the Lancers see her not only as a coaching figure but a former college soccer player, she has been more relatable.

“She’s done everything and you know where she is coming from when she gives you advice,” Seasholes said. “If she tells you to do something or tells you to work harder, it motivates you to do better.”


Barry isn’t sure where she picked up her coaching philosophy, but she has stayed true to her convictions. She wants all 25 players to enjoy the experience of high school soccer — and expects one of the 25 to step up any given day.

“I’ve stuck to that,” Barry said. “I think there is a mutual respect the girls have for one another. No one is better than the team.”

Barry, a former captain for both Salpointe and UA, has helped with the development of the Lancers both on the field and off. Seasholes says the team is more vocal with Barry on the sidelines.

“I definitely have come out of my shell,” said Seasholes, a team captain. “She’s helped me talk a lot more, before I was really quiet.

“She’s helped me with the leadership role on the team.”

Marks cashes in on free kick to lead Salpointe past I-Ridge

Reilly Marks just knows how to get it done.

Two weeks after scoring the lone goal to help Salpointe Catholic’s girls soccer team beat Catalina Foothills, the senior forward came through again on Tuesday night to power the top-ranked Lancers past No. 4 Ironwood Ridge for a 1-0 win in overtime in a huge Division II, Section VI showdown.

“She find a goal when we need a goal,” Salpointe coach Becky Barry said. “We needed a goal tonight and she found the back of the net.”

Salpointe extended its winning streak to eight matches and improved to 18-1 overall with the victory while the visiting Nighthawks suffered their first loss since Jan. 6.

I-Ridge (16-3-2 overall) is off until the first round of the Division II state tournament next week but Salpointe travels to play at Sabino on Wednesday before hosting Cienega on Thursday to close out the regular season. As long as the Lancers win both, they should hold the No. 1 seed heading into the postseason.

Marks logged her second goal of the season on a free kick from the left side in the 93rd minute to break a scoreless tie between two programs that hadn’t met since Dec. 18, 2012. I-Ridge was unable to find the equalizer in the final seven minutes of overtime, snapping its six-match unbeaten streak and keeping Salpointe unbeaten in regular-season play.

“We knew it was going to be one of our hardest games of the season so we knew we had to come out and perform,” Marks said.

The goal came just moments after a corner kick by Marks from the same side of the field. She came in to field the rebound and was fouled about 15 yards from the frame. Her kick sailed high over the mixer and into the top corner inside the far post.

“I wanted to get it to the far post so I could try and give my team an opportunity to get it there,” Marks said. “But I knew I had a good enough angle to take a shot off of it and it worked.”

Even with the loss, I-Ridge is still a lock to qualify for the state tournament and coach Sean Watkins hopes his team can regroup and get healthy over the next week after a physical match Tuesday night. The Nighthawks were already without junior Kelley Koppy for the and then saw fellow midfielders Maggie Freeh and Mariah Loya leave the match with an injury.

Last year at this time, Watkins and hit team had to wait until the brackets to see their postseason fate, only to find out they didn’t qualify. It’ll be different Friday, as I-Ridge waits to see who and where it will play in the opening round and if a postseason rematch against Salpointe could happen.

“I would love it if we met them in the final,” Watkins said. “That would be fantastic.”


The state soccer playoffs are drawing near and some of the teams punched a ticket to the show Friday night while others are still battling for a spot. The No.4 Salpointe girls won the Division II, Section VI title thanks to a 3-2 overtime win at No. 6 Tucson and the No. 3 Tucson boys drew a bit closer to a title thanks to their 3-1 overtime win at No. 16 Salpointe.

The Lady Lancers (5-0) have one more match at section rival No. 5 Ironwood Ridge (Jan. 26) but the Nighthawks have a 3-1-1 record in the section which will give Salpointe the title even if the Lancers lose the match.

Tucson fell to 3-1-1 also but the Badgers are still in a great position for one of the nine at-large playoff spots available.

"Even though we lost this to Salpointe I'm still very proud of my team," senior forward Dana Perez said. "We have four seniors and we have been together since freshman year. This game was challenging and we almost pulled it off but we will move forward. I'm just proud."

Sophomore Sabrina Zepp (Alexis Cardenas) put the Badgers up 1-0 in the 26th minute and that held up until Salpointe freshman Kalista Kakou scored an unassisted goal in the 46th minute.

Paloma Teran scored in a mixer in the 64th minute to put Salpointe up 2-1 but the Badgers tied it up on a goal from Dana Hernandez (Zepp) in the 78th minute to force overtime.

Kakou (Teran) scored two minutes into the first overtime period and the Lancers held on for the 3-2 win.

"Tucson high is a great team, one of the best teams out there," said head coach Becky Barry. "We are very fortunate to come out with a win. The girls battled."

Only in her second year, Barry already has an incredible 33-6-1 record including 16-1 this year and she credits commitment to the program and game-time composure for the team's success.

The Lancers have the section title in hand but seeding becomes important now with three matches left on the regular season schedule.


Salpointe’s Jake Ksiazek chooses Air Force

Jake Ksiazek led Salpointe with 122 tackles, one of the best in the state from his linebacker position. He announced his decision to attend the Air Force Academy on Saturday.

“I’m relieved to have finally made my decision,” Ksiazek said. “I truly believe it is the right one also. I’m excited for the great opportunity the Academy can give me in terms of education, chance to serve my country and play some great football.”

Salpointe outfielder Jose Osete committed to Cal State San Marcos

Salpointe outfielder Jose Osete committed to Cal State San Marcos late Wednesday night. Osete batted .250 with a double and six RBIs and he also stole six bases for the Lancers.

Osete is the only player outside of California currently listed on the CSUSM roster.

“Thanks to the CSUSM coaches for the opportunity,” Osete said. “I had a great campus visit yesterday and got to scrimmage with the team which was great. It is going to be fun and the location is perfect for my family.”

UA commit Holt has football in his veins

Salpointe Catholic defensive lineman Justin Holt.

Holt wreaked havoc on Salpointe Catholic’s defensive line last fall, pressuring the quarterback. He had 4½ sacks and six quarterback hurries for the Lancers.

Football talent runs in Holt’s veins — his father, Julius, was a standout defensive lineman for the Wildcats in the 1980s.

Holt is doing his best to follow in his father’s footsteps, committing to Arizona way back in March of 2015. He will sign a National Letter of Intent less than a month from now.

Despite all that, Holt is frustrated: He can’t play football, practice, or train — and he hates it.

Holt broke his fibula playing dodgeball in P.E. class in November, and has been out of commission ever since.

“I was pretty (ticked),” Holt said. “When it happened I heard a crack, and when I looked down, my ankle was kind of just hanging there.”

Holt expects to make a full recovery and be ready for fall camp, but that doesn’t make the stress go away. He just started walking last week and will be able to walk without a boot and start doing agility work in the next week or so.

“It is the offseason so that helps me being able to deal with my injury a little better, but it’s still frustrating because I want to be out there working,” Holt said.

“I always get anxious, I want to be out there working, out there playing. I miss football.”

Here’s a closer look at Holt and his path to the Wildcats.

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Justin Holt

The file: Defensive lineman, 6 feet 1 inch, 285 pounds. From Salpointe Catholic High School.

Recruiting trail: Holt committed to the Wildcats early in the process, before he even really had a chance to receive scholarship offers from other schools. “I felt like it was the perfect time to do that,” he told the Star. Before committing, Holt said UCLA and Utah were expressing interest, and he took an unofficial visit to UCLA with his father.

The numbers: As a senior, Holt finished with 79 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble for the 5-5 Lancers.

In 2013, Holt teamed with UA corner Cam Denson to guide Salpointe to a state title. That year, Holt tallied 46 tackles, four tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries.

He said it: “From a competitive standpoint I want to get out there and start getting better. The other kids in my class are out there working hard and I want to do the same.” — Holt

Marks nets lone goal to lift Salpointe over Foothills in girls soccer

Even though Salpointe Catholic’s girls soccer team entered Wednesday night ranked seven spots ahead of Catalina Foothills, it wasn't even thinking about looking past the eight-time state champions. Regardless of records and standings, the Lancers knew they would have their hands full.

That was exactly the case for 71 minutes before senior forward Reilly Marks launched a perfect shot for the lone goal, giving Salpointe a 1-0 win against Foothills. The Lancers, ranked fourth in Division II, improved to 6-0 in regular-season matches and 13-1 overall with the victory, their second against the No. 11 Falcons this season.

“The rankings are one thing but you always have to play the game,” said Becky Barry, Salpointe’s second-year coach. “Foothills is a great team and great competitor; I’m proud of our girls to be able to pull it out tonight.

“It was a great game all the way through to the end. Foothills stuck in it, competed and they were in every play. We just found the back of the net.”

Salpointe controlled the ball most of the game and intensified its pressure in the second half. The Lancers broke through 31 minutes into the period went freshman midfielder Kalista Kakou found Marks open for a shot from about 25 yards out on the right side. Marks took a couple dribbles before turning and sending the ball into the top corner of the net, just inside the far post.

“It was more of a team effort,” Marks said. “Everybody put a little into it and they got it to me. It just happened to be a great shot.

“I saw the corner; I’m pretty happy with the result.”

But even after Marks scored, the Lancers buckled down to make sure Foothills couldn’t find the equalizer over the final nine minutes of the match.

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The Falcons, who were held to just three shots, had a chance on a corner kick in the final moments of the game but couldn’t convert. One of their best opportunities came early in the second half on a free kick from about 20 yards out but junior midfielder Olivia Lai sent it high over the crossbar.

“We were on our heels the whole game,” said Dave Lemon, Foothills’ second-year coach. “The first half it kind of settled down and we were playing a lot on emotion but they let us have it in the second half. Hats off to them, they played great soccer.”

Neither Barry and Lemon said they would be surprised to see each other again down the road, with the state tournament just three weeks away. Salpointe reached the quarterfinals last season before losing to Scottsdale Notre Dame, which took out Foothills in the semifinals before going on to win the Division II state crown.

Foothills closes out the regular season with five straight home matches, starting with 22nd-ranked Marana on Friday night. Meanwhile, Barry hopes her team can stay focused and healthy with six matches over the next 14 days, in order to get back to the postseason.

“The expectation is that we qualify for state,” Barry said. “The girls have bought in; they believe in themselves, they’ve entrusted us as coached to lead them but they are the ones that have done the work day in and day out.”


Ed Doherty Trophy returns with St. Mary's vs. Salpointe Catholic football game

Ed Doherty was an innovator and a football pioneer, who led both Arizona State and Arizona, and put Phoenix St. Mary's and Tucson Salpointe Catholic on the high school map.

So it was due for St. Mary's and Salpointe to finally reunite and return the Ed Doherty Classic next football season. The game will be played Aug. 19 at Phoenix College. The last time the teams met was 2010.

Doherty coached St. Mary's to back-to-back big-school state championships in 1967 and '68, and led Salpointe to the big-school final in 1981.

"This game is so important on so many levels," Salpointe coach Dennis Bene said. "In my opinion, the parochial schools must play each other more often in all sports, whenever possible."

Bene initiated having the Doherty Trophy dusted off for the return of the game.

After he saw that St. Mary's was in the same conference, he called his athletic director and discussed bringing the game back.

"I don't want the history of these schools and the relationships of the former great coaches to be forgotten," Bene said. "When I was hired by Pat Welchert, I heard so much about St. Mary's because of the way Welchert and other Salpointe assistants spoke of (former St. Mary's coach) Pat Farrell. He was revered by those guys.

"But when I was at Salpointe from 1980-84, we never played St. Mary's. Ed Doherty and Pat Farrell are legendary coaches. Pat Welchert worked for both of them and I played for Ed Doherty."

The Ed Doherty Trophy was at St. Mary's since 1997.

The 2005 state playoff game between St. Mary's and Salpointe "was like a state championship for me personally," Bene said.

"Pat Farrell was their coach, and they had the gold playoff pans on," he added. "Many Salpointe alum attended the game. It was surreal. In my mind, winning that game and getting that trophy back to Salpointe was a way I could honor Coach Doherty. That's how important that was and is to me."

Boys Hoops: Salpointe outlasts Sunnyside in overtime, 74-68

They say basketball is a game of runs and that was the case Tuesday night when Salpointe Catholic came back from nine points down only to give up an 11-point lead before outlasting Sunnyside 74-68 in overtime.

Sunnyside (11-5 overall, 6-1 in ranking games) came into the game as the top-rated Division II team in the state according to the latest AIA/MaxPreps rankings while Salpointe (11-4, 6-1) held down the 10th spot but none of that matters with about five weeks left in the regular season.

Both teams, in a sense, are still learning things about themselves and this game will help as they prepare for sectional play. Then it will matter.

"A couple of our guys have never played in a game like this and they got some good playing time tonight," Sunnyside head coach Rob Harrison explained. "We showed some grit and still had a shot to win it."

Three Blue Devils fouled out of the game, including senior standout Jacob Inclan, causing Harrison go deep into his bench but the Lancers responded at times with uneven play. It seemed like no one wanted to win and no one wanted to lose.

"We couldn't shoot well at the beginning but then we responded after taking one possession at a time," Salpointe coach Brian Holstrom said. "We were hot and cold but we chipped away when we were down and Jacob Inclan came up big when we were up. It was a great atmosphere."

Inclan hit a 3-pointer with 3:30 left in the second quarter to give Sunnyside a 26-17 lead and it looked like the Lancers were going to crumble at that point. It was Inclan's third 3-pointer of the game to that point and his 11th point overall but the game changed quickly with the Blue Devils going scoreless for two minutes while Ethan Parkhurst went to work at the free throw line.

Parkhurst made six straight free throws to cut the lead down to 26-23. Parkhurst would go on an hit two 3-pointers to start out the third quarter and the Lancers took a 36-32 lead with 4:23 left in the period.

Cesar Ozuna sparked another run with a quick bucket and that was followed by back-to-back 3-pointers from Carlos Lozoya and Inclan. The mini-run put Sunnyside back up 40-36 but Cameron Miller, Parkhurst and O'Brien closed out the quarter with three straight 3-pointers to give the Lancers a 45-40 lead.

The 3-pointers kept on coming and a bucket from Isaac Cruz gave Salpointe a 56-45 lead with 5:06 left in the game. It looked and sounded like it was over. The Lancer student section responded to every 3-pointer as expected but Inclan was still on the floor.

A basket from Lozoya and two more 3-pointers from Inclan made the score 57-53 with 3:08 left. A free throw from Eddie Krasinski made it 58-53 with 1:35 left. Inclan had fouled on the play but the Blue Devils were still in it after Salpointe had a turnover and some missed free throws down the stretch. Lozoya hit two free throws to cut the Lancer lead down to 58-55 and then Mikey Silva nailed a 3-pointer with 1:13 left to tie the game up 58-58.

Salpointe turned the ball over and Sunnyside held on for the last shot but it came up short. Overtime.

The two teams battled back and forth and Sunnyside took a 63-62 lead with 1:41 left on a pair of Ozuna free throws but then came Miller. Miller converted on an old-fashioned 3-point play and then made four more free throws to give Salpointe a 69-63 lead with 33.6 seconds left and he did it with his father, Sean Miller, sitting in the stands. Miller is the head coach of the University of Arizona. Ozuna fouled out in the process but Sunnyside was still in it.

Lozoya hit a 3-pointer with 25.2 seconds left and the lead was down to 69-66 but then Francisco Betancourt fouled out. O'Brien responded with three free throws and the Lancers led 72-66 with 8.2 seconds left.

Incredibly, Sunnyside still had a chance after a Lancer turnover. Lozoya converted on two more free throws and the Salpointe lead was down to 72-68 with 11 seconds left but Krasinski put the game away with two free throws to preserve the 74-68 win.

Inclan finished with 20 points to lead Sunnyside while Lozoya added 17 and Ozuna scored 10 more. Parkhurst led all scorers with 21, Cruz had 14 and Miller and O'Brien scored 13 each for Salpointe.

The loss was the Blue Devils third in the last four games. Two came in overtime and another was by one point. Only a last-second shot prevented a fourth loss.

"I can't wait till we win one by double-digits," Harrison said jokingly. "We have to stop fouling with the score tied and take care of some other things. But we were still in this game."

Sunnyside hosts No. 31 Tucson (10-7, 5-4) on Friday. The Badger's overcame a 13-point deficit to Sahuaro in the fourth quarter Tuesday night to win the game 57-55 so the Blue Devils better not overlook their rivals.

Salpointe will visit No. 18 Rincon/University (11-6, 6-2) on Friday. The Rangers feature 6-foot-10-inch Brendan Rumel. It should be another great game.

"The fans saw two of the best teams in the state play tonight," Holstrom added. "We were fortunate we played this game in our house. Sunnyside is a great program."

2015 Girls Volleyball Player of the Year: Carly Lowry, Salpointe Catholic

What she did: The 6-foot senior outside hitter amassed 553 kills, 348 digs, 44 aces and 29 blocks to help Salpointe come within one victory of reaching its first state championship match since 1970. The Lancers were the lone state semifinalist from Tucson and finished the regular season ranked fourth in Division II.

Top performance: Lowry had a season-high 37 kills in a five-set loss at Ironwood Ridge on Oct. 20. Two weeks later, the senior finished with a match-high 22 kills in a sweep against Gilbert Mesquite, sending Salpointe on to the Division II state semifinals.

What’s next: Lowry earned an academic scholarship with San Francisco and will also walk on to play for the women’s volleyball team, which went 17-14 this fall. She’s considering studying journalism with the hopes of becoming a sideline reporter.

2015 Fall Sports All-Stars: Boys Golf

2015 Fall Sports All-Stars: Boys Golf 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Trevor Werbylo, Salpointe Catholic

COACH OF THE YEAR: Jim Flannery, Salpointe Catholic

Click here to read a blog post about how the Star selected Trevor Werbylo as the 2015 boys golfer of the year.

Boy’s Swim All-Stars: Salpointe's Matt Hough named Coach of the Year

All-Southern Arizona

Swimmers of the Year
Brooks Fail, Catalina Foothills
Braden Christensen, Cholla

Coach of the Year
Matt Hough, Salpointe

State Champions
Team: Salpointe
Brooks Fail, Catalina Foothills: 500 Free
Braden Christensen, Cholla: 200 IM
Steven Rothe, Salpointe 100 Fly

Second Place
Erik Orr, Rincon/University: 100 Free
Brent Zang, Cholla: 200 Free
Brent Zang, Cholla: 500 Free
Braden Christensen, Cholla: 100 Back
Salpointe: 400 Free Relay
(Jackson Breshears, Eric Hardy, Liam Blair, Steven Rothe)

Third Place
Brooks Fail, Catalina Foothills: 200 Free
Salpointe 200 Free Relay
(Eric Hardy, James Hines, Jackson Breshears, Kevin Balserak)
Will Newman, San Manuel: 100 Back

Fourth Place
Will Newman, San Manuel: 200 IM
Liam Blair, Salpointe: 100 Back
Ryan Blanchard, Salpointe: 100 Breast
Rincon/UHS 200 Free Relay
(Erik Orr, Ethan Done, Andrew Johnson, Tristan Daniels)

Brooks Fail, Catalina Foothills: 2
Braden Christensen, Cholla: 2
Steven Rothe, Salpointe: 2
Brent Zang, Cholla: 2
Jackson Breshears, Salpointe: 2
Eric Hardy, Salpointe: 2
Erik Orr, Rincon/UHS: 2
Will Newman, San Manuel: 2
Liam Blair, Salpointe: 2


Salpointe girls capture first Brandon Bean crown since 2008

Salpointe Catholic’s girls soccer team won its tournament for the first time since 2008 on Saturday night.

The Lancers (6-0) held off defending state champion Walden Grove 1-0 to win the Brandon Bean Kickoff Classic.

“It was amazing,” said Becky Barry, Salpointe’s second-year coach. “Two great teams that played competitive the whole tournament, showed up, played some great soccer. I’m proud of the girls of how they competed, all tournament long, tired legs.

"They came out tonight and fought and found the back of the net.”

Junior forward Rachel Kinnison scored the game winner in the 49th minute.

“It was kind of crazy, in the box, there was a lot of people and it was kind of hard to see, but I don’t know, I got the ball, turned and shot,” Kinnison said. “I thought the keeper was going to save it, so I was a little nervous.”

Walden Grove (5-1) won the Division III state championship last season and had won 18 straight matches. The Red Wolves hadn’t lost since Dec. 30, 2014.

Although Salpointe puts on the season-opening Brandon Bean tournament every year, this is the first time the girls have won it in seven seasons.

“It feels really good, we haven’t won it for a while,” Kinnison said.

Salpointe beat Mountain View 2-0, Flowing Wells 7-0 and Sunnyside 6-0 in pool play and then Cienega 5-3 on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals and Mountain View 2-0, again, in the semifinals.

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Salpointe alumnae and FC Tucson women’s player Kelly Pierce Kearns coaches the Mountain Lions.

“It was a great tournament, great competition through out,” Barry said. “It was really phenomenal, a nice way to kick off the season.”

Last year the Lancers went 1-1 against the Red Wolves, winning 2-1 in overtime in the Walden Grove Invitational.

“It was a big win,” Kinnison said. “We played Walden Grove in the tournament last year and both matches we played them were really tough.”


It has become the soccer rivalry in Southern Arizona and it's a good one. The Salpointe girls defeated Walden Grove 1-0 on a goal by Rachel Kinnison in the 49th minute to win the championship of the Brandon Bean Invitational Saturday night but the match was just round three of a heavy weight fight.

Salpointe (6-0) defeated Walden Grove 1-0 in the first meeting between the two schools back in 2013 but no one could have guessed what was in store.  That fall was just the second full varsity season for the Red Wolves and the team would remarkably turn around and win the Division III state championship a year later.

Not only did Walden Grove (5-1) win the state title last year, the rivalry with Salpointe became a heated one.

The Lancers beat Walden Grove 2-1 during pool play at the Walden Grove Invitational last year but the Red Wolves knocked off Salpointe 1-0 in overtime to win the championship a few days later on a goal by All-State standout Isabella Solorza.

And here we are again.

The goal by Kinnison has given Salpointe a 3-1 margin against Walden Grove but the two teams might meet up again at the Walden Grove Invitational in three weeks. Even better, both schools will be in the same region next year. Game on.

"They are a really tough team. It's going to be a good battle," Kinnison said about the prospect of playing Walden Grove more often.

The game had few shots on goal with Madison Hargis stopping Solorza a couple of times but Kinnison took advantage of a mixer and let one fly.

"The goal box was really crowded and kind of crazy," Kinnison added. "I couldn't see my shot and I thought the goalie was going to save it because their keeper is really good but we just had to keep taking shots."

Kinnison was mobbed by her teammates a few seconds later, letting her know her shot found net.

Solorza already has seven goals this year (giving her 53 goals in 40 games) so stopping her became a priority and Salpointe defender Taylor Bigelow covered her like a glove. Still, Solorza had a couple of chances.

"We just want to stay humble and work hard," Solorza said. "It's a tough loss but we want to get them back in our tournament. They are a fun team to play"

Cienega goalie Kayla Birbeck was named Outstanding Goalie in the girl's bracket and Tucson freshman Sabrina Zepp was named Most Outstanding Field Player.

"I knew I had a great tournament and I was hoping I would be recognized," Birbeck said. "I was little sad we couldn't keep playing but all in all I think we are getting back into it. We are doing good."

Carly Lowry tops the Girl’s Volleyball All-Stars

Girl’s Volleyball All-Stars

Player of the Year
Carly Lowry, Salpointe

Freshman of the Year
Summer McDonough, Desert Christian

Coach of the Year
Heather Moore-Martin, Salpointe

All-Southern Arizona

First Team
Carly Lowry, Salpointe
Mia Sokolowski, Tucson
Alexis Orth, Ironwood Ridge
Macy Kurtz, Ironwood Ridge
Peyton Lewis, Salpointe
Kayley Mohr, Ironwood Ridge
Brielle Sterns, Sahuaro
Kelsey Siemons, Catalina Foothills
Jaelyn Olsen, Ironwood Ridge
Maddy Meyer, Salpointe
Alanna Durate, Salpointe
Hannah Semon, Ironwood Ridge

Second Team
Abi Nash, Sahuaro
Anita Eichenour, Catalina Foothills
Maggie Scheppelman, Salpointe
Sam Stinnett, Catalina Foothills
Morgan Nash, Sahuaro
Bailey Gin, Tucson
Kali Iago, Cienega
Allie Weaver, Salpointe
Baylie Stephens, Ironwood Ridge
Lauren Brown, Canyon del Oro
Mattea Reeb, Mountain View
Madi Nash, Sahuaro

Salpointe wins boys state title; Lancers second on girls side

Moments before Sabino swimmer Taylor Nations dove into the water in her last high school race, the senior adorned an oversized jacket and Ugg boots to keep her warm and loose. Once Nations tossed the jacket and slipped out of her winter footwear, she had tunnel vision for each wall.

With the Sabercats trailing a second behind Salpointe Catholic in the 400-yard freestyle relay, the anchor Nations sped past the other swimmers as if they were in slow-motion, which allowed Sabino to capture a win in the final race of the day.

The win was also the last in Nations' illustrious high school swimming career. While the Sabercats finished fourth, they took home the most hardware. Nations, who will swim for the Arizona Wildcats, won in three events and was named the AIA's Division II swimmer of the year. Second-year coach Melanie Paulsen took home the AIA's award for Division II coach of the year.

“It hasn't set in yet,” an emotional Nations said after her final race. “I'm feeling relief that its all over, but I'm sad this is my last high school meet. I wasn't sure what to expect.”

Earlier in the meet, Nations tied with Veritas Prep junior Katie Higgins in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 55.39 second, a personal-best for each swimmer.

“It's funny, I was actually thinking before 'what if we tie?'” said Nations, who also won the 100 backstroke in 56.70. “It was both of our best times and we really pushed each other.”

As Nations starred for Sabino, it was the Salpointe Catholic girls swim team that used a slow and methodical team-approach. Despite not winning any races, and just two second-place finishes paired with one third-place finish, the Lancers were the Division II state runners-up.

Salpointe Catholic celebrates after winning the Division I boys swimming state championship on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at Skyline Aquatic Center in Mesa.

On the boys side, Salpointe Catholic cruised to a Division II state title, finishing with 236 team points. The Lancers scored points with two third-place finishes (200 medley relay and 200 free relay), a second-place finish in the 400 yard free relay and a title from senior Steven Rothe in the 100 butterfly.

Despite flying under the radar heading into the state meet, Rothe knew it was possible to win it all.

“That was our goal, we wanted to win,” Rothe said. “We came here, weren't mentioned in the paper, and we did it. Being called a state champion sounds awesome. There are no words to describe this feeling. I love my teammates, every single one of them.”

Salpointe eliminated by Notre Dame in girls volleyball state semifinals

For the second straight year, Salpointe Catholic's girls volleyball team had its season cut short by Scottsdale Notre Dame.

The Lancers had their five-match winning streak ended in the Division II semifinals with a 3-0 (26-24, 25-10, 25-21) loss against the top-seeded Saints on Saturday at Gilbert Mesquite.

Salpointe struggled to match up with the Saints, who returned the majority of their team from a year ago, including 6-foot-3-inch senior Willow Johnson, the daughter of 10-time MLB All-Star and former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson. She finished with a match-high 22 kills.

“There weren’t really a lot of adjustments to make,” Salpointe coach Heather Moore-Martin said. “She scored for them from every position on the court. You either need to match it or you need to take care of little details when you have the chance.

"We had the chance, we just didn’t take care of the details and take care of the volleyball. We really needed to win that and it came down to just a couple plays. It was a critical time.”

Salpointe senior Carly Lowry scored six of seven points in one stretch, including three straight aces, to give the Lancers a 21-18 in the first set.

“When you have someone across from you that is making kills, you just want to make one right back,” said Lowry, who finished with a team-high 20 kills. “That was definitely a big push.”

Lowry later tied the score at 24-24, but the Lancers eventually lost the set.

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"(Lowry is) an amazing leader," Moore-Martin said. "She led us wonderfully all year. It's going to be tough to replace a leader and a point scorer like that. She's just a great defender, a great blocker, a great attacker.

"It's going to be tough to lose her."

Salpointe showed signs off life early in the second, scoring on three consecutive attacks from Lowry to pull within 5-4, but that was as close as they got.

Salpointe bounced back in the third set, getting as close as 20-18, but again the Saints proved to be too much, as a tip from Johnson over three defenders ended it.

“We fought hard in Set 1,” Moore-Martin said. “The first set is pretty much make-or-break in a game of this magnitude. You win Game 1 and it’s a different night.”

Girls volleyball: Lowry leads Lancers to sweep, state semifinal berth

Salpointe Catholic's girls volleyball team didn’t know what to expect coming into Thursday’s state tournament match against 12th-seeded Gilbert Mesquite, after the Wildcats had stunned No. 5 Ironwood Ridge with a sweep just two nights earlier.

But rather than be nervous or worried, senior Carly Lowry and the fourth-seeded Lancers just got down to business.

Salpointe cruised past visiting Mesquite 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-21) in front of a packed house, to finish the year unbeaten at home and pull within one win of its first state championship appearance since 1970. The Lancers (18-1) face top-seeded Scottsdale Notre Dame in the Division II state semifinals on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Gilbert Mesquite.

“It’s going to be hard, we’re definitely going to have to work hard,” said Lowry, who finished with a match-high 22 kills and eight digs. “But it’s definitely nothing that we can’t accomplish. We’ve gotten so far already, we’re not ready to give up any time soon.”

Notre Dame topped eighth-seeded Glendale Deer Valley in straight sets on Thursday night to reach the semifinals and has swept nine straight opponents. The Saints (18-1) eliminated Salpointe in the second round last year.

“They really haven’t changed much from last year; they return practically everybody except their setter,” said Heather Moore-Martin, Salpointe’s third-year coach. “I think it’s going to be a really tough match for us but we need to continue to just stick to our game plan.”

Lowry finished off a dominant first set with an ace and then helped the Lancers pull away in each of the next two sets, after Mesquite fought back and kept things close.

With Salpointe on the brink of securing the win, junior Maggie Schepelmann had a kill to put the Lancers up 24-21 in the third set. Fellow junior Megan Cracchiolo sealed the match with an ace moments later.

“We always discuss, ‘What to we do in our gym? What do we do in our place?,’” Schepelmann said. “We grind, we serve, we pass and we win here. So we just focused in and got the job done because we’re a team that gets the job done.”

Tenth-seeded Sahuaro – the only other Tucson-area team playing in the second round of the Division II state tournament – lost at No. 2 Goodyear Millennium on Thursday night 3-1 (25-12, 25-27, 25-21, 25-18). Junior Brielle Sterns finished with a team-high 18 kills.

“It’s been a great season for us,” Sahuaro coach Rachel Balsiger said in a phone interview. “We had some injuries and bounced back the best we could and we have a lot of great people coming back next year.”

Volleyball Playoffs: Lowry Sends Salpointe to Semifinal Round

Carly Lowry knew her team had their quarterfinal match won against Mesquite from the start. Everything was in place. Teamwork. Support. Momentum.

With nine kills in the first set, nine more in the second and four in the third, Lowry led No. 4 Salpointe to a 3-0 sweep over No. 12 Mesquite at home Thursday night. The win also sends the Lancers to the Division II semifinals against No. 1 Notre Dame on Saturday.

But, still, Lowry credits her teammates.

"We are all so united. I knew we had it from the beginning," Lowry said. "Peyton (Lewis) and I have connected really well and I couldn't do what I do without knowing Alanna (Duarte) is behind me."

Mesquite took an early 5-1 lead in the first set and it looked like the Wildcats were riding the same wave that swept them over No. 5 Ironwood Ridge on Tuesday night. That straight-set upset in the first round was a shocker and it was fueled by taking advantage of numerous Nighthawk mistakes and by the play of senior Brianna Hawkins.

Hawkins came down with a severe ankle sprain in the second set of that win but she stayed in the match to the end and then got the start Thursday at Salpointe.

Her 11 kills against Ironwood Ridge were devastating. Unstoppable. Her nine kills at Salpointe were equally big but they weren't nearly enough to overcome the Lancer attack and Salpointe ran away with the first set 25-13.

"We turned our program around and our team has been on the rise since my sophomore year," Hawkins said with her ankle wrapped in ice after the match. "Just making it this far. We have never done that before."

Hawkins is in the process of completing her college recruitment to play for Southern and her teammate, junior hitter Jordan Schumacher, will soon be on her way to play for New Orleans.

Schumacher finished with 16 kills and is just shy of 500 on the year. She kept the Wildcats alive in the second set but the Lancer machine pulled out a tough 25-22 win despite seven scores from Schumacher including two kills to cut Salpointe's lead down to 23-22.

It looked like the Lancers were going to blow the Wildcats out in the third set after building a 9-2 lead but Hawkins came alive and recorded two kills and two blocks to pace Mesquite to a 7-0 run to tie it up 9-9.

But the Wildcats could never quite get over the hump. Kiley Tonge served an ace to cut Salpointe's lead down to 22-21 but Salpointe closed it out 25-21.

Carlos Flys took over a struggling Mesquite program and turned it into a power in just three years. He felt a sense of accomplishment for his seniors.

"When we beat Ironwood Ridge we came in not knowing what to expect and we played with joy," Flys explained. "Then reality set in and we came up a against a great Salpointe team.

"But our seniors have had a great ride. They were key to turning this program around. I am happy for them and we have great players coming back," he added.

Mesquite made it to the semifinal round in 2004 after knocking Whitney Dosty and Salpointe out of the playoffs in the quarterfinal round earlier in the day that year. At that time the quarterfinal round was the third round.

The Lancers never really recovered and only made it out of the first round a few times since that day. That all ended Thursday night when Lowry came through and delivered on something that even Dosty was unable to do. A trip to the semifinal round.

Heather Moore-Martin is in her third year at Salpointe after taking the Catalina girls to a runner-up finish in 2011. She has built an incredible 34-5 record this year.

"These girls totally support each other. They are all about doing what's best for their teammates," Moore-Martin explained on the difference with this team.

"We can count on Carly for doing what she did tonight. She has chosen to do a lot of things she needs to do before she plays for San Francisco and she has worked hard."

Lowry will play both sand and indoor in college and she has improved her game tremendously according to Moore-Martin.

As for a rematch with Notre Dame?

"They are the same team we lost to last year," she pointed out. "Not much different. If we play our game and not get caught up in the hype then we should do well."

Notre Dame defeated Salpointe 3-0 in quarterfinal round last year.

Lowry had eight digs to go with her 22 kills. No other Lancer had more than four kills. Lewis finished with 32 assists and Duarte had 13 digs.

Payten Russo had 18 assists for Mesquite.

Salpointe finished in second place in 1970 under Waldine Cormier.

Salpointe advances to state volleyball Final Four

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - In the beginning it looked like the Mesquite Mustangs might have a little something for the 4th seeded Salpointe Catholic Lancers.

Some of the same fight they used to oust #5 Ironwood Ridge on Tuesday night. It didn’t last long. 

The Wildcats took an early 6-2 lead in the opening set but the Lancers behind crisp passing and precision serving quickly turned the match in their favor and cruised to a three-set sweep (25-13, 25-22, 25-21) to advance to the Division II Final Four.

Senior outside-hitter Carly Lowry led the way with 22 kills for the Lancers.

Salpointe Catholic (35-4) will face top seed Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep (30-9) Saturday at Mesquite High School in the state semifinals. First serve at 2 p.m.

Elsewhere in Division II, Sahuaro (22-7) saw their season come to an end as the Cougars lost to Goodyear Millennium 3-1.

Flagstaff joins Millennium, Salpointe Catholic and Notre Dame Prep in the Division II Final Four.

State Golf: Trevor Werbylo & Salpointe take 2nd

Desert Edge junior Aaron Ramos won the Division II state championship by one stroke over Salpointe standout Trevor Werbylo (140-141).

Werbylo was leading 67-68 after the first round at the Randolph Golf Course in Tucson but several golfers took turns taking the lead on Tuesday when Ramos went 1-over on the 10th hole but back-to-back birdies on the 12th and 13th turned back the tide. He shot a bogey on 18th to make things interesting though.

Werbylo shot a bogey on the 17th hole which proved to be the difference. This was the second year in a row Werbylo finished runner-up.

"I feel I played pretty well today but I missed a few putts," Werbylo explained. "That's what it came down to."

Ramos improved from 36th two years ago to sixth last year before winning it all this year. Part of his success was qualifying for and playing in the U.S. Junior Amateur this summer.

"That was some of the best golfing I have ever experienced. It was amazing," Ramos explained. "I'm a better player for it."

Ramos didn't know he had won the state championship until he left the course.

"I knew I could shoot low numbers on this course," Ramos said. "But winning still hasn't hit me yet."

Campo Verde pulled off a stunner by defeating Salpointe by 12 strokes after being down 302-294 leading into the final day. The Coyotes finished in fifth place last year.

Salpointe was also the runner-up in 2011.

Salpointe, Sahuaro advance in girls volleyball state tournament

Fourth-seeded Salpointe Catholic advanced to the Division II state quarterfinals on Tuesday night while No. 5 Ironwood Ridge was upset in the opening round.

The Lancers beat No. 13 Chandler Seton Catholic 3-0 (25-8, 25-21, 25-19) and host No. 12 Gilbert Mesquite on Thursday night, after the Wildcats stunned I-Ridge at home, 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-23).

Tenth-seeded Sahuaro was the only other Tucson-area team to win its first-round match, as it knocked off No. 7 Prescott 3-1 (18-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-21). Here's a look at Tuesday's local first-round results:

Division II

First round

No. 4 Salpointe Catholic 3, No. 13 Chandler Seton Catholic 0 (25-8, 25-21, 25-19)

No. 12 Gilbert Mesquite 3, No. 5 Ironwood Ridge 0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-23)

No. 10 Sahuaro 3, No. 7 Prescott 1 (18-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-21)

No. 3 Flagstaff 3, No. 14 Tucson 0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-20)

No. 2 Goodyear Millennium 3, No. 15 Rincon/University 0 (25-12, 25-21, 25-9)

Werbylo, Williams lead golf championships

Salpointe Catholic’s Trevor Werbylo and Amphitheater’s Jessica Williams both hold leads heading into the final 18 hole of the Division II golf state championships at Randolph Golf Complex.

Werbylo, a junior, shot a 5-under 67 on Monday morning to take a one-stroke lead in the boys field while Williams sank a hole-in-one and finished with a 1-over 71 to take the lead in the girls event. The final rounds begin Tuesday at 8 a.m. at Randolph Golf Complex.

Here’s a look at Monday’s first-round results, including Division I girls action in Laveen:


At Aguila Golf Course in Laveen (par 72)

Through 18 of 36 holes

Top 10 teams – Phoenix Xavier 285, Goodyear Millennium 312, Salpointe Catholic 318, Scottsdale Chaparral 330. Chandler Hamilton 331, Scottsdale Notre Dame, 338, Phoenix Pinnacle 347, Mesa Red Mountain 351, Ironwood Ridge 353, Phoenix Desert Vista 356.

Top 20 individuals – Snyder, XAV, 68; Mahar, XAV, 68; Su, CHAP, 71, Harris, SAL, 72; Smith, MILL, 73; Li, HAM, 73; Fitzpatrick, XAV, 73; Scotton, MILL, 75; Lower, CDS, 76; Worden, XAV, 76; Fujitani, HAM, 76; Padilla, PIN, 76; Kapanicas, ND, 77; Caldarelli, XAV, 78; Nguyen, SDO, 78l Quihuis, SAL, 79; Veres, MILL, 79; Reyes, DR, 79; Greig, MESQ, 79; Miller, IR, 80; Harvey, NCAN, 80.

Other Southern Arizona golfers – Esquivel, SAL, 83; Huether, SAL, 84; Lewis, BUE, 87; Davis, SAL, 87; Thies, IR, 88; Nielsen, IR, 91; Acosta, IR, 94; Gallo, IR, 96.


At Randolph Golf Course (par 72)

Through 18 of 36 holes

Top 10 teams – Salpointe Catholic 294, Gilbert Campo Verde 302, Catalina Foothills 304, Chandler Seton Catholic 314, Sabino 315, Phoenix Arcadia 316, Gilbert Williams Field 317, Buckeye Verrado 321, Peoria Sunrise Mountain 322, Cave Creek Cactus Shadows 330.

Top 20 individuals – Werbylo, SAL, 67; Ramos, DE, 68; Grimes, AJ, 71; Burkholder, CVER, 71; Aurilia, ARC, 72; Duarte, SAL, 72; De Zavala, SET, 73; Meyer, CVER, 73; Koepke, SAG, 74; Rustand, SAB, 74; Harris, SAL, 75; Cohen, CF, 75; Blohm, CF, 75; Neal, LH, 76; Fiore, MAR, 76; Salvanera, QC, 76; Schwab, SET, 76; Rowe, BM, 77; J. Goode, CF, 77; T. Goode, CF, 77.

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Other Southern Arizona golfers – Cordova, MV, 77; Mauerhan, SAB, 78; Gray, SAB, 80; Lozier, SAL, 80; Telford, MAR, 81; Fischer, RR, 81; Nilsen, CF, 83; Gee, SAB, 83; Smith, SAHT, 84; Kennedy, SAL, 85; Stachel, MV, 86; Alloway, SAB, 87; Salsbury, WG, 88; Chesney, WG, 90; Benson-Uhlig, WG, 96; Crest, WG, 99; Rojahn, WG, 100

At Dell Urich Golf Course (par 70)

Through 18 of 36 holes

Top 10 teams – Sahuaro 323, Phoenix Arcadia 344, Cave Creek Cactus Shadows 355, Catalina Foothills 363, Chandler Seton Catholic 376, Cienega 385, Lake Havasu 390, Buckeye Verrado 397, Glendale ironwood 406; Lee Williams 433.

Top 20 individuals – Williams, AMP, 71; Ottman, SAH, 72; Voisard, ARC, 75; D’Ortenzio, SHAD, 77; T. Hughes, SAH, 79; Kaahanui, MCC, 80; Flores, CIEN, 81; H. Hughes, SAH, 82; Larson, SCR, 82; Makie, BUCK, 83; Hanke, ARC, 83; Griffin, CS, 84; Van Zanen, ARC, 84; Benavidez, MAR, 85; Brown, COMBS, 86; May, CDO, 86; Rodgers, IRON, 86; Warner, PAGE, 88; Churchhill, CD, 88; Tejeda, CF, 88.

Other Southern Arizona golfers – Miller, CF, 90; Guerrero, SAH, 90; Jobst, CF, 92; Hutchison, CF, 93; Pico, MAR, 95; Carter, CF, 95; Hutchison, CIEN, 97; Griesser, CDO, 100; Caldwell, CIEN, 102; Cole, FW, 104; Bravo, SAH, 105; Waer, CIEN, 105; King, CIEN, 111; Bort, CDO, 116; Federico, CDO, 143; Fleetwood, CDO, 151.

Salpointe's Harris ready to tee off against Xavier at state

Salpointe Catholic sophomore Haylin Harris found herself in Tulsa, Oklahoma, three months ago, trying to prove she was one of the best golfers in the country.

At the US Girls' Junior Championship, Harris needed to make a downhill, right-to-left putt on a playoff hole to sneak into the field of 64.

She made the putt, securing her spot as one of the nation's best.

“My favorite part of golfing is when I have a lot of pressure with a putt and I have to take my time to try to figure out the perfect read,” Harris said. “And then, try to make it.”

Since finishing her first high school season as Division II's state runner-up, Harris has carried that confidence into this season, as the Lancers have moved up to play stiffer competition in Division I.

“It gives me a lot of confidence because I've been in that position before, so I kind of know what to do,” Harris said. “I try to just get my mindset back to where I have, that same focus and concentration. I've done it so many times over the years it kind of just happens naturally.”

Salpointe Catholic enters the 36-hole state tournament at Aguila Golf Course in Laveen ranked second while Harris sits at No. 11 in the individual rankings. The Lancers will have its work cut out for them against top-ranked Phoenix Xavier, the four-time defending champion. (Local tee times listed below).

The Star caught up with Harris last week as the Lancers prepared for the state tournament. Here is what she had to say: 

What has the move up to Division I done for your game?

A: It pushes me and doesn't allow me to slack off or lose my train of thought and concentration. I have to stay focused for all 18 holes against better competition. Its a little tougher. Our main competitor has been Xavier, I can't wait to play them at state.

What did last season's Division II state tournament runner-up finish teach you?

A: Last year, on the first day, I struggled. I was a little bit off and that's because of my shots that went off the side of the fairway and hit some trees. I didn't have a lot of confidence with those shots I was playing. The main thing I got out of that was to just commit to the shot and go after it. You really can't think about it, it's hard not to. But when I have a bad hole, I just try to calm myself down and I take my time on the tee and try to get my train of thought back.

What do you do well as a golfer?

A: When I'm hitting the ball well, I hit the ball very straight and consistent. I'm usually a pretty good putter, too.

How are you feeling heading into state? What have you been working on?

A: I'm feeling pretty good. I've been struggling with my game a little bit, but I've been working really hard. I'm figuring some things out, but I think I'll be ready for state this year. I've been working on my long game, I've been kind of struggling and haven't been hitting as well as I normally do.

What the toughest part about golf?

A: It's more of the mental part of the game. It takes a lot of work, a lot of concentration to focus for 18 holes and not fall apart. It just takes a lot of practice. I basically practice everyday of the week, a couple of hours a day. If I just played, I'll work on the thing I need to most.

What has recruitment been like for you so far?

A: I've received a letter of interest from 22 schools and have six full-ride scholarship offers. I have scholarships from Mississippi State, Michigan State, Furman, Clemson, Auburn and Virginia Tech. Gonna keep it up.

Nine Tucson-area girls volleyball teams qualify for state tournaments

Salpointe Catholic and Ironwood Ridge were two of five Tucson-area girls volleyball teams to qualify for the Division II state tournament, when the Arizona Interscholastic Association revealed brackets Friday.

The the fourth-seeded Lancers and No. 6 Nighthawks will both host first-round matches on Tuesday night while No. 10 Sahuaro, No. 14 Tucson High and No. 15 Rincon/University travel to play.

Desert Christian, Pueblo and Walden Grove qualified for the Division IV tournament, which begins Friday in Prescott Valley. The Gregory School was the lone local program to earn a post in the Division V tournament, which is also at Prescott Valley Event Center.

Here's a look at the Tucson-area teams that qualified along with their first-round opponents:

Division II

16 teams, single elimination

First round – Tuesday, 6:30 p.m

No. 13 Chandler Seton Catholic at No. 4 Salpointe Catholic

No. 11 Cave Creek Cactus Shadows at No. 6 Ironwood Ridge

No. 10 Sahuaro at No. 7 Prescott

No. 14 Tucson at No. 3 Flagstaff

No. 15 Rincon/University at No. 2 Goodyear Millenium

Division III

No Tucson-area teams qualified.

Division IV

16 teams, single elimination

First round – Friday at Prescott Valley Event Center

No. 11 Queen Creek American Leadership vs. No. 6 Desert Christian, 1 p.m.

No. 9 Pueblo vs. No. 8 Glendale Prep, 1 p.m.

No. 16 Walden Grove vs. No. 1 Thatcher, 5 p.m.

Division V

16 teams, single elimination

First round – Friday at Prescott Valley Event Center

No. 13 The Gregory School vs. No. 4 St. David, 10 a.m.


Division II

First round: Tuesday, Nov. 3, 6:30 p.m., High Seed

Quarterfinals: Thursday, Nov. 5, 6:30 p.m., High Seed

Semifinals; Saturday, Nov. 7, 12 & 2 p.m., Gilbert Mesquite

Championship: Tuesday, Nov. 10, 5:30 p.m., Gilbert Mesquite

Division III

First round: Thursday, Nov. 5, Prescott Valley Event Center

Second round: Friday, Nov. 6, Prescott Valley Event Center

Quarterfinals: Friday, Nov. 6, Prescott Valley Event Center

Semifinals: Saturday, Nov. 7, Prescott Valley Event Center

Championship: Saturday, Nov. 7, Prescott Valley Event Center

Division IV

First round: Thursday, Nov. 5, Prescott Valley Event Center

Quarterfinals: Friday, Nov. 6, Prescott Valley Event Center

Semifinals: Saturday, Nov. 7, Prescott Valley Event Center

Championship: Saturday, Nov. 7, Prescott Valley Event Center

Division V

First round: Friday, Nov. 6, Prescott Valley Event Center

Quarterfinals: Friday, Nov. 6, Prescott Valley Event Center

Semifinals: Saturday, Nov. 7, Prescott Valley Event Center

Championship: Saturday, Nov. 7, Prescott Valley Event Center


Salpointe keeps playoff hopes alive with win over Badgers

Salpointe Catholic erupted for 28 second-half points Friday to beat visiting Tucson High 38-24 and notch its 22nd straight victory against the Badgers, extending a streak that dates back to 1993.

But more importantly, the victory on homecoming night has the Lancers one win from qualifying for the Division II state playoffs, in a season many declared over just a few weeks ago.

“Everybody counted us out, but these kids have fought and fought and fought,” Salpointe coach Dennis Bene said. “We’re going in next week, senior night at home, with a chance to make the playoffs.

“That’s right where we need to be.”

Senior running back Dominic Salaz rushed for 200-plus yards for the second week in a row as Salpointe amassed 443 yards on the ground to win its third straight game. Prior to this current run, the Lancers had lost three straight games capped off by a 21-16 loss against Sunnyside at home, on a night they tallied just 252 yards of offense.

“We’re a second-half team,” said Salaz, who gained 215 yards and scored three touchdowns on 25 carries. “We push harder in the second half, that’s just the team we are. We’ll change that, we’ll go hard all game next time.”

The Lancers (5-4) entered the night ranked 17th in the division and a win over No. 13 Tucson will surely move them up in position to earn an at-large bid at the minimum. Salpointe closes the season with a home game against Cienega next Friday in another must-win game in order to qualify for the postseason for the sixth straight year.

“The kids have stayed on the grind and never checked out,” Bene said. “It’s easy to lose teenagers through adversity and lose them mentally. The kids have been grinders, believing in what we’re doing so all the credit goes to the boys.”

Backup quarterback Sean Barton, a junior, proved to be the difference maker on Friday night. The 6-foot-2-inch track athlete broke loose for a 15-yard gain on his first snap of the game, early in the second quarter. Barton continued to cause headaches for the Badgers and put the game out of reach when he cut to the right side for a 9-yard touchdown run with 7:13 left in the fourth quarter, giving Salpointe a 38-14 lead.

“We decided to run the quarterback a lot this week,” said Barton, who finished with 100 yards on 11 carries. “We’ve just been working on it in practice and it worked in the game too.”

Less than a minute after Barton’s touchdown run, Sahuaro’s upset of Sunnyside was announced over the public address system at Salpointe’s Ed Doherty Stadium. It was greeted with cheers because now, if Salpointe wins and Tucson beats Sunnyside next week, the Lancers will be crowned the section champion, guaranteeing a spot in the state playoffs, which begin Nov. 6.

Senior defensive lineman Justin Holt, who is verbally committed to play for the Arizona Wildcats, came around the right side of the line to sack Jorge Flores on fourth down, giving the Lancers the ball with a 14-point lead and less than six minutes to play.

“It just worked, it was a perfect,” said Holt, who had another sack earlier in the game as well. “This is a big game for us; homecoming means a lot to these people. We wanted to put on a show for them an bring home a W because it means a lot to win here at home, at Salpointe.”

The game was tied at 10 heading into the third quarter but the Lancers needed just seven plays to drive 78 yards. Salaz, who had a 55-yard scoring run in the first half, capped off the series with a 10-yard touchdown to put the Lancers up 17-10.

But Tucson fought back and tied the game twice before Salaz broke free for an 11-yard touchdown in the first minute of the fourth quarter, putting Salpointe up for good.

“This is big, considering where we started,” Holt said. “We’ve grown so much; we’re a much better team than when we started. We’ve just grown and matured and come a lot closer; it’s just coming together at the right time.”

Unbeaten Salpointe stays atop rankings with big challenge looming

The Lancers are still the top ranked squad in Division II and one of two undefeated teams in the division. But Salpointe faces its toughest test of the season when it travels to play at Ironwood Ridge.

The Lancers cruised through the 12-team Lady Falcon Invitational at Catalina Foothills over the weekend to follow up their first-place finish at the Lion’s Den Invitational the week before. Salpointe also swept Catalina Foothills and Marana last week the week.

After traveling to I-Ridge on Tuesday, the Lancers host Sahuarita on Thursday.

AZ Junior Fall Classic: Salpointe’s Manny Villa competes in academic game plus complete schedule

Salpointe junior Manny Villa-Lizarraga took part in the Junior All-Academic baseball game last night in Peoria. The game is part of the AZ Junior Fall Classic taking place this weekend. Teams from Canada and several states are taking part in the recruiting event.

Villa went 1-3 and played second base for Team Black. Team Black defeated Team Gray 4-3.


Falcon Volleyball Invite: Salpointe pulls out another comeback to defeat Sahuaro

Salpointe just may be a team destiny.

Down 11-6 in the third and final set to archrival Sahuaro, the Lancers went on a 9-2 run to close out another win and another tournament championship over the Cougars, 23-25, 25-15 and 15-13.

Salpointe defeated Sahuaro in a one-set championship at the Lion's Den Invitational last Saturday after Sahuaro had defeated the Lancers 2-0 in bracket play. That invite was played under a double-elimination format so Salpointe was able to comeback to claim victory when it was all but in the Cougar's paw.

It looked like Sahuaro had Salpointe on the ropes again this Saturday at Catalina Foothills after taking the first set 25-23 and building that huge lead in the third set.

Cougar junior Brielle Sterns and Lancer senior Carly Lowry battled back and forth in the first set but Madi Nash came up with three aces to help turn the tide for Sahuaro.

Sterns came up with four kills and three blocks in the second set but Salpointe pulled away for the 25-15 win to tie the match up 1-1. Then came the third set.

Abi Nash came up big for Sahuaro in the early going to help build what looked like an insurmountable 11-6 lead in a set scheduled to go to 15 but Lowry had other plans.

"We really wanted it," Lowry explained. "We set goals and then we achieve them. In this particular case we told ourselves we've been here before so we knew we could do it."

Alexandria Weaver came out of a timeout and put down a block to cut the Sahuaro lead down to 11-7 and then Magarette Schepelmann served an ace and the comeback was on.

Madi Baity held Salpointe off with a kill of her own but Alanna Duarte scored and then Salpointe gained another point on a net violation. The score was now 12-10 Sahuaro.

Lowry recorded back-to back kills and Sahuaro shot long and Salpointe was suddenly up 13-12. Sterns tied it back up 13-13 but Lowry came up with her 14th kill of the match to retake the lead 14-13 and then Lowry completed the comeback with a block.

Salpointe is the top-ranked team in Division II and Sahuaro is fifth. Invitational wins and losses are not figured into rankings or standings but the Lancers defeated Sahuaro 3-1 in a division match in September.

There may not be a more evenly matched set of opponents.

"It's frustrating and rewarding at the same time," Lowry added. We know what they are going to do and they know what we are going to do."

The Lancers have yet to play No. 7 Ironwood Ridge this year but that will remedied on Tuesday when Salpointe visits the Nighthawks in what is sure to be a wild match complete with a standing room only student section.

Sahuaro will travel to Cienega on the same night.

Las Vegas Palo Verde defeated Catalina Foothills to take third place in the Gold Bracket and Boulder City, Nevada defeated Gila Ridge to win the Silver Bracket final. Empire took care of Rio Rico to take third place.


Unbeaten Salpointe remains No. 1 as volleyball rankings hold steady

1. Salpointe Catholic (1) 11-0

Salpointe, the top ranked team in Division II, stretched its regular-season winning streak to 11 matches with last week’s sweep of Sierra Vista Buena. One of two undefeated teams in the division, the Lancers continued their dominance by winning the 24-team Lion’s Den Invitational at Mountain View over the weekend. Salpointe plays a pair of away matches at Catalina Foothills (Tuesday) and Marana (Wednesday) before attending the 12-team Lady Falcon Invitational at Foothills starting Friday.

Trevor Werbylo leads Salpointe to Tournament of Champions victory

Salpointe standout Trevor Werbylo was 1-under (69) after Friday and held on for a three-stroke win (69,73 142) on Saturday at the Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Tournament of Champions held at Silverbell.

Salpointe won the team title by 10 strokes over Canyon del Oro (596-606). The Dorados edged Ironwood Ridge by one.

Top 10 Individual Results
1 Trevor Werbylo, Salpointe +2 69 73 142
2 Cooper Cordova, Mountain View +5 74 71 145
2 Andy Hunter, Ironwood Ridge +5 73 72 145
4 Trevor Gregoire, Canyon del Oro +6 71 75 146
5 Dallan Graybill, Rincon +8 78 70 148
5 Briggs Duce, Buena +8 71 77 148
7 Derek Lozier, Salpointe +9 73 76 149
7 John Fiore, Marana +9 78 71 149
7 Chandler Garcia, Canyon del Oro +9 76 73 149
10 Sam Attanasio, Ironwood Ridge +11 72 79 151

Volleyball: Salpointe wins Lions Den invite in dramatic one-set match

The Lions Den Invitational proved to be a mixture of some of the best talent Southern Arizona has to offer regardless of school size. Besides the usual "Big School" powers such as Salpointe, Sahuaro, Tucson and Cienega, Marana Mountain View was able to attract Division IV and V powers Pima, Thatcher and St. David.

While most of the excitement came from the "smaller" program, Salpointe was able to make it through the 88-match maze almost untouched to capture the championship over Sahuaro in a one-set-take-all final.

The invite was run under a double-elimination format and both Salpointe and Sahuaro made it to the final of the winner's bracket where the Lancers were able to outlast the Cougars 2-1.

The loss moved Sahuaro to the elimination bracket where the Cougars were able to get past a surging Tucson squad to set up a rematch with Salpointe.  Sahuaro won the championship match 2-0 (25-20, 25-21) but that was the first loss for the Lancers so both teams met once more for one final set to 25 where Salpointe prevailed 25-19.

Salpointe senior standout Carly Lowry has seen plenty of action in her time with the Lancers and she has a good idea of what just might set this team apart form the others, "I think the chemistry is there and we are all working for the same thing this year," she explained.

"We have surprised ourselves with how well we have done," she added. "We play together and never overlook an opponent. Our coach always tells us we haven't won till the ref crosses his arms."

Some of the teams that may have been overlooked were returning Division IV state champion Thatcher and 2013 D-V state champion St. David along with the top-ranked Pima Roughriders of D-IV.

St. David had a difficult day on Friday during pool play but the Tigers came up with wins against higher division teams Sunnyside, Cesar Chavez, Nogales and Benson on Saturday to capture the championship of the Silver Bracket.

Pima is the top-ranked tam in D-IV mainly due to the presence of legendary coach Gerald Hekekia and his style of a team approach rather than a couple of stars leading the team. Hekekia led Pima to a state championship in 1971. He went on to coach Eastern Arizona to a national title and then took Deming, New Mexico to two state championships. The National Hall of Fame and Coach of the Year legend is 75 years old.

Senior captain Jessica Taylor fits right in with Hekekia's style of play. "Our whole team is one superstar," she said.

"We are a full-returning team from last year and everyone works hard at what they are asked to do. Not one single player plays above the team. Playing as a team is what we do."

The results of the Roughrider's chemistry were plain to see during bracket play. Pima defeated Buena, Cienega and Catalina Foothills before losing to Tucson and finishing in fourth place.

Thatcher also made some noise on Saturday with big wins over Tucson and Cienega before losing to Sahuaro and then Tucson in a rematch in the elimination bracket. Thatcher senior middle Ashtyn Lunt was named MVP of the invitational.

The Eagles lost five seniors from their championship team from a year ago but Lunt feels that is also a blessing for the current squad.

"We are learning to play together and better as a team," Lunt said. "We lost five starters but playing in tournaments like this will help us prepare for state again."

Salpointe is the top-ranked team in D-II and the Lancers are officially unbeaten in games that count towards seeding but No. 4 Sahuaro has had the greatest success against them. Both teams are slated to take part in the Catalina Foothills Falcon Invitational this week.

Salpointe's Deng has look of future star

When he was 12, Tucson Roadrunners basketball player Majok Deng received a thunderous ovation at McKale Center. He dunked over an opposing junior-league player during halftime of the December 2013 UA-UNLV game.

Since then, Deng has grown to 6 feet 4 inches, enrolled at Salpointe Catholic for his freshman year, and last week was offered a scholarship by the University of San Francisco. It’s likely that the University of Portland will be the second to offer Deng this week.

Other than former CDO softball All-American pitcher Kenzie Fowler, I can’t recall a Tucson athlete being offered a Division I scholarship as a 14-year-old.

Deng plays for coach David Thomas’ Arizona Power club team in the offseason (Thomas is also the boys basketball coach at Pusch Ridge High School). In a video from a showcase event at Arizona Christian University recently, highlights of Deng were posted to YouTube. Watch it. He runs the court, handles the ball well, and is a high-flying dunk machine.

At Salpointe, Deng will play for a team that returns four key players: Ethan Parkhurst, Eddie Krasinski, Cameron Miller and Isaac Cruz. Coach Brian Holstrom’s squad has the look of a state title contender.

Salpointe Catholic Welcomes a New COO/CFO

Salpointe Catholic Welcomes a New COO/CFO

Ernie DuarteTucson, Ariz., September 29, 2015— Salpointe Catholic High School is pleased to welcome Mr. Ernie Duarte as the school’s new Chief Operations Officer/Chief Financial Officer.

In addition to overseeing the operations of the entire campus, Duarte is responsible for the management of operational and fiscal budgets for the school. Duarte joins Salpointe after working 31 years for the City of Tucson. For the past 15 years he served as Director of the City’s Development Services department.

"Salpointe is blessed to have Ernie Duarte accept the position of Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer. Ernie is a passionate, inspirational leader who exemplifies the values that are the essence of Salpointe: respect and responsibility, accountability and honesty, integrity and good citizenship, prayer, faith and service to others. Salpointe will be a better place because of Ernie," said president Kay Sullivan.

Duarte has as a Bachelor of Arts in Management from the University of Phoenix.  He also serves on Bishop Kicanas' Diocesan Building Committee and Saints Peter and Paul Parish Finance Council. 

 "I am the proud parent of four Salpointe children and I remain impressed with the Salpointe experience and the educational, spiritual and social development that Salpointe provides our youth.  I am excited to be a contributor to the Salpointe mission,” said Duarte.

About Salpointe Catholic High School:
Since opening its doors in 1950, Salpointe Catholic has enjoyed a distinguished reputation for its strong curriculum, competitive athletics, highly-acclaimed fine arts, faith-strengthening religious program and spirited co-curricular activities. Salpointe’s holistic, college-preparatory curriculum offers a premier STEM program, award-winning fine and performing arts, Humanities, theology, competitive athletics and wide-ranging co-curricular activities. Founded in 1950, Salpointe is a Catholic, Carmelite, college-preparatory high school enrolling 1,100 students. Salpointe is accredited by the Western Catholic Educational Association and accredited as a college-preparatory school by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. 
                                                                        # # #


Girls volleyball: Lowry leads unbeaten Lancers past Cienega

Senior outside hitter Carly Lowry had 29 kills to lead the way as Salpointe Catholic beat Cienega 3-1 (18-25, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20) at home on Thursday night.

The Bobcats started strong, capitalizing on the Lancers lack of accuracy early to take the first set 25-18, in a matchup of to Division II state tournament teams from a year ago. Salpointe was the No. 5 seed and reached the second round while Cienega was seeded eighth and lost its postseason opener in 2014.

“We came out super excited and super energetic and kind of just got the jitters a little bit,” said Lowry, who also had 24 digs. “I think it was actually good for us. It taught us to stay together as a family. We can’t do anything without each other.”

It was just the second dropped set for the unbeaten Lancers (6-0) this season, and the first opening-set loss of the season.

“They always bring physicality to the court,” Salpointe coach Heather Moore-Martin said. “So when we started out strong and then they played some really scrappy defense and had some really long rallies and some real athleticism at the net, we got nervous and didn’t know how to handle it. But I thought we did a great job figuring out how to win.”

Showing its resolve, Salpointe stormed out to a 6-1 lead in the second set and eventually tied the match at 1-1.

The Bobcats (2-3) lost starting setter in sophomore Natalie Lubben to an apparent ankle injury but were still in business, trailing the Lancers by just a point at 14-13 in the third set.

Salpointe junior outside hitter Maggie Schepelmann finished with 13 kills, while senior middle Allie Weaver recorded six and had a team-high two blocks. Sophomore setter Peyton Lewis finished with 51 assists for the Lancers.

For Cienega it was junior outside hitter Imani Litz leading the Bobcats in scoring with 10 kills. Seniors attackers Kaitlynn Maxon and Jorden Norin each tallied seven.

“I saw some growth tonight,” Cienega coach Heater Mott said. “We’ve lost a couple big games, really, really tight. But we are going to define ourselves on the intangibles, this is a really great group of kids.

"I’ll take them every single day of the week.”

Werbylo, Cohen aiming for individual, team titles

Trevor Werbylo and Gavin Cohen have almost the same build, like some of the same golfers, use some of the same clubs and attack the course with the same goal.

About the only difference are the schools they represent.

Werbylo, a Salpointe Catholic junior, was the boys Division II state runner-up in 2014, coming in six strokes behind Canyon del Oro’s Chris Meyers, who is now at Stanford. Meanwhile, Cohen, a junior from Catalina Foothills, tied for third place, 11 strokes off the lead.

Werbylo and Cohen aren’t just in a position to win an individual title — both have a shot at leading their team to a championship, as well.

The two standouts faced off last week for the first time this season, and it did not disappoint. Werbylo shot a 3-under 33, finishing two strokes ahead of Cohen as the host Lancers edged Foothills by three shots, 142-145, at Randolph Golf Course, the site of the boys Division II state championship in November.

The Star caught up with the pair after the showdown, and here’s what they had to say:

Trevor Werbylo

School: Salpointe Catholic

Vitals: Junior, 6 feet 1 inch, 150 pounds

2014 flashback: Werbylo was just one stoke from the lead at the state championship last fall after shooting a 3-under 69 on the first day. His second round didn’t go as well, though, leaving him at 2-under 142 through 36 holes. “I gained a lot of confidence after that. I knew that, if I played well, I could compete with anybody in the state.”

Summer recap: Werbylo kicked off his summer by playing in his first AJGA event, the Ping Phoenix Junior at ASU Karsten Golf Course in Tempe. He held a two-stroke lead after the first round finished in a three-way tie for fifth place. He also took third at both the JGAA State Junior Golf Championship and The Optimist International Junior Golf Championships.

College outlook: Still undecided. Werbylo said he’s spoken to Arizona and has sent a few emails to a handful of other schools. “I’ve been a UA fan my whole life, so it’d be cool to go there.”

Strength on the course: “Ball striking, probably; my iron game. I feel like, when I’m hitting my irons well, I can get in a pretty good rhythm.”

Struggle on the course: “My putter can be my friend and it can not be my friend. I have worked on it a lot in the last couple of years, and it’s gotten better. It’s kind of a love-hate relationship with my putter.”

Favorite golfer: Tiger Woods, to an extent. Werbylo has also gained an interest in younger players such as Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. “It’s pretty inspiring to see how good they are at such a young age. They’re not that much older than we are.”

Favorite course: Forest Highlands in Flagstaff. “I always love forest courses that have pine trees everywhere because it’s just so different than Tucson.”

Favorite club: Driver or pitching wedge.

Best class: “I like learning about history, but I’m good at math.”

Best other sport: Basketball. “I never took it too seriously — I played it for school and stuff — but outside of that, I never really practiced. I feel like I should have, because I like it a lot.”

Coachspeak: “He is so poised. If he has a bad shot, he doesn’t dwell on it. He just goes to the next shot and the next hole.

“His temperament is unbelievable.” — Salpointe coach Jim Flannery


CROSS COUNTRY: Ana Alvarez leads Salpointe to early victory

Girl's Cross Country (Arthur Pack 5K Course) Salpointe 25, Canyon del Oro 58, Mountain View 79, Vista Grande 84, Pusch Ridge 133, Sabino 153

Tucson Salpointe Catholic sophomore Ana Alvarez was the sixth-best runner for the Lancers last year, her first year ever running cross country, but that has all changed. Alvarez ran a 19:05.00 to help lead her team to an early victory Wednesday at the Arthur Pack course in Marana.

This was the first time she has officially posted a time below 20 minutes in a 5K event. Her previous best time was 20:35.9 she earned last November during sectionals. In fact, her time during this meet may be one of the best ever posted by a Salpointe runner.

Her sophomore teammate Jacque Dinauer came in one second behind at 19:06.00 making her time also impressive. Casa Grande Vista Grande standout Rihanna Teggant came in third with a time of 20:33.00.

"This is incredible. I'm still trying to process this," Alvarez said. "I proved to myself I can accomplish more than I thought.  I didn't even know I won when I crossed the line. I'm also happy for my team!"

The top runner for Marana Mountain View was Delany Vaughn (6th, 22:25.00). The top finisher for Oro Valley Canyon del Oro was Katherine Bruno (7th, 23:03). The best for Oro Valley Pusch Ridge was Hope Powers (12th, 23:39). The top runner for Tucson Sabino was Jenna Chabot (17th, 24:36.70).


Werbylo leads Lancers boys golf to 3-0 start

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The two best prep golfers in Southern Arizona squared off Wednesday afternoon at a tri-meet at Randolph North Golf Course.

Salpointe Catholic’s Trevor Werbylo and Catalina Foothills’ Gavin Cohen finished 2nd and 3rd last year in the Division II state tournament. Werbylo got the best of Cohen again as he shot a three-under par 33 to win the event. Cohen finished at one-under with a 35.

The Lancers (3-0) won the tri-meet by three shots over the Falcons. Cienega finished a distant third.

Werbylo had an excellent spring season on the Junior Golf Association of Arizona circuit. The junior came away with five top-five finishes including a win at the Tucson Conquistadores Spring Classic.

He currently ranks 11th in the state on the junior golf circuit while Cohen comes in at 13th.

The Falcons’ junior carded four JGAA top-five finishes of his own this year, including a pair of second places.

Salpointe star, Arizona recruit Holt off to impressive start

Justin Holt’s start to the 2015 season is as big as he is at 6’1″ and 295 pounds.

The Salpointe Catholic defensive tackle, who has committed to the Arizona Wildcats, has tallied 16 tackles with 1 1/2 sacks, three quarterback pressures and one assist on a caused fumble in the Lancers’ first two games of the season.

Holt had a game-changing stop on 4th-and-1 in Salpointe’s 35-26 win at Sahuarita last night. His strength showed as he was double- and triple-teamed most of the game.

Salpointe is 1-1 heading into its game Friday against Anthem Boulder Creek.

Holt is the only Tucson-area player listed on the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Arizona preseason high school football team that was released last week.


High school golf: Werbylo leads Lancers to season-opening victory

Trevor Werbylo picked off right where he left off last fall on Monday afternoon.

The Salpointe Catholic junior shot a 3-under 32 while two teammates – Eric Duarte and Cole Harris – also finished below par, helping the Lancers beat host Rincon/University by 14 strokes at Dell Urich to open the season.

Werbylo was the Division II state runner-up as a sophomore, coming in six strokes behind Canyon del Oro's Chris Meyers, who is now golfing at Stanford. Catalina Foothills' Gavin Cohen, now a junior, finished third, five strokes behind Werbylo.

Monday's dual between Salpointe and Rincon was just a portion of the season-opening action going on around Southern Arizona on Monday.

Several local girls teams kick off their seasons Tuesday afternoon, as long as the weather cooperates.

Veteran linebacker Ksiazek a big piece for Lancers

Over the last 22 days, the Star has featured Southern Arizona’s top preseason players, in no particular order. Our list concludes today with Jake Ksiazek, the anchor of Salpointe Catholic’s defense.


The rundown: Salpointe Catholic, senior, TE/MLB, 6-3, 235

Who he is: The ideal Salpointe football player, according to coach Dennis Bene. “He’s big, he’s physical, he’s talented, and more importantly, he’s coachable, he’s disciplined and has a great work ethic,” Bene said. Ksiazek is a veteran player for the Lancers, who saw significant action his sophomore year, when Salpointe went 14-0 and won the Division II state championship. Now Ksiazek, a team captain and two-way starter, is hoping to make another run for a title after last season came to a disappointing end, with him suffering a broken left foot just a few weeks before the Lancers made a first-round exit from the state playoffs. Ksiazek brings a dazzling combination of speed and size; he played as an outside linebacker last year but is looking forward to filling the hole left in the middle by Taylor Powell, who is now at NAU. “I’m excited to go sideline to sideline,” Ksiazek said. “Every play, I have a chance to get in on.” Ksiazek has added 10 to 15 pounds of muscle since last year and has a wide range of abilities on both sides of the ball: He can block well, had solid hands and in tough to bring down. Stanford linebacker Blake Martinez, a former Canyon del Oro star, visited Salpointe’s practice over the summer and was standing next to Ksiazek at one point. Bene noticed a similarity. “They’re pretty much the same size, they’re big guys,” he said. “You don’t see many linebackers that big, especially in Southern Arizona.”

Proof he’s good: Ksiazek already has several schools interested in him but Bene believes he can add another five or six scholarship offers by the time his senior season comes to an end. Air Force, Army, Nave, Holy Cross, South Dakota State, UC-Davis and UNLV are the ones who have offered Ksiazek, but Colorado, Colorado State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Wyoming are the ones who have him their radar. What makes Ksiazek a quality recruit, according to Bene, is his upside. “His best football is in front of him,” Bene said. “After he’s in a college system for a couple of years, he’s going to play at another level.”

Season goal: Break the program’s single-season tackle mark of 172 and finish his high school career on a high note. “This senior class, there’s only a few of us that won a state championship and I think that’s just make us hungrier for it,” Ksiazek said. “Having that feeling before, we want to lead our team back to that.”

He said it: “Our defense will probably go as Jake goes. He anchors the center of our defense at the linebacker spot and if he can be productive, make a lot of tackles and work off the opportunities that the D-line gives him, then we have a chance. That’s our only chance to be there at the end, if we play really good defense.” – Bene

Expectations remain high for Salpointe Lancers

"It's my senior year, I have all my friends around me, my teammates, we're all brothers and ready to get after it this season," said Salpointe defensive tackle Justin Holt.

We already introduced you to the UofA-bound Holt, the near 300-pound monster on the d-line. But the size for Salpointe goes well beyond him.

"We have a pretty big front, everyone is at least 6-foot-2," said Holt. "I think we go 6'2", 6'3" and 6'4" so it goes like that. We also have a big linebacking corps too so we should be able to hit people."

"If you're a linebacker playing behind Justin, Dylan or Andrew, those guys will absorb double teams to free you up," said Lancers head coach Dennis Bene. "In our scheme we hope our linebackers are productive and they should be productive."

Productive and hopefully ball-hawking. The Salpointe staff wants more turnovers from the defense and much less from the offense.

"I thought last year turnovers really hurt us," said Bene. "I think we were minus 20 in turnovers. The year before when we won the state championship we were plus 27 so a tremendous in turnovers. We have to protect the football and do the little things that come with championship-level football."

"We just want to do the best we can on the field and I think we're doing that right now in practice," added Holt. "I think that will show with Campo Verde first."
That Friday night date is quickly approaching, but not quick enough according to Holt.

"I've been waiting," he said eagerly. "The last game I played for Salpointe was a loss and I think the entire rest of the team is hungry and ready to get back after it because it's not a good taste you want in your mouth."

Salpointe's Holt excited for season, future at UofA

Over the past handful of years, local athletes have made the leap to the UofA - think Carey, Tevis, Denson and Flannigan-Fowles. Justin Holt will soon follow in those very footsteps.

"I'm excited because it's my hometown and I grew up watching them," said Holt of the Arizona Wildcats. "I can't wait for that. And I'll be playing with my old Salpointe teammate Cam Denson on the same side of the ball so it should be fun."

That's still a year away. Holt enters the 2015 season fresh off a summer tour against some of the western United States' best.

"I went to the opening regionals in L.A. and I basically got a feel for the west coast competition and what I'm going to see in the Pac-12," said Holt.

He will also meet some of the nation's best as a participant in the distinguished Blue Grey All-American Game in Dallas come December.

"It's cool because I'll get to showcase what I do and have a little bit of fun with some of the guys on the west coast," he said.

"Yeah, it's very prestigious and we're obviously very proud of Justin and his accomplishments," said Lancers head coach Dennis Bene. "Our expectations are very high for Justin and he should have a big year as a dominant player. Anything short of that will be disappointing. He's a tremendous talent and he needs to anchor our defensive line."

Holt is excited for the future - the all-star games and his Wildcat career - but priority one is ending his time with the Lancers as a winner.

"Just work hard and stay humble," Holt said. "Just know that I trust these guys and I know that they're going to help me do the best and I'm going to help them do the best that I can for the team."

Gridiron Guide: Video tour of Salpointe Catholic's football stadium

Gridiron Guide: Salpointe has 'first-class facility'

School: Salpointe Catholic

Name: Ed Doherty Stadium

Address: 1545 E. Copper St.

Opened: 1958. Before that, the facility existed as a field only. Salpointe in 1991 named the stadium after Doherty, who coached at the Lancers to their first state title game 10 years earlier.

The lowdown: Doherty Stadium is one of Tucson’s most storied venues, in part because of the players and coaches who have called it home. Lancers stars John Fina and Frank Garcia went on to play in the NFL, while Kris O’Dowd (USC) and John Kadous (Notre Dame) were both U.S. Army All-Americans. Doherty was the first in a line of successful coaches that continued to Pat Welchert and Dennis Bene. Both men coached Salpointe to the state finals, and Bene — a Salpointe alum — led the Lancers to their first state championship in 2013. The 57-year old stadium has seen its fair share of change: In the last 15 years, Salpointe has installed a new scoreboard, lights, goal posts, visitor’s-side bleachers and an artificial turf field. Bene said the stadium’s allure and ambiance is the same today as it was when he played there three decades ago.

Don’t miss: Salpointe’s is one of the few high school football stadiums in Arizona that doesn’t include a track, meaning spectators are right on top of the action. Want to get even closer? Savvy fans and students watch from a fence that sits just behind of the end zone.

Biggest game: One of Bene’s most memorable wins at home came in the first round of the 2005 Class 5A-I state playoffs, when the Lancers topped Catholic rival Phoenix St. Mary’s to win the coveted Ed Doherty Trophy for the first time since 1998. Junior quarterback Max Fritz scored on a short touchdown run the final minute to secure the win. “It was more than a playoff game,” Bene said. “It was years and years of history.”

Performance for the ages: Senior quarterback Tyler Graunke cemented his place in Tucson history and took down Phoenix Brophy in the same night in 2003. Graunke threw for 251 yards and four touchdowns as Salpointe beat the visiting Broncos 42-14 in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs. Graunke broke Tucson single-season passing yardage and touchdowns records that night, and finished the season with 3,372 yards and 37 scores. Both remain the top marks in Tucson history.

Quotable: “We have a first-class facility and we have the success that goes with it, so we’ve been proud of it.” – Bene

Salpointe Catholic Continues Upward Enrollment Trend with the Class of 2019

This week Salpointe Catholic High School welcomed 307 freshmen, continuing an upward trend in enrollment over the last several years.Students in the freshman class come from 70 public, private and charter schools across Pima County and join Salpointe at an exciting time in the school’s 65-year history.

Salpointe recently opened the collegiate-level 25,000 square foot Sayre Stevens Student Center and a state-of-the-art 10,000 square foot Cracchiolo Family Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) facility. In addition, Salpointe is now a “Google School,” meaning that students, faculty and staff leverage technology for enhanced communication, collaboration, problem solving and critical thinking. All students and faculty are using Chromebooks in and out of the classroom, allowing access to a uniform device and shared network to create collaborative opportunities like never before in the school’s history. Click here to read the full press release.

Arizona line commit Holt lifts Salpointe's hopes

The rundown: Salpointe Catholic, senior, OL/DL, 6-2, 305

Who he is: An Arizona Wildcats commit and the son of former UA lineman Julius Holt. The three-year starter is fired up heading into his fourth and final season with the Lancers and is poised to make an even bigger impact with a move from the inside to defensive end. Additionally, Salpointe coach Dennis Bene said Holt will see time at center and will be a huge factor in bulking up the offensive line with returning tackles Andrew Palomares and Dylan Eikmeyer.

Holt said he has grown about an inch since last season and has gotten stronger; he recently squatted 500 pounds and can bench 300 pounds five times. Holt has also gotten faster and was clocked at a 5.62-second 40-yard dash.

He is among the best players in the Southwest and is among the top defensive linemen in Arizona: He was named to the U.S. Army All-American Combine all-star team earlier this year and attended The Opening Regionals in Los Angeles in March.

Proof he’s good: Size and skill. Holt should benefit from his large frame and strength with the move to the outside, but Bene still said he could move back to nose guard or tackle at times, depending on the opponent. Being at defensive end, however, will allow for Holt to have more one-on-one matchups and could keep him from getting double- or triple-teamed in the middle. “I like to play in space and playing at D-end gives me a lot more room to do moves, get my hands right and be quick off the ball,” Holt said.

Season goal: Win a state title. Holt isn’t worried about how many tackles and sacks he gets, saying his main focus is to help the Lancers get their second state championship in three seasons. “That’s at the top of my list above everything else,” Holt said. He is also looking forward to Salpointe’s fourth game of the season, at Ironwood Ridge, and hopes to get a shot at Mountain View in the postseason. Both teams beat the Lancers at home last year.

He said it: “I don’t know if we’ve had a D-lineman as big and as strong as Justin; he’s really a tremendous combination of size and strength. … The expectations are very high for Justin and he should be a really dominant player. I think anything short of that would be disappointing, not only from my perspective, but most definitely from Justin.” – Bene

Salpointe lineman Eickmeyer 'fired up' to play for Montana

Salpointe Catholic senior Dylan Eickmeyer took to Twitter on Wednesday morning to announce his commitment to play football for the University of Montana next season.

“Fired up and and blessed to say that I’ve committed to play football at the University of Montana. #GoGriz,” Eickmeyer posted just before 11 a.m.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 275-pound offensive lineman recently attended a camp in Missoula, Montana, where he came away with his first Division I offer.

“I absolutely fell in love,” said Eickmeyer. “It was a welcoming community, the staff was amazing and the campus was awesome.”

Eickmeyer first visited the Grizzles back in March for junior day. He started getting interest from Montana toward the end of last season.

The second-year starter had also garnered interest from South Dakota State and had offers from Division II programs Adam State and the University of Mary.

“He has tremendous upside,” Salpointe coach Dennis Bene said. “Offensive line is still new to him, but he works hard at his craft. Several coaches came out to see him this spring and really liked him.”

The Grizzlies are getting a fundamentally sound finisher, Bene said, with all the intangibles and athleticism to be successful at the next level.

“He has a great attitude and a strong work ethic,” Bene said.

“He’s coachable, he’s tough, he’s smart. He understands the offense and has a broad skill set which allows us flexibility.”

Valued for his versatility, Eickmeyer saw time as a blocking tight end on the Lancers 2013 state championship team as a sophomore.

After a successful first season starting on the offensive line last year as a tackle, Eickmeyer may see time at center for Salpointe this season.

Eickmeyer joins Arizona-bound Lancers defensive lineman Justin Holt as the only other Southern Arizona player in the 2016 class headed to programs to date.

The two can sign in February along with what Bene expects to be at least three other notable recruits.

“We’re both just happy to get it off our shoulders and focus on the season and trying to win a state championship,” Eickmeyer said.

Salpointe's Bene teaching, coaching the future of football

Salpointe Catholic football coach Dennis Bene is a Master Trainer for USA Football Heads Up Football. Bene held a coaching clinic over the weekend to instruct coaches across the state on the proper methods and techniques in order to keep player safety as their main priority.

Salpointe student nominated to attend medical leaders program

A Salpointe senior has been nominated to attend an honors program for high school students who want to become leaders in the medical field.

Kenia Salas will participate in the Congress of Future Medical Leaders program in Boston Wednesday through Friday .

The event is designed to honor, inspire, motivate and direct the top students in the country who aspire to be physicians or medical scientists to pursue their dream and provide a path, plan and resources to help them reach their goal.

Students will learn about leading medical research, receive advice from Ivy League and top medical school deans on what to expect in medical school, hear from patients who are “living medical miracles,” and learn about cutting-edge advances and the future in medicine and medical technology.

Salpointe's Harris wins JGAA event

Chandler's Thomas Avant and Tucson's Haylin Harris notched victories in the Boys and Girls Divisions respectively at the Willie Low Invitational presented by MJ Insurance, the third JGAA Junior Masters Series tournament, played June 8-9 at Phoenix Country Club.

Harris edged out Megan Ohland by a stroke, finishing with a five-over-par 147 for the tournament. The Salpointe Catholic sophomore-to-be started out strong on the front nine each day at one-under par in the first round and two-under par in the second.

Avant fired a four-under-par 138 for the 36-hole tournament posting 71-67 to win by three strokes over Phoenix's George Markham. He adds the win to a third-place finish in March at the Thunderbird Invitational and a T9 performance in May at the second Junior Masters Series event – the Charlie Beljan Invitational.

“Congratulations to Thomas and Haylin for their wins in this Junior Master Series tournament,” said Scott McNevin, Executive Director of the JGAA. “Willie Low was one of Arizona's most impactful advocates of junior golf. It is our honor to memorialize his efforts through this event, and Thomas and Haylin are the latest beneficiaries of his vision and dedication. A profound thank you goes to him and generous support from MJ Insurance.”

The event honors the late Willie Low, one of the Valley's top golf professionals for nearly a half century who started the tournament in 1969. It has been showcasing the talents of junior golfers from across the state since then with past winners including PGA TOUR golfers Billy Mayfair (1983 and '84), Ted Purdy (1989), Charlie Beljan (2000) and LPGA player, Sara Brown (2004).

Low influenced many of the Valley's top juniors, including Howard Twitty and a young George Boutell who would later go on to win the 1962 Arizona Amateur Championship and then post a stellar career at Arizona State University, earning All American status.

The JGAA's Junior Masters Series consists of five regular tournaments and one Series Championship at some of the most prestigious courses in Arizona. Dates and venues for the balance of the schedule will be released soon. As with professional golfers Bryce Molder, Charlie Beljan and Willie Low, the JGAA will call on local PGA or LPGA players (past and present) to help launch each Junior Masters Series tournament.

“Our goal is to provide a competitive place for aspiring players to play,” said George Getz, Chairman of the Board of the JGAA. “This tournament series will allow kids to earn national-level points and will serve as a launching pad into nationally chartered events.”

Girls tennis: Salpointe Catholic's Caroline Amos is player of the year

Caroline Amos, Salpointe Catholic 

What she did: Amos bulldozed her way to a perfect season and her first-ever singles state championship. The star senior earned the No. 1 seed in the state tournament and took down the No. 8, 4 and 2 seeds on her way to the crown. Amos also helped Salpointe reach the second round of the Division II team tournament where she took down Ironwood Ridge’s Kelsey Brown 6-0, 6-1, for the lone win in the season-ending 5-1 loss.

Top performance: After cruising to a relatively easy win in the first set of the championship match, Amos had to fight off Phoenix Arcadia’s Sabrina Barkdull for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 win at Paseo Raqcuet Center in temperatures nearing 100 degrees. Amos said winning the title was a big accomplishment but admitted that the high stakes made it one of the most nerve-racking matches she’s ever played.

What’s next: Amos is headed to Yale to continue her tennis career but she is still undecided on what she wants to study.


Southern Arizona standouts Medina, Sands taken in MLB draft

Former Sahuaro baseball player and Arizona Wildcats signee Javier Medina didn't have to wait long Tuesday morning to hear his name called in the MLB draft.

The right-handed pitcher was taken by the Colorado Rockies with the No. 77 pick overall and the just the second pick of the day. He was the first Southern Arizona high school player picked and second statewide behind Buckeye Verrado's Blake Perkins.

Roughly four hours later, Salpointe Catholic's Donny Sands had his name called by the New York Yankees in the eighth round. Sands, who played his first two seasons at Empire, was a shortstop and pitcher for the Lancers but was drafted at a third baseman by the Yankees.

Sands batted .450 this spring with 36 RBIs and 15 extra-base hits. He tallied six saves and had a 2.40 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 23.1 innings pitched.

Sands hopes to get drafted, honor parents

Donny Sands has imagined playing professional baseball all his life.

At age 2, he remembers swinging a bat and throwing a ball. A couple of years later, his father, Roger, started taking him to major-league parks.

It was a close-up look at those he idolized and a conversation with his dad that helped spark an imagination and tunnel-vision focus toward a lifelong passion with baseball.

“You know, when you’re little, it’s your dream to play professional baseball,” Sands said. “But he started taking me to the big league parks and telling me, ‘It’s possible,’ and to just watch these guys and remember, ‘They were little just like you were, too.’”

Since then, Sands has held on tight to that dream.

The 6-foot-2-inch Salpointe Catholic shortstop isn’t one of those superstitious baseball players; he’s never named one of his gloves.

But on Monday night, possibly just hours before one of 30 professional teams would select him in the MLB first-year player draft, Sands stuck with his own little ritual.

He went into the garage with his mother, Alma, who pitched him tiny, individual pinto beans for about five minutes.

The way it works is, if he hits each one without missing any, the session ends. If he misses one, they restart the clock. The two have been doing it since the summer before his freshman year.

“It all started it Mexico,” Sands said. “My mother is from Mexico, and we didn’t have a lot of money. Every night I still hit them — my mom is pretty on me with that.”

Then before bed, less than two weeks away from Father’s Day, Sands thanked the man who lit his competitive fire. As he has for years, he prayed to his father, who died in 2012.

“It allows me to relax and to be confident in all the work we put in,” Sands said.

Sands has received feedback from the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays.

He most recently returned from a workout in Tampa, Florida, with the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field.

Scouts noticed Sands’ bat after he drove in 103 runs in two years at Empire.

Then they saw him flash the leather and close at Salpointe. But he left the Yankees’ workout with scouts raving about his mental approach to the game, his competitive streak and his relentless work ethic.

Wonder where he gets it from?

For Sands, the trek through personal hell to professional baseball has been a family journey. There have been plenty of days he’s wanted to take a day off from the weightlifting, skip taking ground balls or not take some hacks in the cage.

Sands, who was the batboy for the New Mexico Lobos when now-Ironwood Ridge softball coach Rich Alday was their coach, proclaims his mother to be the motivation for continuing.

“It hasn’t been easy, just me and my mom since my dad passed away,” Sands said. “Maybe if I’m tired today and haven’t worked as hard as I should, she comes into the back of my head, that I have to work harder for her, to support her.”

Sands has been told to be waiting by his phone for rounds 6 through 15, and believes the Yankees are the most likely to take him.

The chance to dress, field and play at the House that Jeter Built, “would be a dream come true,” he said. The former, longtime Yankees captain is his favorite player.

Whenever he does get that call, Sands won’t hesitate in delivering the news to his mother.

“She’s the first person that deserves to know.”

Quihuis named league freshman of the year

UA’s Krystal Quihuis was named the Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Year in women’s golf, the league announced Wednesday.

Earlier this week, the Salpointe Catholic High School graduate was an honorable mention Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American.

Quihuis is Arizona’s third Pac-12 freshman/newcomer of the year. Erica Blasberg (2003) and Lorena Ochoa (2001) also won the award.


Robots, Work Experience Boost Catholic School Enrollment

Catholic schools in Southern Arizona are reversing a years-long drop in enrollment and bucking a national trend of fewer students going to church-affiliated schools.

“Two years ago we leveled off and then last year we had an increase in both elementary and high school,” said Sheri Dahl, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Tucson.

The network counts about 6,600 students, which includes those at schools in Tucson, Yuma, Sierra Vista and other parts of southern Arizona. Students take religious classes, such as theology, but there is also an increased focus on helping students become workforce ready.

Two Tucson Catholic high schools, Salpointe and San Miguel counted larger student bodies this year than the previous year. In Salpointe’s case, a robust freshmen class stemmed a seven-year decline.

Schools say one reason for the growing population is Arizona’s tax credit and educational empowerment scholarship programs, which allow public dollars to be used for a private education.

Another? Curriculum and classes that put students in law firms and banks as employees or at the helm of drones and built-from-scratch robotics.

“We need students who can problem solve, who can communicate, who can collaborate and who can think critically,” said Salpointe President Kay Sullivan.

At San Miguel High School the message is similar.

“Our students need to be employable,” said Director of Admissions Francisco Moreno.

Robots, drones and 3-D printing in the classroom

Salpointe Freshman Quentin Romanoski’s schedule includes typical core classes– English, theology and math. He also spends part of the day learning to build and program robots.

“You go from soldering motherboards, which are electrical to building machines and using machines,” Romanoski said.

He puts a green four-wheeled robot through its paces, picking up cardboard boxes and weaving S-shaped patterns in a practice arena.

The robot ring is one feature of Salpointe’s 8,000-square-foot Science Technology Engineering and Math center, opened in January.

The space that was once the school’s library is now home to a 3-D printer, laser engraver, and numerous other high-tech tools. The center was funded by donors to the school and part of a $12 million improvement project that also included a student center.

“We visited corporate leaders, groups in town, political leaders, economic leaders– basically what they said is we need an educated workforce,” Sullivan said. “The weakness we had was in our science, technology, engineering and math facilities.”

Teachers said the center will allow them to add new classes such as intermediate robotics, biotechnology and environmental engineering.

“This is offering students an opportunity to actually touch what engineers do, to think like an engineer, to problem solve like an engineer,” said Jason Hastings, a teacher and department chair for career and technical education.

Julia Wilkinson said taking classes in the STEM center has sharpened her focus to become an engineer.

“In this class we get to do what we want, we have our own creativity,” Wilkinson said as she watched the laser engraver etch designs into a wooden hall pass. “It think it takes a lot more brainpower to be in this class.”

Lancers fall short of title, still feel accomplished

Salpointe Catholic softball coach Amy Baray-Rocha stood in the third-base coaching box and watched her team get down to its final out, trailing Cienega by seven runs in the top of the seventh inning.

The two-run rally was short-lived, and it dawned on Baray-Rocha that there’d be no state championship, no comeback, no possibility of the 17 Lancers reliving the same euphoric high and pride she felt in 1993 and 1996 with the school.

“I’m just so proud of my girls for being fighters to the very end,” Baray-Rocha said. “That’s going to help them in life. I’m very grateful these young ladies have embraced the culture that I want to bring to the softball program.”

The Lancers (29-8) didn’t get the result they were looking for in their first state finals appearance since 1999, as Cienega jumped out to an early lead and never looked back on its way to a 9-2 win.

But for senior captains Annie Scarangella, Allison Curtis and Delfina Morales — all four-year players with the program — the entire season had been more than they could have ever expected.

Their careers are done. Curtis is off to play at Central Michigan. Morales will pack her bags for Trinity, and Scarangella is headed for Brown University of the Ivy League. Prior to this season, Scarangella, Curtis and Morales had been coached by three others before teaming up with Baray-Rocha to help restore purpose to the program. Despite the differing skill sets, they’ll leave with lessons Baray-Rocha taught them over the course of 37 games.

“This season means the world to me,” Curtis said. “I’ll take with me to college my the ability to fight for a spot, how coach taught us to continue to keep fighting.”

Scarangella added, “She taught us how to embrace a coach. I’m going to go on and play my hardest for my next coach, just like I did for coach Amy.”

Moments after the loss, Morales said “losing never feels great, but losing with your sisters is better than losing not together. We learned how to win as a unit, how to be a real team and how to be a family. I’ll keep that in mind in the future.”

Scarangella, who knocked home Salpointe’s first run in the seventh inning, knows her team will make the 100-plus mile trek back to Tucson with something her teammates can’t hold up or showcase behind a glass trophy case: a sense of accomplishment.

“Our goal from Day 1 was to reach the state championship,” Scarangella said. “Although we didn’t win, we got here.”

With players like up-and-coming juniors Brianna Aguilar and Megan Flores, along with the freshman duo of Yannira Acuna and Erika Marquez returning, Baray-Rocha knows they can make deep postseason run next year.

Salpointe Catholic High School Congratulates the Class of 2015

Salpointe Catholic High School Graduates 245 Students for Class of 2015
An Impressive $13.2M Earned in Merit Scholarships

Class of 2015Tucson, Ariz., May 18, 2015 — Salpointe Catholic High School is proud to announce that the 245 members of the Class of 2015 have been admitted to 175 colleges, universities and military academies around the world. Among the impressive list, Salpointe graduates were accepted at Cornell University, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, Marquette University, New York University, Purdue University, The Culinary Institute of America, and Yale University just to name a few.

“We are proud to announce that the Class of 2015 earned more than $13.2 million in merit scholarships,” says Principal Sr. Helen Timothy, IBVM. “These graduates join a legacy of leadership cherished by Salpointe’s 16,000+ alumni.”

Salpointe’s Baccalaureate Mass was held May 16 at St. Augustine Cathedral followed by a commencement ceremony at the Tucson Convention Center. Graduation speakers were Matthew Gerlach, attending Gonzaga University, and Juan Rascón Borgia, attending Santa Clara University. In addition, the following awards were presented to the Class of 2015:

  • Carmelite Medal Awards – Riley Campbell attending the University of Arizona, Honors College and Gabriella Ramirez attending Regis University
  • John Hughes Spirit Award – Molly Lang attending University of Mississippi
  • Outstanding Male Athlete – Nathaniel Thomas attending the United States Air Force Academy
  • Outstanding Female Athlete – Bryanna Sanchez attending Metropolitan State University, Denver
  • Outstanding Fine Artist, Performance – Emily Fuchs attending Pima Community College
  • Outstanding Fine Artist, Visual – Josephine Tolsa Santillan attending Arizona State University

Additional highlights of college choices for the Class of 2015 are: Hailey Conger attending the United States Military Academy, West Point; Lauren Conger attending Cornell University; Alexa Keith attending the University of Chicago; Benjamin Lynch attending Boston College; Mallory Murray attending Georgetown University; Sarah Punzel attending the University of Pennsylvania; and Annie Scarangella attending Brown University.

Salpointe commends the Class of 2015 for their achievements and wishes them all the best as they take what has been learned at Salpointe on to college and beyond.

About Salpointe Catholic High School:
Since opening its doors in 1950, Salpointe Catholic has enjoyed a distinguished reputation for its strong curriculum, competitive athletics, highly-acclaimed fine arts, faith-strengthening religious program and spirited co-curricular activities. Salpointe’s holistic, college-preparatory curriculum offers a premier STEM program, award-winning fine and performing arts, Humanities, theology, competitive athletics and wide-ranging co-curricular activities. Founded in 1950, Salpointe is a Catholic, Carmelite, college-preparatory high school enrolling 1,082 students. Salpointe is accredited by the Western Catholic Educational Association and accredited as a college-preparatory school by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Softball: Flores helps Salpointe advance to state finals

Megan Flores just had to trust herself.

Standing on third base in the bottom on the seventh inning with the score tied 4-4, the Salpointe Catholic junior did just that, darting toward home on a passed ball without her coach’s consent.

Flores scored in walk-off fashion in a 5-4 win over No. 9 Peoria Sunrise Mountain on Saturday, sending the No. 2 Lancers back to state for the first time since 1999.

“I know I’m not fast, but I trust my instincts,” Flores said. “I saw (the ball) coming back, so I knew I had to get down and get in to win the game.”

Lopez had a two-run double in the seventh as Salpointe rallied for four runs to make it a second straight all-Southern Arizona Division II softball final.

The Lancers (29-7) will face No. 3 Cienega (25-8) at Tempe’s Farrington Softball Stadium at 5 p.m. Monday for the state title.

Cienega beat Salpointe 3-1 on Thursday to advance to the final. In last year’s Division II championship, Ironwood Ridge beat Canyon del Oro 2-1.

“Thank God she didn’t hesitate,” said first-year coach and Salpointe alum Amy Baray-Rocha of Flores’ run. “That’s when bad things happen. She read it and she went for it. I have total trust in all my players. That’s what it comes down to. Trusting yourself, trusting your teammates.”

The Lancers, who haven’t won a state title since 1996, had their work cut out for them trailing the Mustangs 4-1 in the seventh.

“I just said play with your heart and fight till the last out and that’s what they did,” said Baray-Rocha. “They never stopped believing. I’m so proud of them.”

Freshman Erika Marquez started Salpointe’s comeback after being hit by a pitch in the seventh. Two batters later, a double to right field by junior Brianna Aguilar-Beaucage put the pair in scoring position.

A walk by senior Dominique Payne loaded the bases, to set the stage for Flores. She doubled through the middle of the infield, scoring Marquez and Aguilar-Beaucage, to pull the Lancers within 4-3 with just one out.

“I just knew I needed to get it on the ground and through the infield to score some runs,” said Flores. “That was my job and I did my job.”

The following batter, senior Allison Curtis tied the game at 4-4 on a chopper through the left side, scoring Payne.

Salpointe got on the board in the sixth on a bloop-single down the right-field line from senior Annie Scarangella to score freshman Yannira Acuna.

“We started off a little slow,” said Scarangella. “We were very excited and a little nervous but we knew we could come back. We have a lot of heart as team.

“We pick each other up.”

Aguilar-Beaucage, who relieved senior Delfina Morales in the third, earned the win, striking out seven in 4ª innings.

“I know Brianna wanted to get it done for her seniors,” said Baray-Rocha. “Hat’s off to her.”


High school baseball: Salpointe holds off Sunnyside

Salpointe Catholic’s baseball team kept the hopes of winning its first state title alive after surviving an elimination game against No. 5 Sunnyside on Thursday

The second-seeded Lancers (27-5) advanced to within one win of Tuesday’s Division II state championship game, with the help of timely hitting and a strong start from senior Ernesto Romero in the 6-3 victory against the Blue Devils at Hi Corbett Field.

“I didn’t have to say anything during the week, he just kept saying ‘I’ve got this,’ ” coach Danny Preble said about his starter. “I don’t think if he would have gone down 10-0, you would have known it. He competed his butt off.”

Salpointe plays Tucson at Hi Corbett on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in another elimination game.

Senior Brandon Alev hit a go-ahead triple to score pinch runner Jose Osete with two outs in bottom of the fifth to give the Lancers a 4-3 lead.

Osete replaced junior Robby Campillo, who went 3 for 3.

“I just had to slow the game down and trust that my hands they were fast enough to react,” said Alev. “I wasn’t thinking a lot. It was just see the ball, hit the ball. Being a senior you want to show some leadership and do something that lifts your team up and that’s exactly what happened.”

Back-to-back RBI singles through the left side by seniors Donny Sands and Jio Orozco extended Salpointe’s lead to 6-3 after five.

Romero gave up three runs, one earned, and nine hits over 6º innings before making way for a bases-loaded, nine-pitch save from Sands.

“I was pretty upset when I wasn’t able to finish,” said Romero. “It’s a pet peeve among the team that you’ve got to finish the game, but it’s all right. We came out with the win and that’s all that matters.”

Down to their last out, the Blue Devils threatened late, loading the bases with the help of hits by seniors Jesus Bracamontes and Carlos Moreno.

All three of the Blue Devils runs came in the third, highlighted by pinch runner Ernie Bonillas stealing home to give Sunnyside a 2-0 lead.

Trailing 3-0, Salpointe responded in the bottom of the frame with a three-spot of its own, including RBIs from Alev and Sands, to tie the game at 3.

“We are right where we think we are supposed to be,” said Alev. “We definitely have the confidence that we should contend for a title. We knew that at the beginning of the season and we know that now.”

Heading into the game, the Lancers’ last three games had been decided by a combined five runs.

Coach Preble credited the Lancers’ 16-15 loss to CDO on Monday for their fight today.

“We were never out of that ball game,” said Preble. “We obviously had to deal with some adversity. We go down early, we come back, we go down, we come back, we go down. So the adversity was there. We competed. These guys have competed since Day 1. We are in every ball game.”

Cienega, Salpointe advance to softball state semifinals

Both the Cienega and Salpointe Catholic softball teams pulled within one win of advancing to the Division II state championship game Monday night.

The No. 4 Bobcats took down No. 9 Peoria Sunrise Mountain 13-5 at Rose Mofford Sports Complex, while second-seeded Salpointe held off No. 3 Cactus for a 5-4 walk-off victory in extra innings to push its winning streak to 14 games.

The two Southern Arizona programs will square off in a 6:30 p.m. game on Thursday at Cherry Field with a trip to next Monday’s state final on the line. Cienega beat the Lancers 3-2 on March 30 and Salpointe hasn’t lost since.

“Every team we play at this point is a solid ball club,” said Amy Baray-Rocha, Salpointe’s first-year coach. “We have to just keep to our game plan no matter who we face and I think that is what’s going to help us for the rest of the way. To just stick to what we do best.”

Salpointe’s last championship appearance came in 1999 while Cienega was the 4A-I runner-up in 2011 and the champion in 2010.

Canyon del Oro, the Division II runner-up last spring, plays Sunrise Mountain on Wednesday at Rose Mofford in a single-elimination game. The Dorados dropped to the loser’s bracket after a 12-4 loss to Salpointe last week.

It was a little closer for the Lancers on Monday night.

Brianna Aguilar-Beaucage led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a ground-rule double, and senior Nique Payne drove in the junior with a line drive to the right-center gap for the walk-off win.

Salpointe (28-6) led 4-2 heading into the sixth inning but surrendered a pair of run, allowing Cactus to tie the game. Senior captain Annie Scarangella came up to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom frame, but the Cactus star popped out to center to end the inning.

“I was just trying to get something hot on the ground and luckily it was a line drive,” Payne said. “I didn’t even see her touch home honestly. I just saw them cheering and I ran straight to my team.”

Cienega (24-8) exchanged runs early against Sunrise Mountain, but it eventually pulled away for good with the help of a four-run fourth inning.

Senior Melanie Cross came through with a two-out, two-run, ground-rule double to right field to start the rally. The Bobcats added another two runs on two errors by the Mustangs to take a commanding 10-5 lead.

Cienega trailed 4-2 heading into the bottom of the third but also posted four runs in that frame thanks to a bases-loaded triple by sophomore Taylor Lambert. It was a blooper just inside the foul line but the left fielder misplayed the ball and allowed the Bobcats to take a permanent lead.

Senior pitcher Kayla Green faced a bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh inning with no outs but retired three straight batters to secure the win. She had eight strikeouts in the game.

“They just believe,” Cienega coach Eric Tatham said. “They believe that it doesn’t matter where we are in the game that we’re going to be able to come back.”

Baseball: Sunnyside, Salpointe stay alive in state tournament

With the bases loaded and one out in a tie game in the bottom of the seventh inning, Sunnyside baseball coach Gabriel Moraga had the upmost confidence in sophomore Joey Molina.

Moraga told Molina to relax and to drive the ball right back up the middle.

After those instructions, Phoenix Greenway, the defending Division II state champs, moved its right fielder into the infield, placing him right smack dab in the middle on the diamond.

Even with the defensive adjustment, Moraga's advice didn't change.

“I just told him, do the same thing, don't change your approach, do the same thing, hit it up the middle,” Moraga said. “When he came up I was like, right man, right spot. He's been doing it for us all season.”

Molina stepped out of the batter's box, took a slow, methodical practice cut and stepped right back in, eyeing down Greenway's Jared Kenyon. On a 1-1 count, Molina lined a single up the middle of the diamond, which bounced off the fielder's glove and trickled away. The winning run crossed home plate, and the No. 5 Blue Devils (24-9) had secured an all-Southern Arizona state semifinals with the 4-3 victory.

Sunnyside will play No. 2 Salpointe Catholic Thursday at Hi Corbett Field at 4 p.m with a spot in the state semifinals on the line. The Blue Devils earlier beat the Lancers 11-10 in the Cowboy Up Tournament in February.

“I feel good, pumped and ready to go for Thursday's game,” an out-of-breath Molina said. “I was just trying to hit something hard on the ground. This is a great feeling.”

The No. 7 Demons blasted hit after hit well into the fifth inning to take a 3-0 lead. Though Sunnyside sophomore pitcher Angel Castillo was rocked early, he limited the damage with the help of four pickoff plays from senior catcher JoJo Escarcega. 

Junior Chris Celaya singled to left field in the fifth inning to give Sunnyside its first run. In the next frame, Escarcega tied the game with a two-out RBI single to left field after junior Ruben Figueroa hit his own RBI single.

“This took all of us in this dugout to win this game tonight,” Escarcega said. “Angel bared down. Everybody just put in their work, had great at-bats and put the ball in play.

Back in February, the season started with 77 baseball squads from Division II vying for a chance to be champions. After Monday night, there were just four teams left standing after a grueling odyssey to the state semifinals. The last four remaining all hail from Southern Arizona.

First, No. 2 Salpointe Catholic turned to stopper senior pitcher Jio Orozco to deal a complete-game shutout with five strikeouts, while surrendering just two singles to help the Lancers beat No. 4 Peoria Sunrise Mountain 2-0.

On short rest, battling the flu, "Jio just pitched," said Salpointe coach Danny Preble. "Usually he wants to come out and overpower everybody, which he can do, but he didn't have his stuff and was a little bit under the weather, little bit short rest, on four days instead of five, but he battled.

"He competed his butt off and that was good for us.”

Salpointe was held hitless until the fifth inning, when the Lancers collected five hits, including two doubles, to take a 2-0 lead.

“We were just missing that spark, that's not the usual flare we play with,” Salpointe senior center fielder Brandon Alev said. “We all as a group just kind of decided 'this is enough, we shouldn't be playing like this.' We decided it's time to turn it on.”

While Alev's RBI ground-rule double to left field tacked on an insurance run, they way Orozco was throwing, Alev knew he didn't need it.

“Days like today you realize how great (Jio) really is, because obviously when he has his stuff people aren't going to touch him,” Alev said. “But on days like this, when he's not on, he still figures out a way to get it done and still pitch a seven-inning shutout. My hat goes off to him, he really does a great job.”

Molina, Monday night's hero, was excited to bring postseason baseball back to Tucson. He mentioned it as a chance for the remaining teams to show fans the city really has talent.

“It shows that everybody in Tucson can play ball with anyone,” Molina said. “We all have the heart to win it.”

Prep picks: Baseball, softball take over spotlight

Baseball: Roughly 20 miles away from Farrington Stadium, both Salpointe Catholic and Sunnyside will be at Maryvale Baseball Park trying to keep their seasons alive after losing in the winner quarterfinals of the Division II state tournament on Friday.

The second-seeded Lancers face No. 4 Peoria Sunrise Mountain at 4 p.m. in their first game since a wild-and-crazy 16-15 loss to No. 3 Canyon del Oro. No. 5 Sunnyside, which lost 4-2 against top-seeded Tucson High in the last week, plays defending state champion Phoenix Greenway at 6:30 p.m. in a win-or-go-home contest.

The winners move on to the next round of single-elimination play on Thursday.


Softball: Second-seeded Salpointe Catholic and No. 4 Cienega play in opposite quarterfinal games at Rose Mofford Sports Complex scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. If both win, they’ll meet Thursday for a trip to next Monday’s championship game.

A loss for either team would create a much tougher scenario: They would have to win three games in three nights to reach the final.

Salpointe, which has won 13 straight games, poured it on late in a 12-4 win against No. 7 Canyon del Oro on Thursday night while the Bobcats took down Tucson High 14-0 for its seventh straight win. Cienega topped the Lancers 3-2 on March 20.

Lancers rout CDO, advance to softball state quarterfinals

All season long, Salpointe Catholic's softball team has played with the idea of blocking out the 'what-might-be's' and the 'what-could-be's' by focusing on the next pitch.

That tunnel vision approach and the Lancers season motto of, “stay humble, stay hungry” rung true when Salpointe routed No. 7 Canyon del Oro 12-4 at Amphitheater on Thursday night in the third round of the Division II state tournament.

The win is the team's 13th straight and marks the second over the Dorados this spring. It pins the second-seeded Lancers against No. 3 Glendale Cactus in the quarterfinals of the winner's bracket, two wins from a trip to the state finals.

CDO dropped to the loser's bracket with the loss but can keep its season alive with a win Saturday, when it plays No. 6 Sahuaro at Cherry Field at 11:30 a.m. The Cougars beat Dorados 7-2 earlier in the season.

“We're one step away from reaching our goal,” Salpointe coach Amy Baray-Rocha said. “They've played their hearts out every single game, I'm just so proud of them.

"They just focus on the next pitch and don't try to look ahead, they just live in the moment.”

Thursday night sure had a few moments to remember.

Junior Brianna Aguilar-Beaucage, whose fingerprints were all over this game, came in to pitch in relief of senior Delfina Morales in the fourth inning after CDO's Heather launched a two-run single to centerfield.

The Dorados had notched nine hits up to this point, but then Aguilar-Beaucage got CDO freshman slugger Ellessa Bonstrom to ground into an inning-ending double play.

From then on, she shut down CDO, cooling the bats of the hot-hitting Dorados and not allowing a hit the remainder of the game.

In Aguilar-Beaucage's next at-bat in the fifth inning, she singled to left field with the bases loaded to bring home the go-ahead run. That helped spark a rally leading to two more runs and a 7-4 lead. She finished 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.

“She's a gamer,” Baray-Rocha said. “She's someone you want on the mound representing you when your backs up against the wall because you know she's going to get it done.”

The Dorados came unraveled when the Lancers tacked on five more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on one hit, an error and a walk. CDO was doomed by six hit batters, five walks and four errors.

“We've been working hard for this, of course its great to win and keep going,” Aguilar-Beaucage said. “But, this win is just another game to get closer to a championship.”

Essentially, last season's state runner-up didn't stand a chance, especially after the miscues started to add up.

CDO coach Kelly Fowler realized some nerves came into play, but she doesn't expect her squad to dig themselves into another hole the next time on the diamond.

“Its hard to defend free walks,” Fowler said. “Our pitchers, they'll get better, it was a freak thing what happened tonight. I really don't see that happening again.”

Gaona: Orozco, Santa Cruz have the right flair on diamond

They just can’t seem to agree on what happened.

Sahuarita senior Sati Santa Cruz swears that he once hit a home run off of Salpointe Catholic’s Jio Orozco, but Orozco says otherwise.

“It was a ground-rule double, and I hit a home run off him,” Orozco said with a laugh. “He always fights with me about that, but it’s the complete opposite.”

Although that situation is still up for debate, here’s one thing that isn’t: Orozco and Santa Cruz are two of the best pitchers — and maybe the best all-around players — in the state.

The two right-handers have been Southern Arizona stars over the last four years and are signed to play for coach Andy Lopez and the Arizona Wildcats next year. However, both are expected to be selected relatively early in next month’s MLB first-year player draft and could opt to bypass college.

As the state tournaments begin this weekend, their days as high school players are numbered. Get to know each one of them before it’s too late:


School: Salpointe Catholic

Height, weight: 6 feet 1 inch, 210 pounds

Numbers on the mound: Orozco is 6-2 with a 1.72 ERA and 69 strikeouts through 44º innings. He has won 21 games and has struck out 253 batters over his four-year career.

About that bat: While Orozco’s pitching is the main attraction, Salpointe coach Danny Preble may be an even bigger fan of Orozco’s hitting. He has accounted for a team-high 33 RBIs and hit seven doubles, six home runs and three triples with an .810 slugging percentage. “His contributions at the plate have helped us a bunch this year,” Preble said.

Team outlook: The Lancers (23-4) earned the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the Division II state tournament. Orozco will make the start when Salpointe hosts either No. 15 Scottsdale Saguaro or No. 18 Flagstaff Coconino in the second round Tuesday, but he’s just one part of a 1-2-3 punch along with fellow senior Ernesto Romero and junior Branden Hance. “We’re going to go as far as our pitchers take us with that three-headed monster that we have in a rotation and a closer in Donny Sands,” Preble said.

Go-to pitch: Fastball. Orozco has been clocked at 94 mph multiple times this season. “It’s fast,” he said.

Ones to work on: Curveball and changeup. Orozco has been trying to get them to be more consistent and said they worked really well in Monday’s 7-1 win at Chandler Seton Catholic when he struck out 10 in the complete-game victory.

Secret weapon: Slider. He resorted to it a couple times against Seton and said the batters looked kind of fooled.

Favorite pitcher: Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays. “He’s a down-to-earth guy,” Orozco said. “I like the way he throws, he’s a competitor.”

Favorite baseball movie: Bull Durham. “It’s just funny,” he said. “A lot of funny parts.”

Why the Wildcats: “I’ve always wanted to go there,” Orozco said. “Big ballpark, it’s a pitcher’s park. Not a lot of home runs hit there.”

Fab Fives: No. 1 Salpointe softball's win streak at 11

Each Tuesday throughout the regular season, the Star has ranked the top five local baseball, softball and boys volleyball high school teams.

With the baseball and softball state tournaments kicking off Friday and Saturday, these will be the final rankings until after the playoffs come to an end next month.

Here is this week’s poll, with last week’s ranking in parentheses. Records include Monday’s action but do not include tournament games or matches.


1. Salpointe Catholic (1) 16-1: Senior captains Annie Scarangella and Delfina Morales came through big in last week’s dramatic 8-7 walk-off win against Sahuaro. Now Salpointe has won 11 straight games and could be on its way to winning its first state championship in two decades.

2. Canyon del Oro (3) 14-3: With an 11-game winning streak, it’s clear that the Dorados are in position to get back to the Division II state finals for the fourth time in the last five season. No. 7 CDO is in position to have a first-round bye as long as it wins its regular-season finale on Tuesday.

3. Sahuaro (2) 14-3: Two days after a wild loss in eight innings at Salpointe Catholic, the Cougars resumed a tied game at Casa Grande Vista Grande and lost 5-4. But Sahuaro is still ranked third in Division II and has wins against CDO and Cienega under its belt.

4. Cienega (4) 12-3: As long as the Bobcats can win both of their games this week, they’ll have a first-round bye to start the postseason for the third straight year. However, Cienega has won its opener and then lost back-to-back games in each of the last two years to be eliminated.

5. Ironwood Ridge (5) 14-3: With just one game this week and an impending first-round bye in the Division II state tournament, the Nighthawks will have a nice chance to rest up and prepare to defend their first-ever state championship.

Dropped out: None.


1. Salpointe Catholic (1) 16-1: Last spring, the Lancers entered the final week of the season unsure of their postseason fate. Now the question is whether or not Salpointe will get the No. 1 seed in the Division II state tournament and how far it can go.

2. Canyon del Oro (2) 15-2: First-year coach Keith Francis has the Dorados riding a five-game winning streak heading into Tuesday’s regular-season finale against Catalina Foothills on Tuesday. CDO is ranked third in Division II and has won 13 of its last 14.

3. Desert Christian (3) 18-0: The top-ranked, two-time defending state champion Eagles — who are 26-1 including tournament play — close the season at St. Augustine Catholic on Tuesday and should take a 17-game winning streak into the Division IV state tournament.

4. Tucson (4) 15-1: Two years removed from a trip to the state semifinals, the Badgers appear to be in position to get back to that point and maybe further. Second-ranked Tucson has won nine straight games and will have a first-round bye in the Division II state tournament.

5. Catalina Foothills (NR) 12-4: After dropping out last week, the Falcons made their way back into the top five thanks to wins against Casa Grande Vista Grande and Mountain View. Foothills faces Canyon del Oro and Ironwood Ridge to close out the season.

Dropped out: No. 5 Sunnyside (13-4).

Parikh among Southern Arizona players in individual quarterfinals

Defending Division II singles state champion Yash Parikh of Salpointe Catholic made quick work of his third-round matchup, sweeping 6-0, 6-0 on his quest to the individual state title.

Parikh, a junior and the No. 1 overall seed, has only lost to Catalina Foothills junior Mike Lee this season. No. 2-ranked Lee downed Cholla’s Francisco Sotelo 6-4, 6-0 to advance to the quarterfinals at Paseo Racquet Center in Phoenix on Friday.

No. 5 Bogdan Racolta of Foothills and No. 8 Flowing Wells’ Gretis Li both won in convincing fashion to advance to the quarterfinals.

Six of the final eight doubles teams remaining hail from the Old Pueblo. Top-seeded Foothills duo of Nate Rasmussen and Dalton Reisig handled their third-round matchup winning 6-0, 6-0. They’ll face Sierra Vista Buena’s Brent Haws and Matt Watters in the quarterfinals.

Ironwood Ridge’s Ryan Knox and Brody Harn will face Rincon/University’s Brendan Rumel and Henry Wang.

In the Division III boys doubles bracket, both the No. 4 and 5 seeded squads needed a third set to earn a spot amongst the final eight duos. The Gregory School’s No. 4 pairing of Gabriel Swenson and Max Mainman squeaked by with a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 win, and No. 5 Desert Christian team of Zach Buell and Ethan Drummond came back to win after dropping the first set (4-6, 6-1, 6-3).

On the girls side, in Division II singles play, No. 1 Salpointe Catholic’s Caroline Amos, No. 3 Rincon/University’s Chloe Gavino and No. 8 Foothills’ Morgan Chakraborty all won, advancing to next weekend's quarterfinals round.

Amos and Chakraborty will square off, with the winner securing her spot in the in semifinals.

In doubles action, three teams from Southern Arizona survived and advanced to the next round, including No. 1 seed Kirtana Bhat and Abby Watson of Foothills, No. 2 Kelsey Brown and Allison Knox of Ironwood Ridge, and No. 4 CarrieBelle Kent and Lindsay Pesquiera of Rincon/University.


Drama, talent put prep game in big leagues

Tuesday afternoon at the ballpark didn’t look like much from the intersection of Mountain Avenue and Copper Street. There was no PA system. No one charged for admission. And Sahuaro outfielder Dylan Sanchez stepped into the batter’s box with a large hole in the back of his well-worn uniform pants.

But this time it was just more than another baseball game between rivals Salpointe Catholic and Sahuaro. There were plots and subplots all over the ballpark.

Eight major league baseball scouts took their places in the bleachers, all of them to see Salpointe right-hander Jio Orozco.

Three TV cameramen stood behind the Sahuaro dugout, eager to learn why Cougars coach Mark Chandler had returned from a suspension.

Neither of Sahuaro’s draft-eligible prospects, pitcher Javier Medina and Cesar Salazar, were in uniform, torn or otherwise. The Mexican-born players, both of whom have signed to play at Arizona, were ruled ineligible by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

“Their visas aren’t accepted by the AIA,” Chandler said. “That’s it. We’ve moved on.”

Chandler is a Marine Corps veteran who has coached Sahuaro to 217 victories in 12 seasons. The UA grad has become one of the leading baseball coaches in Arizona. He has one speed: foot-to-the-pedal, but the suspension stopped everything.

According to TUSD, Chandler was suspended for “commingling of student activity and booster club funds” and, among other things, for violating the no-Sunday-play rule during summer competition. He was issued a written reprimand.

On Tuesday, Chandler started four sophomores against the powerful Lancers, and Orozco, which wasn’t promising. Salpointe won 11-4, but Chandler seemed eager to get back at it.

“We’re not here to turn out major league players,” he said. “Our objective is to make this an enjoyable time for the kids, and to make relationships that last. It’s been a difficult few weeks for all of us.”

During his suspension, to keep himself occupied, Chandler hiked in Sabino Canyon and went to the gym. He kept in touch, getting play-by-play reports from those in the bleachers.

On Tuesday, it was all in front of him. Salpointe is very good, one of about eight Tucson baseball teams with the capacity to play deep into next month’s state playoffs. The scouts aimed their radar guns at Orozco, also a UA signee, who hit 94 mph at one stretch.

Orozco probably needs to command a breaking pitch before he will be considered an early-round draft pick, but when you throw 94 mph, you attract a crowd. He is 5-2 with a 1.86 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 37 innings, but the emerging story at Salpointe is that the Lancers have two other potential stoppers, the kind of pitching staff that can realistically contend for a state championship.

Do you realize Salpointe has never won a state baseball title? Not in more than 50 years.

The Lancers have been coached by Pima County Sports Hall of Famers John Gleeson and Jerry Stitt, and by one of the state’s top high school baseball coaches ever, Kent Winslow, but they’ve never won it all.

This year, coach Danny Preble can package Orozco with lefty Ernesto Romero (6-0, 60 strikeouts in 42 innings) and Branden Hance ( 4-1, 1.63 ERA).

Much like Chandler at Sahuaro, Preble has built a consistent power at Salpointe. He is 144-64 in his seventh year, averaging more than 20 wins per season, which is typically the hallmark for excellence in high school baseball.

Preble is a baseball lifer and a Lancer-for-life, which has been beneficial for Salpointe’s baseball program.

He graduated from Salpointe in 1995, a first-team all-city selection, at a time being an all-city player put him in the company of future Arizona regulars Diego Rico, Omar Moraga, Jeff Casper and Andy Juday.

“My mom played ball, my dad played ball and my wife played ball,” Preble said. “It’s what I do. I grew up at the ballpark.”

Danny’s father, Keith Preble, was a Salpointe baseball standout, a catcher who went on to play at Pima College. His mother, Mercy Preble, a catcher, was one of Tucson’s leading softball players of her generation. His wife, Candi, also a catcher, set the school home run record at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee, where Danny completed his playing career.

Do you know what the Prebles did after Tuesday’s victory over Sahuaro? They drove to Fort Lowell Park, where Danny is also the head coach of his son’s Little League team. Like their father, Wyatt and Gabriel are catchers, too.

Team Preble has four more regular-season games before the state playoffs. It’s conceivable they can reach the school record of 27 victories, a mark set by the 1996 Lancers, a team that reached the state championship game.

In the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game, as Preble replaced Orozco, the eight major league scouts packed up their gear and left the ballpark, as if there was nothing left to see.

But at Salpointe, the baseball season is just getting started.

Salpointe students receive corporate National Merit Scholarships

Nine Tucson-area students have been named winners of corporate-sponsored National Merit Scholarship awards.

Corporate sponsors provide scholarships for National Merit finalists who are children of their employees, are residents of communities the company serves, or who plan to pursue college majors or careers the sponsor wishes to encourage.

The local winners are:

Lauren E. Conger and Julianne M. Lussier of Salpointe Catholic High School, receiving the National Merit Raytheon Scholarship

Carter R. Hesselink of Basis Oro Valley, receiving the National Merit Xerox Foundation Scholarship

Scott M. McKinley and Mitchell J. Wagner of Ironwood Ridge High School, both receiving the National Merit Raytheon Scholarship

Hannah C. Bergmann and Ethan Daniel Manninen of University High School, receiving the National Merit Raytheon Scholarship

Grace E. Johnson of Pusch Ridge Christian Academy, receiving the National Merit Raytheon Scholarship

Xochitl R. Longstaff of Basis Tucson North, receiving the National Merit Nelson F. Peterson Scholarship.

Most of the awards are renewable for up to four years of college undergraduate study and provide annual stipends that range from $500 to $10,000 per year. Some provide a single payment between $2,500 and $5,000.

Students entered the 2015 National Merit Scholarship competition when they took the 2013 Preliminary SAT, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

Approximately 16,000 semifinalists were named, 15,000 of whom advanced to the finalist level.

In the end, around 7,600 winners with the strongest combination of academic skills and achievements, extracurricular accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies will receive National Merit Scholarships.

Morales leads way as Salpointe rallies for extra-inning win

Salpointe Catholic quickly fell into a five-run deficit against Sahuaro on Tuesday afternoon, in a clash between two of the top softball teams in Division II.

But little by little and without panicking, senior pitcher Delfina Morales dug the host Lancers from devastation to celebration.

Morales struck out 11 batters over eight innings and came up with two crucial hits late in the game, including a walk-off RBI single to left field that capped off a wild 8-7 victory to give Salpointe its seventh straight win.

“This win is huge,” first-year Salpointe coach Amy Baray-Rocha said. “It’s huge to prepare us mentally for our run at state.

“They showed today that they’re hungry and they want to run at it.”

Second-ranked Sahuaro led 5-0 after a sloppy opening frame by the No 3 Lancers, but Morales settled down and gave up just three more hits the rest of the way. She also retired 10 of the final 11 batters she faced on her way to improving to 15-5 this spring.

“This was out biggest game of the season and it just propels us into the playoffs,” Morales said. “We’ve jut got to keep winning our next few games.”

Both Sahuaro (21-6) and Salpointe (21-6) are almost certainly locks to qualify for the upcoming state tournament, but Tuesday’s win moved the Lancers one step closer to securing the No. 1 seed for their quest to win their first state championship since 1996, when Baray-Rocha was a player for Salpointe rather than a coach.

“We practice every day to 110 percent and we just never give up,” Baray-Rocha said. “Today showed how much heart my girls had and I’m so proud of them.”

The messy start defensively, Morales said, was a factor of nerves but those nerves were nowhere to be found late in the game.

Senior Annie Scarangella hit a two-out double in the bottom of the sixth inning and scored one batter later on an RBI triple by Morales to trim Sahuaro’s lead to 7-5. Moments later, freshman Erika Marquez drilled a game-tying two-run shot over the left-field fence to pull the Lancers even for the first time since the game started. It was the first home run of her career.

“I think this only the start of something great,” Marquez said. “We’re all just starting to realize that we all blend really well together and that we’re ready to take state.”

Morales struck out the side in the seventh inning and pitched into three groundouts the next frame before her game-winning hit.

An error allowed freshman Yannira Acuna to get on base to start the bottom of the eighth inning and she moved to second after a base on balls by Scarangella, who hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the third inning.

Just a few pitches later, Morales send a ball bouncing into left field as Acuna came rounded third at full speed on her way to scoring the winning run.

“This shows a lot about out character and out work ethic,” Morales said. “We work really hard at practice every day and there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re the hardest working team in Arizona.”

Sahuaro pitcher Andie Larkins struck out nine batters and drove in two runs with a ball to the right field fence in the fifth inning to make it 7-4. But the Cougars couldn’t hold on from there and had a 10-game winning streak snapped with loss.

“We got complacent,” Sahuaro coach Jeff Fowler said. “We were satisfied with a 5-0 lead but with a good team you can’t let them stay around; you’ve got to put them away and we didn’t do that.”


Fab Fives: Salpointe claims top baseball spot

Each Tuesday through the end of the regular season, the Star will rank the top five local baseball, softball and boys volleyball high school teams.

Here is this week’s poll, with last week’s ranking in parentheses. Records include Monday’s action but do not include tournament games or matches.


1. Salpointe Catholic (2) 12-1: A surging Cienega team knocked off the Lancers last week on the road, handing them their first regular-season loss. But, with the help of a wild week and some quality wins, senior pitched Jio Orozco and Salpointe are atop the power rankings for the first time this season.

2. Canyon del Oro (1) 10-2: A 3-1 loss at Tucson High on Saturday snapped an eight-game winning streak from the Dorados, dropping them from the No. 1 spot. CDO has three games this week on top of having to resume a game against Ironwood Ridge that is tied 9-9.

3. Desert Christian (3) 13-0: Another week, another three wins for the Eagles. And once again, the two-time defending champs made it look easy. Desert Christian, ranked No. 1 in Division IV, hosts No. 9 Elfrida Valley Union on Tuesday and the takes on fourth-ranked Glendale Joy Christian on Wednesday at Grand Canyon University.

4. Tucson (NR) 11-1: If it wasn't for an 11-inning, 4-3 loss at Catalina Foothills two weeks ago, coach Oscar Romero and the Badgers would have a strong case to be Southern Arizona's top team. A convincing win against CDO on Saturday certainly proved that.

5. Sunnyside (5) 12-3: The Blue Devils already have quality wins against Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge and Nogales. They could earn another one Tuesday night when they host Tucson for a 6 p.m. showdown that could decide who gets a first-round bye in the upcoming state tournament.

Dropped out: No. 4 Catalina Foothills (10-4).


1. Salpointe Catholic (1) 12-1: The Lancers fell to No. 3 from the top spot in the Division II rankings but remain Southern Arizona's top team – at least for now. Salpointe extended its winning streak to six with a 5-1 victory over Catalina Foothills on Monday. The Lancers host Sahuaro on Tuesday in a clash of two state title contenders.

2. Sahuaro (2) 12-1: Heading into Tuesday's showdown at Salpointe, the Cougars have won 10 straight games, including three in a row on the road last week. A win against the Lancers will only move Sahuaro closer to a first-round bye and maybe even the No. 1 seed for the state tournament.

3. Canyon del Oro (5) 10-3: Look out, the Dorados are starting to find their rhythm. CDO has won seven straight games since losing at Marana on March 26, including four in a row against teams in position to qualify for the state tournament. 

4. Cienega (3) 10-3: The Bobcats, ranked fifth in Division II, had won 10 of their last 11 games before falling victim to a 3-2 upset at No. 25 Sunnyside last week. The loss shouldn't have an effect on Cienega's postseason hopes.

5. Ironwood Ridge (4) 12-3: All three losses by the Nighthawks have come against teams ranked inside the top 10 of Division II as of Monday – Canyon del Oro, Cienenga and Salpointe Catholic – and have each come by three runs. I-Ridge could get another shot at those teams down the road.

Salpointe baseball remains a top contender in Division II

Salpointe Catholic currently appears to be the team to beat in Division II baseball. The top-ranked Lancers entered the week unbeaten in the regular season with only three losses coming in invitational play.

"We're ready to go. The Lancers are ready to go and we're excited."

If Salpointe short stop Donny Sands had his way the state tournament would begin tomorrow. There's a reason he and his Lancer teammates are rolling through the regular season.

"Everybody is doing their job," said Sands. "Everyone is focused and into the game."

"We've been pitching well and playing good defense, that's our motto from day one," added coach Danny Preble. "We've got a lot of arms: young arms, old arms so we're pitching and playing defense and it's helping us win ball games."

"Like he said we have a lot of arms. That's big time for us," said Sands.

Extra arms at the high school level are key for a long postseason run, which the staff at Salpointe is preparing for.

"The sky is the limit for these guys," boasted Preble. "They've all bought in and we're playing 18 kids strong. It's fun to watch because they all like each other and play well together.

"I think we can do a lot of things. We're obviously going to pitch well and keep ourselves in ball games. We just have to get that timely hitting here in the state tournament."

Salpointe softball inching closer to goal of state championship

Earlier this week News 4 Tucson introduced you to the top-ranked Salpointe Catholic baseball team. The school also boasts the 2nd-ranked softball program - which appears to be peaking at the right time.

"Every game at this point is important for us to win," said pitcher Delfina Morales. "We have to battle each game and play each one like it's our championship game."

Salpointe has certainly played like a champion. The Lancers continue to win and often win big, lighting up the scoreboard for double digits.

"Our biggest thing is to stay hungry and stay humble so every pitch we go hard and every at bat we take one at a time," said Morales. "Our biggest motto is to get it done for the person behind us and in front of us in the order."

Motivating one another has been a key focus for Salpointe all season long.

"I think from the beginning, for us seniors especially, we said we wanted to get rings this year," admitted third baseman Annie Scarangella. "I think we are hopefully on our way to that."

"Our first practice everyone came out and was working really hard so we had high expectations," added short stop Allie Curtis. "You never meet those goals though. We're always fighting to get better and better."

With the goal of adding the program's third state title and the first since the mid-1990s.

"It's been a lot of fun so far," said Scarangella. "It would be a dream if we could win state but even so far it's been a great season, a great senior season."


Salpointe's Werbylo win Conquistadores Spring Classic crown

The 2015 Tucson Conquistadores Spring Classic golf invitational wrapped up on Sunday at Omni National's Catalina Course. Two local stars captured the championship crowns.

Salpointe Catholic standout Trevor Werbylo shot 1-under-par on Sunday, one stroke better than Cienega's Colton Gage, to give him a one shot victory. Werbylo was even par for the tournament while Gage finished +1. 

Werbylo drained three birdies on the front nine, which was the final nine holes for the boys on Sunday. The Lancer needed to par his final hole to avoid a tiebreaker scenario and was able to withstand the pressure.

Salpointe uses first year in sport to find feet

On the edge of the waterless Rillito River and in the shadow of the scenic Santa Catalina Mountains, Tucson has its own little beach.

Salpointe Catholic coach Heather Moore-Martin helped bring sand volleyball to the desert, at least at the high school level. The Lancers finished their debut season on Wednesday afternoon at Tucson Racquet and Fitness Club, their home venue.

Although the 3-2 loss to Buckeye Youngker closed out the year, Moore-Martin hopes it’s just the beginning of a new era on Southern Arizona.

“I hope we’re just going to step into sand volleyball and it’s just going to become part of what we do here and it won’t be such a foreign concept,” she said. “It’ll just become more available and the opportunity will be there for girls to experience volleyball in a different way.”

Seventeen schools in Arizona participate in the sport, which runs parallel with the rest of the outdoor spring activities. Each team sends out five teams of two players — think doubles tennis — to play best-of-three matches.

Shoes are optional, for both the players and spectators.

“I just bring my sandals to the court and I’m ready,” freshman Alanna Duarte said.

Duarte partnered with fellow freshman Peyton Lewis as Salpointe’s No. 1 duo, and they finished their season undefeated. They’ve both played indoor volleyball for some time but had never taken the sand until roughly a year ago.

“I think it’ll take off really quickly,” Duarte said. “I hope this starts something big.”

The 5-foot-4-inch Lewis is a setter when she plays the indoor game but does it all on the sand. She said she enjoys getting a chance to attack about 50 percent of the time.

“You have to run faster and it’s not a hard court, you don’t have shoes,” Lewis said “It makes you a lot more athletic and it increases your vertical (leap), which is really helpful.”

Moore-Martin believes the high school game could lead to more college scholarships for players. The UA, Arizona State and Grand Canyon make up three of the nation’s 39 Division I teams.

“We’ve got to give our kids this opportunity,” she said.

Immediately after Salpointe’s match Wednesday, Desert Sand Volleyball — a club team coached by Claire D’Amore — took the same courts for practice.

That, Moore-Martin said, is proof of how popular the Olympic sport has become. She hopes that other local schools in the area will begin to form teams of their own; Catalina Foothills, Sahuaro and Sierra Vista Buena have all shown interest.

Southern Arizona could one day form its own division in sand volleyball. If that happens, Moore-Martin might just get her own little beach on Salpointe’s campus.

“When we had our first sand match here, the very first day, it was one of the best days of my life,” she said. “It was really just so exciting to have those girls out here and to have the parents watching and just to be in this environment, looking at those mountains and blue sky. There’s nothing better.”


Salpointe Athletic Commitment Celebration

WHAT: Salpointe is hosting an Athletic Commitment Celebration to honor senior student-athlete Dionicia Colon-Mateo, who has committed to playing volleyball at the University of Antelope Valley.

WHEN:  Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 2:45 p.m.

WHERE:  Salpointe Catholic High School Hall of Fame Room (south entrance of Gymnasium); 1545 E. Copper Street.

EVENT:   The Athletic Commitment Celebration is a time to commend the academic and athletic successes of Salpointe students who will continue their athletic endeavors at the college level. The celebration is open to the public and media is welcome. 

The following Salpointe student-athletes have previously committed to a college and were recognized at a signing celebration in February:

Caroline Amos, Yale University (Tennis)
Taylor Anderson, Pima Community College (Soccer)
Andrew Bianchi, Pima Community College (Soccer)
Allison Curtis, Central Michigan University (Softball)
Delfina Morales, Trinity University (Softball)
Jio Orozco, University of Arizona (Baseball)
Nique Payne, Phoenix College (Softball)
Taylor Powell, Northern Arizona University (Football)
Bryanna Sanchez, Metropolitan State University of Denver (Soccer)
Donny Sands, University of New Mexico (Baseball)
Annie Scarangella, Brown University (Softball)
Nathan Thomas, United States Air Force Academy (Cross Country and Track)

About Salpointe Catholic High School:
Salpointe’s holistic, college-preparatory curriculum offers not only a premier STEM program, but also award-winning fine and performing arts, Humanities, theology, competitive athletics and wide-ranging co-curricular activities. Founded in 1950, Salpointe is a Catholic, Carmelite, college-preparatory high school enrolling 1,082 students. Salpointe is accredited by the Western Catholic Educational Association and accredited as a college-preparatory school by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. 

HS baseball: Orozco strikes out 15 as Lancers top I-Ridge

Jio Orozco found himself in a pitcher's duel Wednesday afternoon against Ironwood Ridge junior Nick Estrella in front of dozens of pro scouts but he didn’t even feel like he had his best stuff.

Still, the Salpointe Catholic senior right-hander reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out a 15-strikeout performance to help lead the host Lancers to a 5-4 win, improving them to 9-0 in games that count toward the power rankings.

“Honestly, I did not have my velocity today,” said Orozco, who is signed with the Arizona Wildcats. "I was throwing like 87-90, I'm usually 94. I didn't have it today.

“But, what worked for me today, in the third inning, I started getting my change-up low in the zone and my curveball started snapping off really good.”

Estrella battled with Orozco all afternoon as he fanned 10 batters, but he ultimately was doomed by defensive errors. Salpointe’s Jose Osete scored the game-winning run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning on a dropped fly ball in center field off the bat of senior Brandon Alev. That was the third error of the game for the Nighthawks.

While the young Nighthawks came up short against the top-ranked team in Division II, I-Ridge coach Dennis Toia was encouraged by his team's effort. I-Ridge (15-4) debuted at No. 12 in the first rankings of the season that came out Wednesday.

“We fought, we fought the whole time,” Toia said. “We never quit, and we kept battling and battling with Jio on the mound, it didn't matter what he did, we kept battling and it showed. That's why we had a chance to win this game.”

Osete, a junior outfielder, drove in two runs on a single to centerfield to give the Lancers a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. After that, Estrella, who surrendered three earned runs on four hits, shut down Salpointe until the final two frames.

I-Ridge junior Derek Daly knocked in a run in the third inning with a triple and launched a go-ahead two-run home run to centerfield in the fifth inning. Daly, finished 3-for-3 with 3 RBIs and a walk. Both run-scoring hits came with two strikes.

Senior Donny Sands gave the Lancers a one-run lead after he clobbered a two-run shot over the centerfield fence in the bottom of the sixth inning. Salpointe (15-3) never trailed again, even after I-Ridge tied the game in its next at-bat.

Sands, who played in the Division III state championship game with Empire, noted the Lancers needs to become a cohesive unit if they want to make postseason run.

“It’s going to take all of us, the whole team as one and just come together and execute in situations that we need to,” Sands said. “ It was a good team win; a lot of stuff didn't go right but, at the end of the day, we still got the W.”

With the Lancers riding a six-game winning streak, Preble echoed Sands. Salpointe has nine games left in the regular season, five of which are on the road.

“I like that its an 18-man unit right now,” Preble said. “We have our horses in the middle, but its 18 guys that are kind of figuring out how to pull together and move in one direction."

Preble was impressed by Orozco’s outing and didn’t realize how many strikeouts he had until after the game. Still, the coach was not surprised by the performance.

"He's our guy,” Preble said.

Fab Fives: Baseball, softball and boys volleyball rankings

Tournaments are over and the regular season is in full swing.

Here are the Star’s first power rankings of the spring season for Southern Arizona’s top five in baseball, softball and boys volleyball teams.

Rankings for each sport will be updated every Tuesday through the end of the regular season; there will also be a final version of rankings once the postseason is finished.

Records are through Monday’s action, but don’t include tournament games and matches:


1. Canyon del Oro (4-1): The Dorados won both tournaments they’ve played in and were sitting at No. 16 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 national rankings last week. Plus, senior Nick Ames is tied for the most home runs in the state with six.

2. Salpointe Catholic (8-0): Star pitcher Jio Orozco isn’t the only weapon the Lancers have. Fellow senior Ernesto Romero has a 2.48 ERA and has struck out a team-high 38 batters. Meanwhile, senior Donny Sands is batting .434 and has 19 RBIs.

3. Nogales (6-2): A season removed from reaching the Division II state championship game, the Apaches took a five-game winning streak into Monday night before losing 10-6 to Sunnyside.

4. Desert Christian (5-0): The Eagles have won 35 of their last 36 games to go with back-to-back Division IV state championships. On top of that, they’ve got two of the top seniors in the state in left-handed pitcher Andrew Edwards and utility Zach Malis.

5. Catalina Foothills (7-3): All three regular-season losses for Foothills have come against playoff teams from last year: Nogales, Salpointe and Sunnyside. But with this week off, senior Brady Badart and the Falcons can regroup for the stretch run.


1. Canyon del Oro (4-2): Although the Dorados have lost two of their last four games, against Salpointe Catholic and Marana, they have still proved to be one of the top teams in the state by outscoring opponents 229-67 in 22 games. CDO also won the 24-team Desert Mountain Tournament in Phoenix.

2. Ironwood Ridge (8-1): The defending Division II state champions have won six straight games and notched a big win over the weekend, when it took down five-time Division I champion Mesa Red Mountain 10-0.

3. Cienega (5-1): Since opening the season with a 9-2 loss at CDO, the Bobcats have won five straight regular-season games by a combined 48-5. Senior ace Kayla Green has a 2.76 ERA and 36 strikeouts through 45 innings.

4. Salpointe Catholic (6-1): First-year coach Amy Baray-Rocha played for the Lancers in 1996 when they last won a state championship. Salpointe’s 9-7 win against CDO last week certainly proved what this team is capable of doing.

5. Nogales (4-0): The Apaches bulldozed through the first half of the season, winning 17 straight games and two tournaments. Now it’s just a question if Nogales can continue playing with the same fire through the second half of the season.


1. Rincon/University (5-1): Senior Nick Ogden averages a team-high 4.5 kills per set for the Rangers, who opened the season by winning the TUSD Invitational. Rincon’s lone loss came at Tucson High last week.

2. Marana (6-1): Excluding last week’s loss at Cienega, the Tigers have lost just one set in 19 attempts. Marana also won the San Pedro Classic in Los Angeles earlier this month.

3. Tucson (5-1): The Badgers lost to Rincon during the TUSD Invitational but got revenge last week in a much more meaningful match. Senior Damian Lumm led the way for Tucson with 22 kills, 14 digs and two aces.

4. Cienega (5-1): Since a season-opening four-set loss at Tucson High, Kadin Kramer and the Bobcats have rattled off five straight regular-season wins, including one against then-unbeaten Marana.

5. Ironwood Ridge (5-1): The Nighthawks come into this week having swept four of their last five opponents. I-Ridge will get its toughest test of the season when, on Wednesday, it hosts Chandler Hamilton, a state semifinalist last year.

Salpointe Senior Lauren Conger Awarded at SARSEF Science Fair

Conger SARSEF AwardSalpointe Senior Lauren Conger received the following awards at the recent Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation (SARSEF) science fair:

  • SARSEF Grand Award: 1st Place High School Excellence in Mathematics
  • Mu Alpha Theta Award for the most challenging, original, thorough and creative investigation of a problem involving mathematics
  • Raytheon Missile Systems Award for Excellence in Signal Processing, Machine Learning, or Cognitive Systems
  • Women in Science and Engineering Award

Competing amongst approximately 1,800 projects, Conger presented “An Application to Determine Multiple Derivatives and Integrals of Polynomial Functions” to a team of judges. The goal of her project was to determine a calculus formula for short-cutting steps when taking derivatives and integrals of polynomial functions.

Conger will graduate as a Salpointe Scholar in May and is in the process of deciding where to go to college. She plans to study mathematics and statistics or engineering.

"I greatly appreciate Salpointe's challenging math and science program because we are offered insight that guides us to understand material at a deeper level,” said Conger. “Salpointe has provided me access to an innovative STEM curriculum along with a strong humanities program, faith-based activities, and athletics. I’m so grateful for this well-rounded educational experience."

In January Salpointe opened the new Cracchiolo Family Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Center, an 8,000 square foot comprehensive, hands-on learning facility offering state-of-the art equipment and software.

“Women are vastly underrepresented in STEM degrees and jobs. One of our goals with Salpointe’s innovative new STEM Center is to inspire more female students to pursue STEM studies by using hands-on learning, collaboration and innovative projects,” said Brenda Wolpa, Science Department Chair and STEM Coordinator. “We are so proud of Lauren and believe she will lead the way for women in whatever STEM field she pursues.”

Salpointe’s STEM program prepares students to be effective critical thinkers, problem solvers, collaborators
and communicators. Using project-based learning and a collegiate-level facility, students design, fabricate, assemble, research and refine their innovations. The program creates a pipeline of future innovators and an educated workforce to meet the growing needs of STEM employers in Southern Arizona and the nation.

About Salpointe Catholic High School:

Salpointe’s holistic, college-preparatory curriculum offers not only a premier STEM program, but also award-winning fine and performing arts, Humanities, theology, competitive athletics and wide-ranging co-curricular activities. Founded in 1950, Salpointe is a Catholic, Carmelite, college-preparatory high school enrolling 1,082 students. Salpointe is accredited by the Western Catholic Educational Association and accredited as a college-preparatory school by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Salpointe becomes first team from Southern Arizona to compete in sand volleyball

Arizona became the first state in the country to hold an official sand volleyball season in the spring of 2012 and Tucson Salpointe became the first team from Southern Arizona to join in the sport when they began competition this month.

Phoenix Xavier Prep won the first historic championship (5-0 sweep of Fountain Hills) in 2012 and have since captured titles in 2013 and 2014. Salpointe is not eligible to play for the title this spring due to a lowered number of scheduled matches but the school will play a full schedule next year according to coach Heather Moore-Martin.

"There are four colleges in Arizona that offer the sport and we felt it was the right thing to do," Moore-Martin explained. "Sand volleyball is becoming the new sport for women and Salpointe agreed to help us field a team."

The University of Arizona, Arizona State, Grand Canyon and Arizona Christian all offer sand volleyball scholarships.

At the time of the announcement of the new sport in Arizona in the fall of 2011, the only Southern Arizona schools to show serious interest were Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge and Salpointe but neither one could gather much support from their administrations until the Lancers were able to move forward with Moore-Martin.

Salpointe was placed in Section I of Division I and they won their historic first match on March 6 over Scottsdale Rancho Solano Prep (4-0).

Also joining the fun for the first time this year is Scottsdale Chaparral under the direction of head coach Barry Hayes. Chaparral played their first match in school history against Salpointe on Monday at the Tucson Racquet Club.

"It was our first match and we didn't know what to expect," Hayes said. "We decided to try it out and this was our first time. We've only been able to scrimmage ourselves and now we know what we need to work on. We love it. I love it."

Chaparral defeated Salpointe 3-2 with the difference coming with the results from the third match where Haylie Bayster and Misty McCall defeated Salpointe's Clare Wickman and Isabella Ali 2-1.  The two teams were tied at 8-8 in the third set but Chaparral scored the final seven points to take it 15-8.

Salpointe's top team of Peyton Lewis and Alanna Duarte defeated Savannah Rummel and Lauren Stivrins  2-0 (21-17, 21-17). Stivrins has committed to Nebraska.

Play continues with five pairs competing. Each pair is trying to win the best of three with the first two going to 21 points. The third set, if needed, is played to 15.

Teams switch sides every seven points (five in the third set) and serves are alternated between the partners.

Lancer Classic highlights high school sports week

While the majority of students are on spring break this week, lounging and enjoying March Madness, local high school athletes will still be keeping busy.

The five-day AMSA Transportation Lancer Baseball Classic at the Reid Park Annex kicks off Monday morning and continues through Friday night’s championship game, scheduled for 7 p.m.

While the 28-team tournament will be in the spotlight all week, here’s a look at what else to watch:


Baseball: The Lancer Baseball Classic features 24 teams from Southern Arizona, including Sahuaro, Cienega, Tucson, Catalina Foothills, Nogales and Canyon del Oro. There are also schools coming from Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas and California.

Play begins at 10 a.m. each day and continues into the night. The top four teams after pool play face off in the semifinals on Friday at 4 p.m. The two winners will play in the final at 7.


Boys tennis: Defending state champion Catalina Foothills beat Salpointe Catholic twice last season, including 5-3 in the Division II state championship.

The two perennial powers face off again at Foothills on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Both clubs return players with plenty of state tournament experience.

The Lancers (4-0) bring back the defending singles state champion in junior Yash Parikh.

The Falcons (4-0) feature a team nearly identical to last season with seniors Bogdan Racolta and Dalton Reisig along with junior John Miller, who is undefeated in singles play dating back to his freshman season. Foothills also has junior Mike Lee, who won a singles state crown as a freshman.


Track and field: Twenty-seven teams from across Arizona will compete at the Willie Williams Classic at the UA’s Drachman Stadium.

The meet will be an opportunity for athletes to measure themselves against one another before the state championship meet in two months.

The championship rounds will be held on Friday night and Saturday.


Salpointe Presents Annual Willie Kane Humanitarian Award to Mark Mistler of BBVA Compass

Mark MistlerSalpointe Catholic High School is honored to present the annual Willie Kane Humanitarian Award to Mark Mistler, who was recognized on Friday, March 6 at Salpointe’s 27th annual Willie Kane Memorial Golf Tournament.

Chuck and Carrie Cecil created the award in 2006 to honor their close friend, Willie Kane, a professional golfer and graduate of Salpointe’s class of 1987 who passed away in 2006.  The award is presented annually at Salpointe’s Willie Kane Memorial Golf Tournament to an Arizonan whose time, work and life serve as a role model of caring and giving to others.

Mistler is currently the CEO for BBVA Compass for Tucson and Southern Arizona, and was the President of BBVA Compass for the previous 15 years.  He began his career with Valley National Bank in Phoenix before moving back to Tucson in 1987.

Mistler has served on numerous non-profit boards in the Tucson community. He is currently on the National Board of Advisors for the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management and serves on the Board of Directors for the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO), The Diocese of Tucson Catholic Foundation, Our Mother of Sorrows Parish Endowment Board, and Habitat for Humanity Executive Advisory Board.

“Mark Mistler is one of Tucson’s quiet heroes. He lives his life in service to others by modeling his Christian faith, creating a positive economic impact in our community, and demonstrating love and loyalty among his family, friends and colleagues. Salpointe is honored to salute Mark with this prestigious award,” said Kay Sullivan, Salpointe’s president.

Mistler has been married to his wife Kathy for 28 years and they have three Lancer graduates: Brian ’09, Kevin ’11 and Kyle ’14.

Previous winners of the Chuck Cecil Humanitarian Award include Roger Canchola in 2014, Dr. Bob Mutterperl in 2013, Rick Tornquist ’81 in 2012, Mike Harris ’56 in 2011, Steve Russo ’71 in 2008, Jim Click, Jr., in 2007, and Dave Sitton in 2006.

The Salpointe community sends its heartfelt thanks and congratulations to Mark Mistler on being named the 2015 Willie Kane Humanitarian of the Year.

About Salpointe Catholic High School:
Salpointe’s holistic, college-preparatory curriculum offers not only a premier STEM program, but also award-winning fine and performing arts, Humanities, theology, competitive athletics and wide-ranging co-curricular activities. Founded in 1950, Salpointe is a Catholic, Carmelite, college-preparatory high school enrolling 1,082 students. Salpointe is accredited by the Western Catholic Educational Association and accredited as a college-preparatory school by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Arizona football: Salpointe's Holt commits to Cats

The Arizona Wildcats have secured a commitment from one of their top targets in the 2016 class. 

Justin Holt, a three-star defensive lineman from Salpointe Catholic High School and the son of former Wildcat Julius Holt, committed to the UA early Saturday afternoon while on an unofficial visit. 

Holt, who has held an offer from Arizona for several months, tweeted the news of his commitment.

Holt had 60 tackles and two sacks as a junior for the Lancers. 

"I'm super thrilled for him," Salpointe coach Dennis Bene said. "I know it's been a goal of his for a while. I think him attending the U of A, with his father being such a great player, it's just really a great thing."

The defensive tackle is rated as the seventh best prospect in Arizona by He hasn't received any other scholarship offers as of yet. 

Bene said Colorado, Memphis, Oregon and UCLA were expressing the most interest in him. Oregon was hoping to get Holt to attend its "Junior Day" later this month, Bene said. The coach added Colorado and Memphis were close to offering. 

"First of all, he's 300 pounds, and he's very, very strong," Bene said. "He plays with great leverage and get under the pads of an offensive lineman. That's the key because he's so strong. When he plays with leverage, he can be a great player."

Holt is the third Lancer to commit to the Wildcats in the last three recruiting classes. Cam Denson and Kaelin DeBoskie signed with the UA in 2014.

Senior Bryanna S. earns soccer scholarship

Sanchez earns soccer scholarship: Arizona resident will play college ball in Denver

Bryanna Sanchez started playing soccer when she was 5 years old. Her parents put her in the sport to keep her active and healthy, and aside from the health benefits, Sanchez excelled and fell in love with the sport.

That love and her performance resulted in an additional benefit.

On Feb. 4, the 17-year-old signed a letter of intent to play soccer for the Metropolitan State University of Denver women's soccer team, the Metro State Roadrunners. She signed the letter at the Tucson Soccer Academy's clubhouse in the morning, calling it a dream come true.

"I worked so many years toward it," she said via telephone from Tucson, Arizona. "I had a lot of ups and downs during the recruiting process. There's a lot of struggle that goes into it. For something really positive to come out of it, it was a reward itself."

NCAA Division II

Sanchez will play for the NCAA Division II program on a full-ride scholarship. The Metro State Roadrunners women's soccer team finished last season with a 14-2-5 record, according to The Roadrunners play in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

The 5-foot-3-inch Sanchez said that she is excited to play at the next level.

"I'm a little nervous, but I don't think it's anything I can't handle as long as I put the work needed to play at that level," she said. "I know it's going to be a lot harder than anything I've ever experienced before. I have to prepare myself for that."

Sanchez verbally committed to play for the Roadrunners last summer. The school expressed interest in Sanchez after she showcased herself at the school's soccer camp last May. Sanchez said Metro State really liked her and thought she would be a good fit for the school.

Sanchez plays forward for her soccer club, Tucson Soccer Academy. The senior also played soccer for her high-school team, the Salpointe Catholic High School Lancers. She finished her last game with the Lancers on Feb. 7, and has led them as the team's captain since she was a junior. Her coach also named her the team's Most Valuable Player.

Sanchez helped the Lancers make it to the quarterfinals and she finished her season with 14 goals and three assists, according to


Aside from excelling in soccer, Sanchez is maintaining a 4.0 grade point average in school. The scholar-athlete is scheduled to graduate in May. Although she doesn't yet know what degree to purse in college, her goal is to maintain a high grade point average.

Sanchez's mother, Christine Aguon Sanchez, is proud of what her daughter has accomplished both in school and in soccer.

"I'm excited for her," the former Dededo resident said via telephone from Tucson. "It's an opportunity for her to get an education while doing something she loves."

Bryanna Sanchez would like to visit Guam again. The last time she visited the island was in 2004. She said that she misses her family, the big parties and her maternal grandparents: Pedro and Teresita Aguon.

Bryanna Sanchez is very thankful for everything that her parents, Christine and Brandon Sanchez, have done for her. She is also very thankful for the rest of her family and friends.

"I'm very proud of her," her mom said. "Not only is she an athlete, but she's a Salpointe scholar, which means she's been a 4.0 student throughout her high school."

When asked what advice she would give to students who dream of playing soccer in college, Bryanna Sanchez said, "Don't take mental breaks if you feel like it's too hard. You should just persevere and remember your ultimate goal at the end of the day. Don't let other obstacles get in the way of that."

Kofa girls fall to Salpointe Catholic in first round

Over the course of the regular season, the Kofa girls soccer team was just plain quicker and better up top than any team it faced.

But on Tuesday in the first round of the Division II playoffs, the No. 8 Kings finally met a team in No. 9 Salpointe Catholic that could neutralize their explosive attack.

The result was a 2-1 loss at Irv Pallack Field, the fourth time in five years the Kings have been eliminated in the first round at state.

“I think we were a little surprised by their speed,” Kofa coach Philip Coverson said. “They’re a good team. There’s a reason why they’re ranked No. 9 in the state.”

All regular season long, the Kings feasted on opponents' backlines. When they weren’t scoring on free kicks or set pieces, they were getting out in the open field and creating chances that way. They outscored their opposition 92-9 en route to a 12-0 record and a section title.

On Tuesday, though, the Kings mustered very few scoring opportunities. Typical goal-scorers such as junior Cinthya Samaniego and sophomore Aileen Vazquez, both great in the open field, didn’t have as much room to operate as normal against the Lancers’ backline.

Kofa was outshot 11-4.

“I feel like we had our moments, but I feel like out of possession they dominated us throughout everywhere,” Kofa senior midfielder Leticia Casillas said. “They had better movement, us I see individual players move. Everyone gives it their heart, don’t get me wrong, but our movement off the ball is really slow.”

While Tuesday marked Kofa’s fifth consecutive playoff appearance, it was the Lancers’ first in five years.

Apparently butterflies weren’t an issue for the visitors, because Salpointe Catholic (10-2-1 overall) needed just six minutes to take an early 1-0 lead on a goal by sophomore Rachel Kinnison.

Kofa, which trailed just twice all regular season, responded with less than six minutes to play in the half after Vazquez was taken out in the box by Salpointe Catholic goalie Paloma Mars while chasing down a through ball.

Mars received a yellow card, and Casillas converted the ensuing penalty kick to tie the game at 1-1.

“The girls didn’t panic (after falling behind 1-0), and we started pressuring a little bit more late in the first half and that’s how we got that penalty kick,” Coverson said.

But that was one of the few times all game that Kofa got behind Salpointe Catholic’s backline.

“We have some speed in the back,” Salpointe Catholic coach Becky Barry said. “In Tucson, we play some teams that have some quick players up top as well. I think our backline stayed pretty organized. But Kofa’s a good side. They played well tonight.”

Midway through the second half, the Lancers retook the lead for good when freshman Lauren Bollinger scored on a shot from inside the box. Bollinger’s strike hit the post and rolled in before Kofa’s goalie — who dove on the shot — could corral it.

The Lancers outshot Kofa 7-1 over the final 40 minutes, with Kofa’s only real opportunity coming on a two vs. one breakaway that was wasted.


Salpointe Athletic Commitment Celebration for Student-Athletes to Play at College Level

WHAT: Salpointe is hosting an Athletic Commitment Celebration recognizing Salpointe student-athletes who have made a commitment to play their sport at the college level.

WHEN:  Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 2:45 p.m.

WHERE:  Salpointe Catholic High School Gymnasium; 1545 E. Copper Street

EVENT:   The Athletic Commitment Celebration is a time to commend the academic and athletic successes of Salpointe students who will continue their athletic endeavors at the college level. The celebration is open to the public and media is welcome.  In alphabetical order, the following 12 students have committed to play sports at the college level:

Caroline Amos, Yale University (Tennis)
Taylor Anderson, Pima Community College (Soccer)
Andrew Bianchi, Pima Community College (Soccer)
Allison Curtis, Central Michigan University (Softball)
Delfina Morales, Trinity University (Softball)
Jiovani “Jio” Orozco, University of Arizona (Baseball)
Dominique “Nique” Payne, Phoenix College (Softball)
Taylor Powell, Northern Arizona University (Football)
Bryanna Sanchez, Metropolitan State University of Denver (Soccer)
Donny Sands, University of New Mexico (Baseball)
Annie Scarangella, Brown University (Softball)
Nathan Thomas, United States Air Force Academy (Cross Country and Track)

About Salpointe Catholic High School:
Salpointe’s holistic, college-preparatory curriculum offers not only a premier STEM program, but also award-winning fine and performing arts, Humanities, theology, competitive athletics and wide-ranging co-curricular activities. Founded in 1950, Salpointe is a Catholic, Carmelite, college-preparatory high school enrolling 1,082 students. Salpointe is accredited by the Western Catholic Educational Association and accredited as a college-preparatory school by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. 

Salpointe celebrates STEM center opening
Salpointe Catholic High School celebrated the opening of the Cracchiolo Family Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Center last week.

The 8,000 square-foot building was part of a $12 million capital campaign that also funded a new athletics complex and student center.

The STEM center focuses on engineering, robotics and biotechnology and includes a 3D printer, a biomedical lab, classrooms and outdoor work spaces.

Jason Hastings, a teacher and Salpointe’s department chair for career and technical education, said students have already started using the center to design and build robots.

“Students are really exposed to a career in engineering,” Hastings said. “They’re not just reading and hearing, they get to see, feel and touch what engineers do.”

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild to Tour Salpointe's One-of-a-Kind STEM Center

Salpointe Catholic High School is proud to announce the opening of the new 8,000 square-foot Cracchiolo Family Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Center featuring indoor and outdoor learning spaces. This comprehensive, hands-on learning facility offers state-of-the-art equipment and software, giving thousands of Salpointe students a head start and solid foundation in the STEM disciplines.

Mayor Rothschild plans to tour the Salpointe STEM Center to learn about this one-of-a-kind facility in Southern Arizona that will educate the future workforce, helping to fill a critical gap in the needs of Tucson-based employers in the engineering, science and technology fields.

Nearly 50% of Salpointe graduates go on to attend the University of Arizona, which boasts a phenomenal engineering program and partnership with the Salpointe STEM curriculum.

“Many graduates want to stay in Tucson. This is a great place to live. But they need a job, and, often, they can find one in larger cities... Then, they’re off building careers and lives in other cities and are probably lost to us,” said Mayor Rothschild. “But if they can find a way into the workplace here, we all win. We keep top talent in our community. They get to stay in a city they love.”

WHAT: Tour of one-of-a-kind Salpointe STEM Center with Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild

WHEN:  11 a.m., Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WHERE:  Salpointe Catholic High School, STEM Center

1545 E. Copper Street, for easy access please enter through the Glenn Street
  entrance between Mountain and Cherry               

About Salpointe Catholic High School:
Salpointe’s holistic, college-preparatory curriculum offers not only a premier STEM program, but also award-winning fine and performing arts, Humanities, theology, competitive athletics and wide-ranging co-curricular activities. Founded in 1950, Salpointe is a Catholic, Carmelite, college-preparatory high school enrolling 1,082 students. Salpointe is accredited by the Western Catholic Educational Association and accredited as a college-preparatory school by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. 

MLK Basketball Classic Ends in a Thriller at McKale Center

Thriller at McKale - Salpointe edges Buena in overtime

The last of six games McKale Center hosted Monday in the annual MLK Classic was the most dramatic, with big shots, overtime, blood on the floor, and a missed free-throw at the buzzer that would have forced a second extra session.

But the second of Cody Shear’s free throws bounced off the front of the iron, preserving a 56-55 win for Salpointe Catholic.

“We played really hard and made a couple of mistakes the last couple of possessions,” Buena head coach Dave Glasgow said. “The three was open but it wasn’t what we needed, then we fouled on the sidelines.”

With the game tied at 54-54 Rod Springer missed a three, and on the other end, Jalen Holman was called for a block, 30 feet from the basket, sending Salpointe’s Cameron Miller to the line with 7.7 seconds left. He made both and Springer pushed the other way. His try for the three and the win came off the iron, into the arms of 5-foot-7 Cody Shear, who tried to feed Devin Rottweiler under the basket as time expired. But as the P.A. announcer declared Salpointe the winner and the Lancers Salpointe stormed off the court in victory, a foul was called on the pass, sending Shear to the line for a 1-and-1. With 0.2 seconds put back on the clock, he made the front end, but after a Lancer time out to ice him, Shear left the second on the front of the rim.

But Buena had chances long before that. A minute earlier, a pair of Springer free-throws put the Colts up 54-51, but Salpointe’s top shooter, 6-foot-4 Ethan Parkhurst got sufficient room to knock down his third three and knot it up at 54-54.

In his celebration, Parkhurst threw his hands up in the air and caught Buena’s Jalen Holman, who was closing out on the play, in the mouth, causing the Colt junior to drip blood all over the home hardwood of the nation’s seventh-ranked college basketball team.

The Buena bench wanted a technical foul, but the official preferred instead to have Parkhurst shake Holman’s hand in apology. Holman’s bloody hand was in no condition for a handshake and after a near 10-minute delay to clean up the court and Holman, play ensued.

In regulation, Buena rallied from an 8-point deficit to take a 47-44 lead with 2:30 to play, and after falling behind by one, Springer hit a floater off the dribble to put the Colts up one with 36 seconds left.

Salpointe made one of two free-throws to tie it, but in trying to hold for the last shot, Springer was called for a 5-second call, that gave the Lancers the last chance to avoid overtime.

Buena started the game on a 6-0 run, but the rest of the half belonged to Salpointe, as the Lancers went to the half up 27-20.

Buena stormed back in the third quarter and took its first lead since the first quarter when Springer hit Riley Adams for a layup in transition that made it 40-39 with 6:38 to play.

“We started attacking the rim and not settling for the first available jumper,” Glasgow said.

Springer led all scorers with 19 and made all eight of his second-half free-throws. Holman scored 13, nine of them on 3-pointers from the left corner in the first half and Adams scored eight.

Parkhurst’s 14 led Salpointe, trailed by Miller with 13.



Soccer coach Wolfgang Weber notches 600th career win

Every game, every day has felt new over the course of 710 games Wolfgang Weber led Tucson Salpointe Catholic's boys soccer team since its inception in 1982.

But Wednesday stood out like none other in the legendary coach's career.

Salpointe defeated Douglas 1-0, giving Weber his 600th all-time win.

Midfielder Bernardo Rebeil was credited for his tireless play in the victory.

Weber is now 600-93-17 in his career.

"If someone would have told me in 1982 that in 33 years we would have played over 700 games and win 85 percent of those games, I would have dismissed this as a crazy fantasy," Weber wrote in an email. "I just have been very fortunate to be able to start this program and work at Salpointe Catholic High School, enjoy their support and be guided by their values for amounts to about almost half of my life."

Weber credits his coaching staff and all of the players who competed for him in 33 years.

"While the kids are aware of the program's history, the games are not any different from any other game," he said. "Each game and each opponent requires our full attention and our best possible effort with the goal of qualifying for the state tournament."


Catholic Schools Week Recognizing faith, academics and service

The New Vision

During the week of Jan. 25-31, 25 schools in the Diocese of Tucson will be celebrating Catholic Schools Week 2015.
The theme this year is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”  Diocesan elementary and high schools in Tucson, Yuma, Nogales, Casa Grande, Douglas, San Carlos and Sierra Vista will celebrate the week with Masses, open houses and activities for students, families and school faculty and staff.
The Diocese’s oldest school is San Xavier Mission School, which celebrated its 150th anniversary this past November.  San Miguel High School is the newest, having opened in 2004.
A total of 6,749 students attend Catholic schools within the Diocese- 4,641 at the elementary school level and 2,108 at the secondary school level. The total number is up from 6,430 students in 2013-14.
The cost of education for Catholic schools may be a concern for some families but financial assistance is available for all, thanks in part to the Arizona Private School Tuition Tax Credit. Taxpayers can donate up to $2,106 if filing jointly and $1,053 if filing singly.

Use the #CSW15 hashtag and join others celebrating Catholic Schools Week in conversations on Facebook and Twitter.

Catholic Schools Week events include:
Salpointe Catholic High School, Tucson
The largest school in the Diocese begins the week with the Seton Award Breakfast on Tuesday, Jan. 27. Salpointe officials established the Seton Award in 1992.  It is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to Catholic education in the Diocese. The 2014 Seton Award winner is David Keller, who has served in the Diocese since 2005.  Keller currently serves as President of St. Augustine Catholic High School and Principal of Our Mother of Sorrows School. A Lancer Student Recognition Awards Breakfast will be held Wednesday, Jan. 28. On Friday, Jan. 30, Salpointe leaders will formally open the Sayre Stevens Student Center, the Cracchiolo Family Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Center and the Michael Geddes Family Salpointe Athletic Complex with a ribbon cutting and dedication at 5 p.m.

Salpointe’s Wolfgang Weber nearing 600 wins

1982- present (597-92-17)

2014-15 (8-2-1)

State Championships
1985: 5A
1986: 5A
1996: 5A
2004: 5A
2012: D-II
2013: D-II

Salpointe Schedule
Sahuaro: Tuesday, Jan. 6
at Desert View: Thursday, Jan. 8
Brophy: Saturday, Jan. 10
Cienega: Monday, Jan. 12
Douglas: Wednesday, Jan. 14

Jamarye Joiner to play in Adidas Freshman All-American Bowl

Salpointe freshman receiver Jamarye Joiner will be joining Ironwood Ridge freshman defensive end Brayden Smith at the Adidas Freshman All-American Bowl on Jan. 3 in San Antonio. Goodyear tackle Max Wilhite will also be playing in the game.

Joiner is the Southern Arizona Freshman of the Year.

The game will be played at Saint Mary’s Hall in San Antonio immediately following the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and is powered by Football University.

Salpointe's Justin Holt named to US Army All-Combine Team

Justin Holt, Salpointe Catholic: A big-body kid that can get small, the Arizona standout has a University of Arizona offer and showed why as he typically left offensive linemen in their stance has he blew by them.

“Justin ran a 5.3 in the 40 and his shuttle was a 4.7,” his father Julius Holt wrote me. “That’s pretty good after measuring in at 6’2 1/2 300 lbs and running in the cold and rain. He’s looking pretty impressive. One of the better 40 for linemen. It’s wet and cold.”


Salpointe girls earn top seed at Brandon Bean soccer invite

Tucson Salpointe improved to 3-0 at the preseason Brandon Bean Kickoff Classic with a 2-0 win over Marana Mountain View on Wednesday night at home. The championship rounds will take place at Salpointe but group play was held at various schools in Southern Arizona.

With the loss, Mountain View's record stands at 0-2-1. The Mountain Lions earned a 4-seed heading into bracket play on Thursday night where they will take on No. 3 Tucson Sabino at 3:30 pm.

No. 1 Salpointe will play their first bracket game on Friday afternoon against an undetermined opponent.

Senior Bryanna Sanchez scored unassisted in the 10th minute and again in the 38th for the 2-0 margin over Mountain View. Sanchez is headed to Metropolitan State of Denver next year but there is a lot she wants to accomplish before she leaves Salpointe.

"When I saw coach (Becky) Barry was going to be our new coach I knew what to expect from club," said Sanchez. "I expected discipline, hard work and dedication and more hours working on our game than I ever did my previous three years here.

"We have almost everyone returning and a lot of great freshmen. We are really solid this year and my job is to set an example and play 100 percent with no mental lapses. I want to set a standard that will be here when I'm gone."

Barry was Salpointe's MVP in 2005 before moving over to play for the University of Arizona. She is now the Youth Academy Director for the Tucson Soccer Academy and replaced longtime Lancer coach Dave Peron this winter.

Joining her on the coaching staff is former Arizona coach Lisa Fraser.

Kelly Kearns is in her second year at Mountain View. As a player, she led Salpointe to back-to-back state championships in 1998 and 1999 before going to Pima. She now plays for TSAFC of the Women's Premier Soccer League and earned all-conference honors two years in a row.

There are only three seniors on Mountain View's roster with Kiley Hancock being the obvious leader of the squad.

"We are a young team," explained Kearns. "We have a lot of potential for growth and they are all like little sponges taking in so much information. Salpointe is a good team and we didn’t take advantage of the few opportunities we had but they stayed strong. They showed what they could do last night when they came back and tied Sabino in the final moments.

Sabino and Mountain View played to a 1-1 tie and, as mentioned before, will play each other again in bracket play.

The Brandon Bean Classic features both boys and girls with the championship matches scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 6.


Salpointe football player aids family on interstate

A family spent Thanksgiving Day grateful for the heroic efforts of Tucson Salpointe Catholic junior defensive lineman Justin Holt being there to help them in their time of need.

On Wednesday, on their way to visit family in Southern California and to take an unofficial football recruiting trip to UCLA, Julius Holt and his son witnessed on Interstate 8 an Expedition, pulling a 29-foot trailer, overturn.

"Without hesitation my Justin jumped out of our vehicle and ran to pull the three people out to safety with the aid of others and myself," Julius posted to me on my Facebook page with photos of the overturned trailer. "He showed courage, poise, concern and strength, supporting the grandmother, the last person in the vehicle until she was ready to be pulled from the wreckage.

"The grandmother put her arms around Justin's neck and he lifted her to safety. God is good because all three passengers were fine with a few minor injuries. The mother, son and grandmother praised Justin for this heroic act. Be blessed and safe this holiday season everyone. Very proud of our son."

Holt, 6-foot-2, 290 pounds, is one of the more coveted 2016 football players in the state. He had 61 unassisted tackles, 53 assisted and three sacks last season.

"I was just surprised to see such a bad wreck, so I just wanted to make sure those people were all right," Justin Holt said.

Justin Holt already has a scholarship offer from the University of Arizona, where his father played football.

"I think it's great that any young kid would go out and want to help others in desperate need. He put others ahead of himself," Salpointe coach Dennis Bene said.

Winter sports kick off

For the first time in a decade, Thanksgiving week won’t feature a Southern Arizona big-school football team playing for a state championship.

But there will be a pretty hearty serving of basketball, along with soccer and wrestling on the side.

The Cienega and Sahuarita football teams both lost in the state semifinals last week, putting an end to the fall sports season and sending us straight into winter sports this week with several local tournaments. The highlight event will be the Salpointe Tipoff Classic that begins today and features some of the area’s top boys basketball teams.

Here’s a look at what to watch:


Girls soccer: Rio Rico and Pueblo both reached the Division III state tournament last season and will open up the season against each other today Panther Soccer Tournament hosted by Amphitheater. The match is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Amphi.

The event features 16 girls teams and 15 boys teams and runs through Saturday. The Brandon Bean Kickoff Classic hosted by Salpointe, which is normally held this week, begins next Monday instead.


Wrestling: Desert View, Sunnyside and Tucson square off Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at Cienega in a four-team meet to start out the wrestling season. The host Bobcats finished in a tie as Division II’s state runner-up while Sunnyside finished second in Division I.

Blue Devils senior Juaquin Olivas will be the lone defending champion at the meet but Cienega seniors R.J. Brown and Andrew Vera were both individual runners-up last year.


Girls basketball: Junior forward Sydney Harden has led Sahuaro in scoring each of the last two years and is sure to do the same this season. Harden and the Cougars take on Rio Rico on Wednesday at 1 p.m. in the 10-team Boyd Baker Tipoff Classic hosted by Sahuaro, which won the tournament last year.

Pool play resumes Friday, followed by bracket play Saturday with the championship game scheduled for 4 p.m.


Boys basketball: Two years removed from reaching the state finals, Salpointe senior Jaylyn Juan and the Lancers kick off their season at 6:30 p.m., against Amphitheater in pool play of the Salpointe Tipoff Classic.

The Lancers, who reached the quarterfinals last year, will surely be one of the teams to watch when bracket play begins Friday. Catalina Foothills, Cholla, Ironwood Ridge, Nogales, Rincon/University and Sunnyside are the other local teams in the event.

The semifinal games are scheduled for 6:30 and 8 p.m. on Friday and the championship game will be Saturday at 8 p.m.

Salpointe’s Yash Parikh wins at Jeff Myers Memorial Jr. Tennis Masters

Salpointe junior Yash Parikh defeated Gregory Anderson of Tucson 1-6; 6-4; 6-2 to capture the Boy’s 18 Singles title at the Jeff Myers Memorial Jr. Masters held in Scottsdale last week.

Parikh was the AIA Division II state singles champion last year while competing for Salpointe. Anderson was the top seed in the tournament and Parikh was seeded fifth. Anderson is a TCU commit.

Harsh Parikh is the younger brother of Yash Parikh and he is in eighth grade. He defeated Niroop Vallabhaneni of Paradise Valley after Vallabhaneni retired due to an injury. In addition, Green Fields freshman Jamie Schroer came in second in the Girl’s 16 Singles competition.

Boys 18 Singles
(5) Yash Parikh (Salpointe) d. (1) Gregory Anderson (Tucson) 1-6; 6-4; 6-2

Arizona High School Division II Swimming and Diving Championships

Salpointe Catholic claimed the opening 200 medley relay, with Jiaying Brust, Teagan McGinnis, Julie Turk and Madeline Wallen touching in 1:53.94. The Campo Verde quartet of Katrina Hage, Miler-Anne Latinovich, Mya White and Ellinore Duncan just edged Verrado’s Sieara Kling, Olivia Bender, Victoria Warrum and Shelby Lax for second, 1:55.94 to 1:55.95.

Salpointe Catholic closed out the meet the same way they started it, with a relay victory. Julie Turk, Haley Mattingly, Lexi Rothe and Teagan McGinnis swam a 3:41.03 to bring home the state title ahead of Catalina Foothills’ Jenna Vaaler, Ali Cox, Gianna Badillo and Hannah Orbach-Mandel (3:42.48). Sabino’s Brittany Roesly, Margaret Oliver, Megan Birch and Taylor Nations rounded out the top three in 3:44.57.

Salpointe Catholic’s Steven Rothe and Bourgade Catholic’s Zabric Kline treated the crowd to a thrilling finish in the 100 fly, as Kline just out-touched Rothe at the wall, 52.77 to 52.80. Jaxton Peterson of Prescott got to the wall third in 53.82.

Lancer volleyball: Division II state quarterfinals

No. 5 Salpointe Catholic 3, No. 12 Glendale Deer Valley 2: At Salpointe, the host Lancers avoided a first-round upset with the help of a combined 28 kills from Carly Lowry and McKenna Sarabia and held on for a five-set victory (25-23, 16-25, 25-20, 22-25, 15-11).

The final set saw Deer Valley jump out to a 5-1 lead before coach Heather Moore-Martin called a timeout to regroup and Salpointe went on to win from there.

Salpointe (15-3) travels to play No. 4 Scottsdale Notre Dame on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Lady Lancer Golf Places 3rd in Division II State Championship

Led by freshman Haylin Harris, Salpointe Catholic placed third for the second straight year, three strokes behind Sahuaro. Harris, who shot a 2-over 74 Monday, birdied the final hole to edge Hong for second place and finish with a 2-under 70 in the final round.

“It’s really pretty incredible, and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my team and my coaches,” said Harris, the Lancers’ lone representative in the top 10. “I can’t wait for next year because I think our team is definitely going to be improved, and we’re going to be ready to win.”

Tucson-area golfers in good shape at state

Golfers from Southern Arizona are atop both the girls and boys leaderboards heading into today’s final rounds of the Division II state championships in Phoenix.

Canyon del Oro senior Chris Meyers was one of only two golfers to finish the first round under par. The Stanford commit shot a 4-under 68 Monday at Aguila Golf Course as Salpointe Catholic’s Trevor Werbylo finished one shot behind in second place with a 69.

Salpointe’s girls finished the first round one stroke behind Sahuaro with a 316 total. The Lancers also come into the second round with three individuals in the field’s top 10, including freshman Haylin Harris, who shot a 2-over 74 and is in fourth place.

Southern Arizona well-represented in volleyball state tournament
No. 5 Salpointe Catholic

First-round opponent: No. 12 Glendale Deer Valley (14-3)

Postseason resume: The Lancers (14-3) are in the state tournament for the fifth straight year and are hosting for the first time since 2010, when they were the No. 8 seed. That was also the last time Salpointe advanced beyond the first round.

Road to the finals: Don’t be fooled by the rankings — the Lancers can’t get caught looking past Deer Valley tonight. The Skyhawks took down Foothills in a tournament match two weeks ago — the same Falcons side that beat Salpointe in four sets a week later.

Lancers headed to playoffs to defend state championship

HS football: Salpointe Catholic 33, Tucson 14

Salpointe Catholic, last year's Division II state champion, is headed back to the playoffs for a chance to defend its title. The Lancers pulled away to beat Tucson on Friday after Badgers' starting quarterback Jorge Flores left the game with a leg injury. With no Flores, the Lancers focused on the run and held Tucson to seven second-half points. Salpointe will play in the postseason for the fifth straight year.

Highlight reel: After Salpointe running back Taylor Powell fumbled near the end zone, offensive lineman Eric Asato picked it up for his first touchdown.

Player of the game: Lancers running back Dominic Salaz had 150 rushing yards and finished off the Badgers with two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

By the numbers: 8. For the seventh consecutive season Salpointe Catholic has won at least eight games in a season.

He said it: "It feels a little different than last season but we're ready for playoffs and we're happy we got the win today." – Powell


Arizona football: True freshman Cam Denson ready to shine at corner

While at Salpointe Catholic High School, Cam Denson was a star in every phase of the game. When he wasn't running routes, he was running the read-option. When he was on defense, he was picking balls off like nobody's business. After forcing a punt, he'd be running those kicks back to the house.

But now Denson finds himself exclusively as a cornerback for the Arizona Wildcats, and after spending the last three months solely on the defensive side of the ball, he's now poised to pick up a ton of playing time in the weeks to come.

"They say about halfway through the season a freshman isn't still a freshman, but they are," head coach Rich Rodriguez said on Wednesday. "Unless you've played quite a bit, and he's been playing more recently."

Denson played a lot during the game against UTSA early in the season, which was the first step in preparing him for these next several weeks.

"The more you play, the more you get familiar with the game," Denson explained. "The more you can trust yourself and gain confidence so playing 95 plays in that game gave me a lot of confidence and helped me for the next game to prepare."

"It's good to get in the flow of the game," he continued. "You just feel the game more, and you just get a better feeling for the game, and I'm excited for it."

With the injury to Arizona's second corner Jarvis McCall during the Washington State game, Denson got into that game early and got more plays than what he or any of us are used to seeing.

"It was kind of shocking to me because you never want one of your players to go down like that," Denson said. "Just being thrown in there out of the blue was just shocking to me, but I prepared myself during the week. When the other team gets into the cadence, you can't be mind-shocked out there. You just gotta be prepared for whatever they're going to do and I wasn't in an unfamiliar position."

"He's had a good week of practice from what I've seen," Rodriguez continued. "And if he's pressed into duty, he'll compete."

During the game against WSU, Denson was able to pick off his first career college pass.

"It was a back-shoulder ball," Denson explained. "We practice that in practice and they complete it on me a lot of times in practice so I couldn't let it be completed in the game. I turned around, and coach always says 'come out of your break', and I turned around and the ball was right there and just caught it."

"People that I didn't know still had my number we're texting me good pick, good pick. It was crazy."

Catching that ball kind of took Denson back a little bit to his receiver-playing days last year at Salpointe, and with all that experience he has catching the ball, it wasn't a huge thing for him.

"Coming from being a receiver, you know what the receiver's trying to do, and what he wants to do to get you off-balance and stuff like that," he explained. "So me playing receiver and having familiarity with the position helps me look for what they're trying to do."

When the receiving corps for this year started to shake out, it was sort of obvious that if Denson was going to play his true freshman year and contribute right away, he would have to make the move to play exclusively defense.

"Cam, to his credit, even when we recruited him, didn't really care which way he was going to play, he just wanted to play," coach Rodriguez explained. "He's just a competitor, and one thing about him being a wide receiver as well is he's got great ball skills, and we saw that last week with the pick. If the ball's there, he's going to catch it."

"I get to play, so anytime you get to play you have to enjoy it and embrace the feeling," Denson said of playing only defense. "Just playing strictly corner is good for me because I'm on the field, and I just enjoy every play I get to go out and compete."

"We moved him early enough so he was getting all his reps in camp," Rodriguez added. "He played both in high school, and I think a lot of people including us recruited him with that in mind. With our need at corner, we thought we needed to have him start over there and it was a good move because obviously he's playing a lot right now."

"Cam committed early, and we had (Cayleb Jones, DaVonte' Neal, etc.) on there, so (WR coach) Tony Dews was the happiest guy on the staff. He had so many wide receivers and we were so deep right there."

But Cam misses getting the ball on a regular basis.

"In high school you got the ball a lot, but that's the only thing that's difficult not playing receiver."

Well, playing cornerback in a pass-happy league like the Pac-12, Cam Denson will get his chances to get the ball a lot. And with Jarvis McCall struggling and now injured, look for Denson to assume a larger role starting this week against UCLA.

"It was a back-shoulder ball," Denson explained. "We practice that in practice and they complete it on me a lot of times in practice so I couldn't let it be completed in the game. I turned around, and coach always says 'come out of your break', and I turned around and the ball was right there and just caught it."

"People that I didn't know still had my number we're texting me good pick, good pick. It was crazy."

Catching that ball kind of took Denson back a little bit to his receiver-playing days last year at Salpointe, and with all that experience he has catching the ball, it wasn't a huge thing for him.

"Coming from being a receiver, you know what the receiver's trying to do, and what he wants to do to get you off-balance and stuff like that," he explained. "So me playing receiver and having familiarity with the position helps me look for what they're trying to do."

When the receiving corps for this year started to shake out, it was sort of obvious that if Denson was going to play his true freshman year and contribute right away, he would have to make the move to play exclusively defense.

"Cam, to his credit, even when we recruited him, didn't really care which way he was going to play, he just wanted to play," coach Rodriguez explained. "He's just a competitor, and one thing about him being a wide receiver as well is he's got great ball skills, and we saw that last week with the pick. If the ball's there, he's going to catch it."

"I get to play, so anytime you get to play you have to enjoy it and embrace the feeling," Denson said of playing only defense. "Just playing strictly corner is good for me because I'm on the field, and I just enjoy every play I get to go out and compete."

"We moved him early enough so he was getting all his reps in camp," Rodriguez added. "He played both in high school, and I think a lot of people including us recruited him with that in mind. With our need at corner, we thought we needed to have him start over there and it was a good move because obviously he's playing a lot right now."

"Cam committed early, and we had (Cayleb Jones, DaVonte' Neal, etc.) on there, so (WR coach) Tony Dews was the happiest guy on the staff. He had so many wide receivers and we were so deep right there."

But Cam misses getting the ball on a regular basis.

"In high school you got the ball a lot, but that's the only thing that's difficult not playing receiver."

Well, playing cornerback in a pass-happy league like the Pac-12, Cam Denson will get his chances to get the ball a lot. And with Jarvis McCall struggling and now injured, look for Denson to assume a larger role starting this week against UCLA.


Lancer cross country preps for state qualifying sectional

Nathan Thomas enjoyed the fast pace of the Marana High School’s cross-country course two weeks ago, when he took part in the Valerie McGregor Rattler Invitational.

The Salpointe Catholic senior is eager to run the same 3-mile route Saturday morning, but this time he’s hoping to come out a winner.

Thomas, who has the top 5,000-meter time in Division II by four seconds, was a runner-up in the boys seeded race at the Rattler Invitational. His time of 15 minutes, 8.30 seconds was second, behind Rio Rico’s Carlos Villarreal, a favorite to win the Division III championship.

The two will be back at Marana on Saturday for the state-qualifying sectional meets beginning at 8:15 a.m. This time, the two will be in separate races. The Star caught up with Thomas to learn more about his love of running.

Early start, late beginning

Thomas started distance running as a fifth-grader, but didn’t get serious about cross-country until his sophomore year of high school. For most, taking on cross-country midway through high school might make it difficult to get to the level where Thomas is, but he thanks the people around him for his training.

“I had the right resources, and they really helped me by telling me what I should be doing,” he said.

Thomas hopes a strong performance this weekend can pave the way for a run at the state championship. He finished fifth in 15:52.40 at sectionals last year, and was third at state in 15:52.19, which was 26 seconds behind the winner.

“It’s exciting when you see them grow into a strong runner and see when the hard work does pay off,” Salpointe coach Malisa Cariño said. “That’s always such a great pleasure for a coach to see an athlete work really hard and actually see the benefits of it.”

Always in for a surprise

Cross-country can take runners on a wide range of terrains. Whether it be grass, gravel, asphalt or sand, runners find themselves trekking over something different every race.

That’s why Thomas enjoys the sport. Plus, there’s the longevity factor: Distance running is something he can do the rest of his life, even after he stops competing.

California dreaming

Salpointe’s cross-country team participated in the prestigious Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, California, earlier this season. Thomas said the trip was the highlight of his senior year because of the impact it made both on and off the course.

Thomas said he enjoyed the level of competition and racing against runners from all over the country. Aside from the race, the team got to bond and enjoy a trip not many teams get to experience.

“We got to do a lot of sightseeing, and we had a lot of fun spending quality time together,” Thomas said. “We raced in an amazing race that was flat and fast. It was truly a remarkable experience, none like I’ve ever had before.”

Lancers 'hitting stride' heading down the stretch

A strong tournament performance this past weekend has Salpointe Catholic’s girls volleyball team poised for a strong finish and a postseason run.

The Lancers, ranked second in Division II, beat Sahuaro 2-1 (21-25, 25-22, 15-6) on Saturday to complete a perfect 7-0 campaign in Mountain View’s two-day Lion’s Den Invitational, which featured 24 teams.

With Monday night’s 3-1 win at Sabino, Salpointe (11-1) has now won eight straight non-tournament matches since losing in three sets at top-ranking Ironwood Ridge on Sept. 11.

With six matches to go, second-year coach Heather Moore-Martin and the Lancers aren’t only hoping to reach next month’s state tournament, but they’re hoping to advance beyond the first round for the first time since 2010.

“I think we’re just right now getting good,” said Moore-Martin, who coached Catalina’s boys team to state titles in 2010 and 2011 and led the girls to the finals in 2011. “It took us a while to figure out where everyone was going to fit in to the lineup and as a team.

“Now we’re hitting our stride a little bit and feeling more comfortable with our surroundings and being confident.”

Salpointe has played in tournaments each of the last three weekends, including the Beach City Invitational in La Jolla, California, at the end of September. Although the Lancers went 0-4, they learned a lot and helped the Lancers raise their level of play, Moore-Martin said.

“It was rough, but it was great for the girls to go over there and see a different style of play,” she said. “Even though we lost all those matches they didn’t let it bring them down.”

Instead, it helped Salpointe cruise through the Lion’s Den tournament, dropping just two sets through seven matches.

Junior outside hitter Carly Lowry, who was named the tournament MVP, has provided the offensive spark for an experienced Lancers bunch, with six seniors on the roster. Senior middle blockers Juliana Grenier (6-foot) and Anne Coyle (5-11) have combined for 32 blocks.

“She’s always been a pretty talented passer and defender but her attack has really come a long way,” Moore-Martin said about Lowry. “We’ve worked hard to make some technical changes in her mechanics and she’s bought into it.”

Lowry, who leads the team with 3.4 kills per set, credits the experience at the Beach City Invitational for helping her and freshman setter Peyton Lewis get on the same page. The already-experienced Lewis was new to the team but wasted little time etching out a starting spot with her talent. She’s averaging 7.5 assists per set.

“It was tricky at first; we didn’t really know each other,” Lowry said. “It really changed her outlook on what I could do and I saw what she could do against tougher competition. We began to trust each other a lot more.”


Salpointe teacher rocks the microphone on game day

Every week fans pour into football stadiums across the country, set to take in 48 minutes of action under the Friday night lights. Many times fans are expected to volunteer during the game. In this week's "Off the Gridiron" feature, Richie Melby catches up with a Salpointe Catholic teacher who is forced to pay attention to the contest more than anyone.

"It was complete chaos. I had no idea (what I was doing), no training and we just kind of did it on the fly."

Steve Perri has been the voice of Salpointe Catholic football for more than a decade. He still remembers his first time in the booth, doing it "on the fly" as he described it. But now he has a much better game-plan.

"I have a spotter with me and our clock guy helps me," he said. "We've been doing it for awhile.

"the toughest part, besides name pronunciations which I have to get before the game, is seeing our numbers on those black uniforms. It's tough to see sometimes."

Uniform complications aside, Perri calls games as smooth as a Journey song, pun intended. The Salpointe teacher will continue manning the microphone as he watches his students perform under the lights in the city.

"Last year was unbelievable," he recalled of the Lancers state championship season. "This year we hope the team does just as well.

"Watching the kids we get to teach over there (at the school) come over here and play every Friday night is the best part."

Salpointe Football Announces Blackout Game Benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project

Salpointe Football Announces Blackout Game Benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project

Tucson, Ariz., September 29, 2014— Salpointe Catholic High School’s varsity football team will raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) by sponsoring a “blackout” game on Friday, October 10 versus Rincon High School. Starting Thursday, October 2 at the varsity home game against Mountain View football players will provide black t-shirts for a $10 donation going directly to WWP. Donations will support a full range of programs and services for injured veterans and their families. Salpointe students, parents and fans will wear the shirts at the October 10 game to create a blackout in the stadium.

 “My brother is a Captain in the Marine Corps and as part of the military family, when one of our soldiers is wounded in action, it affects each of us.  Every American is indebted to these brave men and women. This effort to help the Wounded Warrior Project is our football team’s way of honoring these heroic men and women and say a huge thanks,” said Jake Ksiazek, Junior linebacker and a team captain.

“The Salpointe football program is humbled for the opportunity to honor and support the men and women that have sacrificed so much on our behalf. They truly are heroes.  I believe our entire program is blessed to have an opportunity to give thanks on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project,” said Dennis Bene, Varsity Football Head Coach.

Over 47,000 servicemen and women have been injured in the recent military conflicts.  In addition to the physical wounds, it is estimated as many as 400,000 service members live with the invisible wounds of war including combat-related stress, major depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  Another 320,000 are believed to have experienced a traumatic brain injury while on deployment.  WWP’s 18 programs and services are uniquely structured to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowerment and engagement.

For more information about the fundraising effort or to donate to the Salpointe collection for WWP, contact Dennis Bene at 547-4445.

Frosh Joiner subs at QB, keeps Salpointe unbeaten

Getting its 19th straight win wasn’t going to be easy for Salpointe Catholic.

The No. 1 team in the Star’s power poll and defending state champion had to come up to the Phoenix area for the second straight week and play a tough team to the final seconds.

And the Lancers were without suspended quarterback Sammy Muniz, starting freshman wideout Jamarye Joiner in his place.

“It was nothing. It was just seeing things from a quarterback perspective inside of seeing it from a wide receiver’s perspective,” said Joiner, 14. “This was a heck of win. This will probably be the best one of my career right here.”

Tempe Marcos de Niza (3-2) will agree after the Salpointe ninth-grader scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 5-yard run and led the Lancers (5-0) to a 28-21 win over the host Padres for the 19th straight win, dating to the beginning of last season.

“Kid is really solid, man, really solid,” Salpointe coach Dennis Bene said. “So I just thought, the message to the team was rally and take the pressure off of him. I thought the team, our kids responded great.”

Actually, it looks like Joiner may have plenty of good games in front of him after settling down from a shaky start to gain 95 yards on the ground and complete 6 of 10 passes for 78 yards.

“He played real well tonight; we are all just very proud of him,” said running back Taylor Powell. “He responded to the pressure.”

Once the defense made its adjustments after halftime, the Lancers shut out Marcos de Niza, which came into the game averaging 34 points a game. Dominic Salaz helped Joiner plenty, carrying the ball 23 times for 145 yards. Salpointe had a fumble and 11 penalties but otherwise held its own against the team ranked ninth in Division II by The Arizona Republic.

After trailing 21-14 at halftime, Salpointe drove 72 yards in nine plays to open the second half and set the tone. Powell, who had 56 yards rushing, scored his third touchdown of the night to tie the game at 21 with 8:23 left.

The Lancers then slowed down the Padres, who had scored on three straight possessions in the first half, and got a break.

Twice on punts, Marcos de Niza deep safety Shaun Richards had muffed the catch. Early in the fourth, after Salpointe stalled at its 37, Richards did it again. He ran up to field the ball, didn’t handle it, and Dominic Pedrotty covered the ball for Salpointe at the Padres’ 35. Five runs later, the Lancers had a third-and-goal at the 5.

Again, Joiner did not look like someone who learned only two days earlier that he was starting his first game at quarterback.

“Everyone was saying, I’m a freshman, I’m a newbie,” Joiner said of being told about his role. “I just blew that off and got a good night rest and sleep.”

Joiner ran to the corner of the end zone on a bootleg to put the Lancers ahead for good with 8:12 left.

“I had to suspend our quarterback for violating team rules,” Bene said. “I thought our kids overcame a tremendous challenge tonight.”


Late TD pass helps Lancers stretch streak to 18

Salpointe Catholic’s streak lives on — after a narrow escape at Gilbert Campo Verde on Friday night.

The Lancers (4-0) needed a late touchdown to win their 18th straight game, 34-27 over host Campo Verde (3-2).

A last-minute drive ended with a 33-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to sophomore D.J. Hinton from quarterback Sam Muniz in the final seconds to break a 27-27 tie.

“I was on my knees praying,” Lancers junior linebacker Jacob Ksiazek said. “I had faith in Sam. I just wanted to get the ball and score.”

Muniz struggled for most of the first half, but finished the game strong, going 19 of 25 for 268 yards and three touchdowns. The senior also rushed 11 times for 69 yards.

Though the offense won the game at the end, it put the team in tough situations throughout.

Campo Verde’s defense forced four turnovers as Salpointe fumbled the ball three times — twice inside its own 20-yard line. Muniz’s lone interception on the night was returned for a touchdown.

It was the Lancers’ defense that was sturdy for most of the game and put the offense in ideal positions to score.

“We’re a defensive team,” said senior defensive back Dominic Pedrotty. “Our defense has always been good at this school and we’ll continue to make plays.”

Salpointe’s Taylor Powell finished as the game’s leading rusher with 72 yards. He scored three total touchdowns, including two in the first quarter to give Salpointe an early 13-0 lead.

“We got the ball near the end zone a lot to start the game and it helped out our offense, but we still got to work on making less turnovers,” Powell said.

Salpointe led 27-13 after three quarters before Campo Verde scored a pair of touchdowns to tie it.


Instinctive, competitive Powell bound for Nevada

Dennis Bene knows a good high school football player when he sees one.

He ought to. The 14-year coach of Salpointe Catholic High in Tucson, Ariz., has sent 37 players to Division I colleges, including former Nevada players Jack Darlington and Rocco Bene (his son). Nine from his state championship team a year ago are playing college football this season.

The next one headed to Nevada is a good one, too, he said.

Taylor Powell is a 6-foot, 220-pound middle linebacker who on Friday night against Sunnyside had eight tackles and two pass deflections before a lightning storm postponed the game with 3 minutes remaining in the first half.

"Taylor is very competitive and plays with an edge," said Bene, whose team went on to win 24-3 when the game resumed on Saturday. "He is a four-year starter and has played at a high level for four years. ... Taylor has a football player's mentality on the field, and he is a great kid off the field. My most successful players have all been like that."


Salpointe Names a New Director of Admissions



For Immediate Release

Mindae Russell, Director of Advancement
w: (520) 547-1952 c: (520) 661-9299 
Erin Coulter, Digital Communications Manager
w: (520) 547-1950 c: (520) 909-9546

Salpointe Catholic High School


Salpointe Catholic Names a New Director of Admissions

Michael FisherTucson, Ariz., September 15, 2014— Salpointe Catholic High School is pleased to welcome Mr. Michael Fisher as the school’s new Director of Admissions. A recent transplant from California, Fisher worked previously at Justin-Siena High School in Napa, CA.

Reporting to Salpointe’s Assistant Principal for Student Services, Fisher’s primary responsibilities are the recruitment, admission, and retention of students. Fisher will represent Salpointe at public events, work closely with prospective families and middle school administrators, and manage all aspects of student enrollment.

“We are thrilled for Michael to join the team at Salpointe as Director of Admissions. His experience working in a Catholic high school environment will serve him well in his interactions with prospective students and parents,” said Principal Sr. Helen Timothy, IBVM.

“Having moved to Tucson for my wife’s new position as Principal of Santa Cruz Catholic School, I couldn’t be more excited to take on this role at Salpointe and get to know the close-knit community of students, parents and staff at the school,” said Fisher.

Fisher received a Bachelor’s Degree from Cal Poly State, San Luis Obispo and a Master’s from San Diego State University.

For more information about admissions at Salpointe visit

About Salpointe Catholic High School:
Since opening its doors in 1950, Salpointe Catholic has enjoyed a distinguished reputation for its strong curriculum, competitive athletics, highly-acclaimed fine arts, faith-strengthening religious program and spirited co-curricular activities. Salpointe is a Catholic, Carmelite, college-preparatory high school enrolling 1,082 students. Salpointe is accredited by the Western Catholic Educational Association and accredited as a college-preparatory school by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
                                                                        # # #


Salpointe freshman golfer Harris already has seasoning

Though she’s only known freshman Haylin Harris about a month, Salpointe Catholic coach Michele Murphy says her golfer is special.

“One in a million, maybe,” Murphy joked. “She’s only the second golfer I’ve ever coached that has come into it with that kind of ability at that age.”

The other: Krystal Quihuis, a two-time state champion with the Lancers and a current Arizona Wildcats golfer.

Harris has come along at a perfect time.

Salpointe will play in the two-day Nighthawk Invitational at Omni Tucson National starting Friday. Among the 14 teams entered are Phoenix Xavier and Sahuaro, last year’s two state champions.

The Lancers will try to knock both teams off this year. Salpointe won state titles in 2011 and 2012, and figures to compete with Harris on the roster this year.


Salpointe RB eager to show off Powell, the person

It’s understandable if Taylor Powell is a bit amped up for Friday night.

It’s an audition for him. Well, not so much an audition — he’s already got the gig.

But this is the first time he’ll play in front of his future college head coach, Nevada’s Brian Polian, whose Wolf Pack play at Arizona Stadium on Saturday night against the Wildcats.

Maybe call Salpointe High’s game at Sunnyside a preview of coming attractions for Polian, and Powell is every bit the blockbuster: talented running back, aggressive linebacker, ball hawk.

Friday night, though, Powell hopes to display more than just special effects and huge explosions.

It’s his turn to reveal his instincts and athleticism, but more than that, his coach-in-waiting will get to see him in the shadows, away from the highlights, when things get tough. Powell can’t wait to show Polian how he looks as a teammate and not just as a runner, how he handles things if he can’t handle the ball, and what he looks like after an interception at the 8-yard line gives up a sure touchdown.

“I want him to see how I am as a leader, how I treat my teammates,” said Powell, who commited to Nevada in late July over offers from Fresno State and Colorado State. “In a game, a lot of things go up and down, so I want him to see how I act and react to those situations.”


Lancers rally, hold surging Sabino at bay

The idea that Salpointe Catholic’s football team was invincible, was just that — an idea.

Sabino played the role of bad host Friday night, as they gave the Lancers all they could handle.

After a first half filled with penalties and offensive struggles for the Lancers, they buckled down and made some adjustments to beat the Sabercats 31-21.

The win gives Salpointe its 44th consecutive victory over a Southern Arizona opponent.

“I give our kids a lot of credit for being resilient, being in great shape,” Salpointe coach Dennis Bene said. “They didn’t panic in a really good high school football game on the road.

“They settled in and didn’t give up.”


Defending champ Salpointe opens with easy win

Plenty was different about the Salpointe Catholic football team Friday night from a year ago. The end result, however, remained the same.

The Lancers topped visiting Sierra Vista Buena 48-9 to win their 15th straight game, in their first time taking the field since capping the 2013 season with a dominant win in the Division II state final last November. It was Salpointe’s 43rd straight win against a Southern Arizona opponent.

From the squad that went 14-0 last fall, 15 starters — including UA freshmen Cam Denson and Kaelin DeBoskie, who were in attendance at Friday’s season opener — graduated, leaving some big shoes to fill.

It doesn’t look as if coach Dennis Bene will have to look much further as he tries to find some of their replacements.

Salpointe amassed 544 yards rushing, much of which came from senior quarterback Sam Muniz, who totaled 222 yards on the ground. Muniz ran for 191 yards in the first half and finished the game 4 for 9 passing for 60 yards and a touchdown.

“I thought we did a lot of good things,” Bene said. “Again, we’re young in many spots so we just need game reps. I’m glad we have that game under our belt.”

Senior linebacker Taylor Powell — one of the few returning starters from last year — stepped up in his new role as the team’s No. 1 running back. He broke off a 20-yard run on the first play from scrimmage.


Salpointe senior serves double duty on game day

It's no secret what makes high school football so special in Arizona. It's not all about the X's and O's but rather beyond the game itself. High school football is all about the atmosphere.

Whether it's the crazy kids in the student section, the overlooked volunteers or the die-hard team moms, some of the best stories on game day are off the gridiron.

Each week the News 4 sports team will take you "Off the Gridiron" at various games, showing you what life is like off the field.

While players and coaches have been preparing for the first game of the season, others have been putting in just as much time. One Salpointe Catholic senior serves double duty on game day.

"I love leading the band, it's the most fun thing in the whole world," said Salpointe senior Erika Garcia.

While the Salpointe Catholic student section goes crazy on game-day, the 17-year-old Erika Garcia has more responsibility. She is leading the Lancers band. But there's more to it than the hand motions you see.

"You have to memorize so many songs, the cut offs and the music involved," said Garcia. "But it's worth it in the end, it definitely is."

Erika says her favorite part of game day is the halftime show, when the band and dancers come together for one impressive performance. She clearly loves the gig, so is there a future here?

"I probably could see myself doing something music related, but it definitely wouldn't be my main career," Garcia admitted. "I would not stop music though."



Lancers begin title defense with 15 new starters

This year’s Salpointe Catholic football team has some big shoes to fill.

The defending state champions host Sierra Vista Buena tonight to kick off the 2014 season. Coach Dennis Bene must replace 15 starters from last year’s undefeated team, including two players — Cam Denson and Kaelin DeBoskie — who moved on to the UA.

Here’s a look at four Salpointe newcomers who are eager to step up:


Salpointe pitcher Orozco on the baseball radar now

The Southern Arizona recruiting Class of 2015 isn’t among the deepest of the last decade, but last week in Long Beach, Calif., Salpointe Catholic pitcher Jio Orozco rose to the top of the list.

Playing for the Cincinnati Reds team in the Area Code Games, which is probably the top competition for high school baseball players every summer, Orozco made the all-tournament team, the elite of the elite.

What’s more, the Reds went 5-0, winning the championship under coach Clark Crist, a Cincinnati scout who was the starting shortstop on Arizona’s 1980 College World Series championship team.

“Jio was just outstanding,” said Crist. “He had no command issues. It was impressive because every time he pitched, he looked into the bleachers and saw 200 scouts and college coaches pointing radar guns at him. It didn’t faze him.”

Baseball America clocked Orozco, who was 8-1 at Salpointe last year, with a 93 mph fastball and calculated that he averaged 89 mph.

“You have to be very good just to get in the Area Code Games,” said Crist, who had tryouts from 80 players for the 25 spots on his team. “I coached (Washington outfielder) Bryce Harper on the Reds team. It’s a high-intensity showcase, and the Tucson kids that made the team all did well, especially Jio and those two Sahuaro kids, Javier Medina and Cesar Salazar.”

Orozco, who has committed to play for Andy Lopez at Arizona, is my choice as Tucson’s leading recruit in the Class of 2015.


Salpointe Catholic Accepts the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Viral fundraising challenge taking place nationwide

For Immediate Release: Tucson, Ariz., August 15, 2014— Salpointe Catholic High School is honored to accept the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” and will be raising funds for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) research until next Thursday.

For every $100 raised by the school, a Salpointe teacher or administrator will dump a bucket of ice water over their head. If the school raises $500 by Thursday, August 21 Salpointe’s Principal Sr. Helen Timothy, IBVM, will partake in an icy bath!

If the school raises more than $500, the entire Student Council and their advisor will also dump ice buckets over their heads.

Student council members and faculty will be collecting donations from Friday, August 15 through Wednesday, August 20.

The ice bucket soaking is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Thursday, August 21 in Salpointe’s Junior Patio and a full video will commemorate the event.

“Bring on the ice bucket!” says Principal Sr. Helen. “I have every confidence our Salpointe community can raise $500 and more for this important research fund.”

What is ALS?
ALS stands for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  It is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually the brain’s ability to control muscle movement is lost.

Nevada-bound Powell eyeing bigger role for Lancers

Since the beginning of August and through next Friday, the Star is featuring some of Southern Arizona’s top high school football players to watch this fall.

Our series continues today with Taylor Powell, whose Salpointe Catholic team hosts Sierra Vista Buena a week from tonight to help kick off the 2014 season. Powell was one of the major components in the Lancers’ undefeated run to the Division II state crown a year ago.

Taylor Powell

The rundown: Taylor Powell, MLB/RB, 6-1, 220, Salpointe Catholic, senior

Who he is: The leader of the Salpointe defense, with the athletic gifts to excel at running back and the ability to make plays, big and small. With the majority of the Lancers’ history-making defense gone, and a good chunk of the offense, too, more responsibility than ever falls on Powell’s broad shoulders. Yet, the senior is more than ready for the challenge of being captain, and coach Dennis Bene said it’s the final element for the quiet linebacker to master. He has the tangibles — field vision, athleticism, intelligence — but Bene said figuring out the remaining “intangibles” could push the All-Southern Arizona defender to the next level.

After last season, he doesn’t have far to go. Powell recorded 161 tackles a year ago, the third-most in school history, despite the Salpointe starters usually being substituted midway through the third quarter of each blowout. Powell’s goal is to break the school’s single-season tackle record (172), but he’s also focused on his new role in a three-man running back platoon. Bene said he has the physical tools to be the starting tailback at any school in town, and Powell’s adjustment will be made even easier with top-tier talent such as Justin Holt opening holes for him. Holt, a junior two-way lineman, already has an offer to UA and has attended several elite football camps over the summer, and Powell attributed a lot of his success at linebacker in 2013 to the play of the defensive line.

Proof he’s good: Powell has proven it against the best. At last year’s San Diego State Passing Tournament, Powell and six other Lancers faced La Mesa (California) Helix High in a 7-on-7 minimal contact game. The Southern California football factory has produced big names such as Reggie Bush and Alex Smith, to name a couple, yet a then-junior Powell held his own with both his Lancers teammates and the Highlanders. It was a turning point for Powell, Bene said, as Powell grew in confidence and “swagger” and started acting like a middle linebacker. During the season, Powell didn’t back away from competition either. All of Powell’s five sacks and two interceptions came against playoff opponents, and so did four of his five forced fumbles. After this season, he’ll continue testing his abilities as a middle linebacker at Nevada.

He said it: “When I was young, I started playing on the defensive side of the ball, so it just grew as a part of me. I’ve always wanted to be a linebacker.” — Powell

Kevin Brice '12 named the New York Collegiate Baseball League Player of the Year

As recipient of the New York Collegiate Baseball League Player of the Year award, Kevin Brice (Pomona-Pitzer College), is in good company.

The past three winners have all been been taken in the Major League Baseball draft. Chris Bostick (2011 winner) was taken by the Oakland Athletics in the 44th round in 2011. Jon Kemmer (2012) was selected by the Houston Astros in the 21st round in 2013. Last year’s winner, Scott DeJong, was taken in the 2014 draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 32nd round.

“I feel optimistic,” said Brice. “I still have to work hard. It feels good knowing that.”

Brice put up outstanding numbers this season. He led the league with his .400 batting average, which was 36 points ahead of the player in second place. His four home runs were tied for second and Brice landed eighth in the league with 32 RBI. He also lead his team in several categories including hits (62), and hit by pitches (12). Brice was tied for first in doubles (ten) and walks (20). He was also second on the team in stolen bases (15), showing that he is an all-around player and does not rely on just power to help his team.



Salpointe's Holt keeps the Lancers in the running again

They have all graduated.

Andrew Cota, Cameron Denson, Jay Williams, Kaelin Deboskie, Robert Wilson, Jake Casteel, Kevin Hamlett, Brandt Davidson, Gabriel Sandoval, Breeon Auzenne, Santiago Nieto, Austin Weaver and Alex Flores.

In all, some 29 seniors from Salpointe's 14-0 run to their first-ever state championship are no longer in uniform. Some of the names are well-known to the average football fan but they are all known to those who follow football.

But, with players such as Taylor Powell, Zach Dorame, Jacob Ksiazek and Justin Holt still in uniform, one would have to believe the Lancers under head coach Dennis Bene will be ready to defend their title.

"We are going to surprise a lot of people and don’t underestimate our potential," Holt said. "We have weapons at every position and we are solid on the line."

Even though he was only a sophomore, Holt was an undeniable force on the defensive line last year and he looks to continue with an even bigger presence and role on the field.

"I'm ready for that role and will try to set an example by being the best person I can be," explained Holt on his status as a team leader. "I learned by my father who is my role model."

Julius Holt was a major force behind Larry Smith's Arizona teams of 1981 and 1982 that began a decade-long dominance over ASU and he has been a role model for several of the current generation of players and a constant presence with an undeniable Wildcat heritage.

Salpointe Football Ranks #19 in National Pre-Season Rankings

MaxPreps 2014 Preseason Medium Schools National High School Football Rankings

19. Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Ariz.), 14-0
The defending Division II champion lost a ton of Division I talent from last year's undefeated team, but seven starters return, including a talented linebacking group that includes Taylor Powell

Salpointe Catholic Welcomes Largest Freshman Class in More than Seven Years

Salpointe Catholic High School is pleased to welcome the 316 members of the Class of 2018. The freshman class is up 25% since last year, reversing a trend over the last decade. Salpointe’s total enrollment is 1,095, and additional freshman and transfer applications are on a wait-list status.

“Enrollment in private schools has been decreasing nationwide for years,” said Principal Sr. Helen Timothy, IBVM. “Salpointe’s combination of outreach, campus improvements, and curricular innovation has reversed this trend.”

Students in the freshman class come from 68 schools across Pima County and join Salpointe at an exciting time in the school’s 64-year history. Salpointe’s Building Leaders and Legacy Capital Campaign will conclude this fall with the opening of a new 25,000 square foot student center and a 10,000 square foot science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) facility in January 2015.

“We are delighted to cut the ribbon on the new Sayre Stevens Student Center, which includes a state-of-the-art cafeteria, student services center, beautiful chapel, and the Jim Click Family Library and Technology Center,” said President Kay Sullivan. “And the innovative new Cracchiolo Family STEM Center will provide an unprecedented level of educational opportunity for our Lancers. It is Salpointe’s goal to help meet the workforce needs of Southern Arizona employers, particularly in the STEM industry.”

Lauded as one of the first integrated STEM high school curricula in Southern Arizona, the major focus of Salpointe’s STEM program is to expose students to the processes of design, research, analysis, teamwork, communication, global and human impact, engineering standards, technical documentation and engineering-focused careers. Current and new STEM courses utilize cutting-edge equipment including a 3D printer, laser cutter, VEX Robotic systems, and 3D solid modeling design software.

“The reputation of Salpointe for preparing the youth of Tucson for college has long been in our thoughts when deciding where our son would attend high school. We were overwhelmed by the plans for the new STEM center and all of its related programs as we want to foster our son’s interest in science,” said John Green, freshman parent. “After attending orientation and seeing all that the school has to offer, our son knew this was the school of choice for him, and my wife and I knew that Salpointe would give him the best chance to receive a top level, 21st century education while providing a nurturing yet competitive environment in which to learn."

Another factor leading to increased enrollment is the affordability of a private, college-preparatory education at Salpointe. More than 50% of the school’s student body qualifies for some level of tuition assistance, and for the 2014-15 school year, Salpointe awarded $2 million in financial aid thanks to corporate and individual tax credits and the school’s endowed and general scholarship funds. These funds make quality education a reality for the diverse population of Lancer students who represent a variety of ethnic, academic, and economic backgrounds.

“We look forward to spending the next four years with these freshmen and being a part of their transformation into educated, thriving members of the community who will go on to do incredible things in college and beyond,” said Sullivan.

Legendary sports figure Carl Brunenkant passes away

Carl Franklin Brunenkant

September 19, 1932 - July 28, 2014

Carl Brunenkant passed away on Monday at the age of 81. An All-State football player at Florence High School in 1950, Brunenkant attended the University of Arizona after an injury kept him from playing for ASU. He earned a Master's Degree and then began teaching at Salpointe.

While at Salpointe, Brunenkant coached football, basketball, track and cross country and led the Lancers to their first-ever "City Championship" in cross country before moving over to Sunnyside in 1957.

He remained at Sunnyside for 28 years as an educator, coach, athletic director and principal. He led the Blue Devils to a boy's cross country championship in 1966. He became the first principal of Desert View in 1985 before going back to Salpointe to be their athletic director and then, finally to Flowing Wells before he retired in 2008.

He earned Athletic Director of the Year honors and was one of the major forces behind Special Olympics in Arizona. He is also a member of the Pima County, Sunnyside and Salpointe Halls of Fame.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years (Mary) and five sons, John (Roseanne), Barry (Honor), Mark (Lucinda), Tim (Annette) and Jim.  He also had ten grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

One of his sons, Mark Brunenkant, is the current head football coach at Flowing Wells.

Salpointe's Ksiazek is getting noticed
The Arizona Daily Star officially kicked off the countdown to high school football three weeks ago but we’re adding another element to the fun today.

Over the next 22 days, in no particular order, we will feature our picks of Southern Arizona’s top preseason players.

Our list begins with Salpointe Catholic’s Jake Ksiazek, the only returning player for the Lancers to score in last year’s state championship game.

Jake Ksiazek

The rundown: Jake Ksiazek, TE/LB, 6-2, 220, Salpointe, junior

  • Who he is: Ksiazek will be a team captain and two-way starter for the defending state champions, at tight end and outside linebacker. After spending last season as a defensive end, Ksiazek is looking forward to having space to move around in the backfield as he replaces the graduated Kevin Hamlett, who was third on the team with 5.2 tackles a game last fall. Salpointe coach Dennis Bene said the main focus of the position change will be making sure he gets comfortable in space and doesn’t fall out of position but Ksiazek doesn’t see that as an issue. He said he feels much quicker and stronger than last year thanks to cutting roughly 20 pounds of excess weight he put on to help play on the line. Additionally, Ksiazek said he put in time over the offseason running ladders and working on his routes to make him a force on the other side of the ball too, as he was when he was a two-way player on the freshman team three years ago. Bene said finding a true tight end at the high school level is tough so he’s eager to take advantage of all his skills.

  • Proof he’s good: Bene said college coaches have already begun to notice Ksiazek for his size and athleticism and believes he’ll be highly sought after. As a sophomore, Ksiazek was sixth on the team with 3.5 tackles a game, seven tackles-for-loss and four sacks. Senior middle linebacker Taylor Powell, who verbally committed to Nevada, is the only returning player with more tackles on the team after he had averaged 11.5 in 2013. Ksiazek had some of his best performances on the biggest stages. When the Lancers hosted undefeated Tempe Marcos de Niza last September, he registered a season-high seven tackles and two sacks. Then, in the Division II state championship game at Arizona Stadium, Ksiazek returned a blocked punt for a 7-yard touchdown, Salpointe’s final score of its 14-0 season.

He said it: “He’s very respected by his coaches and peers and, because he’s got a championship under his belt, he knows what it takes. He understands the grind, he understands the commitment and, at the end of the day, he has earned the respect of everybody in our program so he’s a perfect young player to put in a leadership role.” — Bene


Bene brought long-awaited state title to Salpointe

The Arizona Daily Star's countdown of Southern Arizona's top high school football coaches of all time continues with Salpointe Catholic’s Dennis Bene, who helped the Lancers win their first state championship last fall.

No. 6: Dennis Bene

School: Salpointe Catholic

Years in coaching: 2001-present

Career record: 126-29

Achievements: More than three decades after playing in Salpointe’s first trip to the state finals in 1981, Bene coached the Lancers to their first title. Last season’s unblemished run to the state crown put Bene’s winning percentage above 80 percent in his 13 years with the Lancers. During his time at the helm, Salpointe has never had a losing season and advance past the first round of the state playoffs in nine of 11 attempts. However, last fall marked just the second time under Bene that the Lancers made it past the quarterfinals.

The Lancers competed in Class 5A-I until three years ago and struggled facing larger Phoenix-area schools in the postseason.

They haven’t had any trouble dominating Southern Arizona teams and have won 40 straight games against area teams, with the last loss coming in Week 6 of 2008 against Ironwood Ridge.

Bene, a former quarterback who graduated from Salpointe in 1984, served as an assistant under former coach Pat Welchert for two years and held the school’s career passing mark of 3,151 yards until he saw Lancers QB Ben Provost surpass it in 2000 with 4,235 yards.

Since then, Bene has produced three quarterbacks who passed for more than 4,000 career yards and had Tyler Graunke throw for a single-season city-record 3,372 yards in 2003.

The one record Bene still holds is for racking up 425 yards passing in a single game in 1983 as a senior.

Memorable moment: After not trailing all season, Salpointe fell behind 6-0 to Scottsdale Chaparral in the Division II state championship game at Arizona Stadium last year. But the undefeated Lancers stormed back with 26 straight points on their way to a 46-20 win to capture the program’s first state title in its 62-year history.

The Lancers’ defense had a pivotal goal-line stand, followed by Salpointe senior quarterback Andrew Cota connecting with star receiver Cameron Denson for a 98-yard touchdown pass.

Salpointe led 26-6 at the half before Chaparral scored early in the third quarter to make it 26-13, but Denson responded with an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown to put the game out of reach.

Bene was named the Star’s coach of the year while Denson, now a freshman on the UA football team, was named both the offensive and defensive players of the year.

From the archives: “I’m an alum, I’m a former player, and it means everything that we have the championship trophy at Salpointe now. I’m just so, so thankful the trophy is finally at Salpointe.” — Bene in the Nov. 30, 2013, Arizona Daily Star

Big number: 38. With success comes scouts. Bene has made Salpointe the first stop for college coaches visiting Southern Arizona, sending a total of 38 players on to play Division I college football during his tenure, including six from the 2012 team. Bene also sent five players each in 2002, 2006 and 2013.


Salpointe's Powell picks Nevada, will see team play UA

Taylor Powell has Sept. 13 circled on his calendar.

Not for a game during Salpointe Catholic’s bid to repeat as Division II state champions, though the Lancers’ visit to Sunnyside the night before is certainly on his radar. On Sept. 13, the middle linebacker will shed his pads to watch former teammates Cameron Denson and Kaelin Deboskie of the UA Wildcats play Nevada at Arizona Stadium.

But after Powell’s verbal commitment to Nevada on Friday, he’ll be a Wolf Pack fan first and a Lancer second.

“It’s going to be really exciting seeing Cam and Kaelin out there playing against my future school,” Powell said.

The 6-foot-2-inch, 200-pound Powell devastated opposing offenses from the middle of the field last year, racking up 11ƒ tackles per game, including 21 for a loss. His performance earned him first-team All-Southern Arizona honors. It also piqued the Wolf Pack’s interest.

The three-star recruit picked Nevada over Mountain West rivals Colorado State and Fresno State on Friday afternoon, though he said his decision was set two days earlier.

“After talking to some of the Nevada coaches, hearing what they thought about me and how highly they thought about me, it really just made up my mind,” Powell said.

Watch video coverage of Powell's selection announcement here


UA football notes: Denson switching to defense

Rich Rodriguez said in February that Cam Denson was the headliner of the Arizona Wildcats’ recruiting class.

The Salpointe Catholic Class of 2014 standout figured to start at wide receiver and maybe play a little defense.

Five months later, Denson is still the main attraction of the 2014 class. But it’s not as a receiver.

Denson was listed as a cornerback when the UA’s roster was released Wednesday. The Star’s Southern Arizona Player of the Year will begin his career on defense, despite being recruited as a receiver and ranked as one of the premier ones in the country.

The reason is simple: need.

“We need more corners than we do receivers,” Rodriguez said at Pac-12 media days. “He may still play both. Cam is a team guy. He probably sees there is more opportunity there now because we’re not nearly as deep at receiver.

“I said, ‘Hey, why don’t we put you over there first?’ He said, ‘OK, Coach.’ That’s the way Cam is. There’s no drama with Cam Denson.”


Stadium namesake helped spark Salpointe

Ed Doherty finished off an illustrious coaching career by setting the groundwork at Salpointe Catholic.

Ed Doherty
School: Salpointe Catholic
Years in coaching: 1977-82
Career record: 46-19-3

Achievements: Doherty’s accomplishments in Southern Arizona only tell a small part of his overall impact on the sport. Doherty played quarterback at Boston College in the Orange Bowl, coached as an assistant for the Philadelphia Eagles and remains the only man to lead both the UA and ASU football teams. He also worked alongside NFL legend Vince Lombardi at a New Jersey high school after World War II. Yet Doherty’s distaste for recruiting led him back to the prep level, where success rarely eluded him. At Phoenix St. Mary’s, he reached three straight state championship games (1967-1969), winning two of them. He also reached a championship game with Salpointe in 1981, but Phoenix Trevor Brown shut out the Lancers 20-0. During his 12 years coaching prep football in Arizona, he reached the playoffs nine times and complied 99 wins with just 33 losses.

Memorable moment: Nine seasons after finally hanging up the whistle, Doherty’s place in high school football lore received its final chapter when Salpointe dedicated its football field in his name. At halftime of a 1991 matchup between the Lancers and visiting Phoenix St. Mary’s, Doherty was honored by the two schools he had done so much for – and that had meant so much to him. The years coaching prep football in Arizona “were the best years I ever had coaching, both in wins and losses and in fun,” Doherty told the Star two weeks before the naming ceremony. St. Mary’s, then coached by one of Doherty’s former players Pat Farrell, ended up beating Salpointe and another former player, Pat Welchert, 24-12.

From the archives: “I think he’s the greatest innovator and strategist I’ve ever played for, and I’ve played for George Halas and a number of guys in the CFL.” — Wilford “Whizzer” White, ASU Hall of Fame running back, in the August 25, 1991, Arizona Daily Star

Big number: 4. Doherty led Salpointe to the playoffs four times during his six seasons in charge. A 66.7 percentage doesn’t seem all that impressive in light of Salpointe’s recent success, but before Doherty arrived in 1977 Salpointe had reached the playoffs just once in the 18 years since they had been introduced. While others certainly helped the football program reach its sustained level of success, Doherty’s time as coach and then athletic director helped move the ball forward — one final innovation for a man defined by them.


Alums Bene, Flannery and Garcia Chosen for Pima County Hall of Fame

2014 Pima County Sports Hall of Fame Class

The Pima County Sports Hall of Fame announced its 14-person Class of 2014, the 25th class in the PCSHF history, extending membership to 334.

These Hall of Famers will be inducted Oct. 26 at the Holiday Inn-Tucson Airport North ballroom:

Dennis Bene '84
Coach and athlete at Salpointe Catholic High School who led the team to a perfect 14-0 record and state championship this past fall. In 13 seasons at Salpointe, he has a winning percentage of .812 with 126 victories and only 29 losses. He has won 10 league or conference championships while making 12 playoff appearances.

Jim Flannery '66
Lettered in basketball and track at Salpointe Catholic from 1962-1966. Began coaching at Salpointe in 1974 and won regional basketball championships in 1984, 1991 and 1992. Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Citizen Coach of the Year in 1986 and 1991. Coached state championship golf teams in 1981 and 2004 and finished runner-up in 2006, 2006, 2008 and 2011. Was selected Boys Coach of the Year in 2013.

Frank Garcia '75
Lettered in football and basketball at Salpointe Catholic High School. Selected All-City Football in 1974 and participated in the 1975 All-Star football game. 20 years later was inducted into the Salpointe Sports Hall of Fame. Punter for the UofA football team and spent three games with the Chicago Blitz. In 1983 Frank got his break with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was All-Pro that year.


Salpointe's Welchert notched 89 wins in 15 years

The Arizona Daily Star reveals their picks for Tucson’s best high school football coaches of all time. Coming in at No. 21 is Pat Welchert, who helped Salpointe Catholic reach the state finals for just the second time in program history.

No. 21: Pat Welchert

School: Salpointe Catholic

Years in coaching: 1986-2000

Career record: 89-71-1

Achievements: Welchert’s 15 years at Salpointe showed the Lancers something they’d never seen: coaching longevity. Prior to his run, none of the previous 11 coaches spent more than eight years with the team, and just Ed Doherty and Gene McCarter were with the Lancers for more than four seasons. While the stability was one thing, Welchert also guided Salpointe to success it hadn’t seen in its long history. He was the only coach to reach the semifinals or further twice until last fall, when the Lancers captured the Division II state title under Dennis Bene. That was the first time Salpointe was in the state finals since 1991, when Welchert’s squad got out to a 1-2-1 start but finished 10-3-1 and was the Class 5A runner-up behind a potent rushing attack anchored by running back Chris Hopkins. Doherty, who coached the Lancers from 1977-82, was the only other coach to reach the state finals in the program’s history. Welchert almost made it back to the championship game in 2000, but sixth-seeded Mesa Westwood overcame a 14-0 deficit late to beat the Lancers 21-20 in the semifinals. Three months after the season ended, Welchert, who graduated from Salpointe in 1978, stepped down to pursue a business career and recommended Bene as his replacement.

Memorable moment: Welchert’s final win with the Lancers was surely one to remember and one of the biggest in the program’s history. His 10th-seeded squad held No. 2 Chandler Hamilton scoreless for three quarters and beat the Huskies 24-6 in the 5A state quarterfinals in 2000. Quarterback-turned-defensive back Ben Provost, who was inserted because of injuries, dominated the first quarter on both sides of the ball for the Lancers. He swung the momentum in Salpointe’s favor early when he returned his first of two interceptions in the opening period for a 45-yard touchdown. Then Provost hit Scott Willmeng with a 15-yard scoring pass to make it 14-0. Salpointe led 17-0 at the half and forced four turnovers in the game, while allowing the Huskies past midfield just once all night.

From the archives: “I really looked up to him. He is one of those guys when he talks, everybody listens.

He’s taught me a lot. I started out undisciplined and he got me in the groove of things. It seems weird that he won’t be coaching anymore.” – Former Salpointe and UA kicker Ryan Slack in the Feb. 9, 2001, Arizona Daily Star.

Big number: 4,103. Welchert’s rushing attack in 1991 totaled a school-record 4,103 yards. The only team that came close to the mark was in 2012, when the Lancers rushed for 3,390 yards. Hopkins, who went on to play at Arizona State, accounted for 2,107 yards in 1991 and still holds the individual single-season record. His 31 touchdowns that season were also a program best until last fall, when Cameron Denson scored 32.


Salpointe's Bene teaching right way to tackle

After an undefeated season and state championship last fall, Salpointe Catholic football coach Dennis Bene landed a pro gig.

It has nothing to do with X’s and O’s.

Earlier this year, USA Football — an NFL-sponsored program — tabbed the longtime Lancers boss as Arizona’s lone master trainer, essentially, a coaches’ coach. Bene traveled to USA Football headquarters in Indianapolis, where he was been trained and certified to coach and teach others about Heads Up Football, a health initiative program run by USA Football.

This week, Bene will travel to the Bay Area for a youth player safety clinic. The following week, he’ll drive to Phoenix for a parents clinic at the Arizona Cardinals facility.

“We want to establish a common standard and also make sure we have certified player safety coaches,” Bene said. “Coaches that have been educated in our tackling, concussion, hydration and equipment fitting. We got these four pillars that we really want to standardize youth football – a standard language throughout the country.”


Longtime Lancer soccer coach Wolfgang Weber torn between US, Germany as World Cup match nears

Nearly every day for a month, Wolfgang Weber and four of his players squeezed into the cramped interior of a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, his first car, and drove down the freshly paved Interstate  19 to a hotel in Nogales, Arizona. There, Weber, his players and about 40 other diehards would watch Mexican telecasts of the 1978 World Cup.

After the final whistle sounded, the five would cram back into the humble Beetle and trek back to Tucson. The next day, the same journey.

“The only game on American television was the final on ABC; everything else you couldn’t get,” Weber said.

Nine World Cups and 36 years later, Weber’s Volkswagen has been replaced by a Mercedes-Benz, one whose tires won’t touch the pavement of I-19. Weber will park himself in front his TV on Thursday morning for another World Cup match.

This one is personal. Salpointe Catholic’s longtime soccer coach will watch as his native Germany takes on the United States with berths in the round of 16 at stake.

Weber says he will be rooting for the team with the red, white and blue crest. Well, at least in theory.

“I want both teams to do well, but when it comes down to the end, I probably come down on the side of the U.S.,” Weber said.

“But I’ll keep the door open for Germany as well.” 


High school football: Local Tucson product Holt weighing UA offer

Salpointe Catholic’s Justin Holt knows it would be special to play football for the Arizona Wildcats — just like his father, Julius, did.

But that wasn’t why Holt was excited when UA coach Rich Rodriguez offered him a full scholarship last weekend. The 6-foot-2-inch, 285-pound defensive tackle said he likes where the program is heading; the family connection is just a bonus.

“It does have some importance and significance to carry on the tradition, but it’s not the top reason why I would want to go there,” he said. “I really like what RichRod is doing over there. He’s a player’s coach, and he’s really come along in the program. He’s made all the progress that he promised.” 

High school boys tennis: Salpointe Catholic's Yash Parikh is the player of the year

Salpointe Catholic’s Yash Parikh went 22-0 as a sophomore and could very well be considered the best high school player in all of Arizona.

Parikh cruised his way to winning the Division II singles title and helped Salpointe Catholc reach the state final for the second straight season.

No one else in Southern Arizona had Parikh’s résumé, making him an easy pick for Player of the Year.

Kaelin Deboskie '14 Cleared to Play UA Football This Fall

When Rich Rodriguez proudly announced his 2014 recruiting class back in February, there was one notable name missing — Kaelin Deboskie.

The wide receiver, who helped lead Salpointe Catholic High School to a state championship last season, committed to Rodriguez and the UA in October over a handful of other offers. But when Arizona’s head coach went name by name through his recruiting class on national signing day, Deboskie’s name never came up.

Deboskie, who played his senior year at Salpointe, after transferring from Heritage High School in Texas, had some minor transcript issues after some of his credits didn’t transfer over.

As a result, he wasn’t cleared by the NCAA in February. But after graduating from Salpointe earlier this month, it’s official — Kaelin Deboskie is an Arizona Wildcat.

Salpointe Catholic High School's 263 Graduates Earn More Than $18 Million in Merit Scholarships

Salpointe Catholic High School Graduates 263 Students for Class of 2014
An Astounding $18,638,661 Earned in Merit Scholarships

2014 graduatesTucson, Ariz., May 19, 2014 — Salpointe Catholic High School is proud to announce that the 263 members of the Class of 2014 have been admitted to 200 colleges and universities around the world. Among the impressive list of colleges, Salpointe graduates were accepted at Duke University, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Johns Hopkins University, Marquette University, Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, and University of Notre Dame just to name a few. Several graduates will be heading out of the country to schools such as Temple University’s Japan Campus, University of Edinburgh, Trinity College in Dublin, Charles University in Prague, and the University of Waterloo in Canada.

“We are thrilled to announce that the Class of 2014 earned more than $18.5 million in merit scholarships,” says Principal Sr. Helen Timothy, IBVM. “We wish our graduates grand success as they pursue education and careers after high school.”

Salpointe’s Baccalaureate Mass was held May 17 at St. Augustine Cathedral followed by a commencement ceremony at the Tucson Convention Center. Graduation speakers were Isabel Gossler, attending the University of Arizona Honors College, and Nicholas DiChristofano, attending the University of San Diego. In addition, the following awards were presented to the Class of 2014:

  • Carmelite Medal Awards – Juan Blanco and Araceli Islas, both attending the University of Arizona Honors College
  • John Hughes Spirit Award – Sergio Pineda, attending Northern Arizona University
  • Outstanding Male Athlete – Cameron Denson, attending University of Arizona
  • Outstanding Female Athlete – Krystal Quihuis, attending University of Arizona
  • Outstanding Fine Artist, Performance – Anthony Gibes, attending University of Arizona
  • Outstanding Fine Artist, Visual – Peter Mare, attending Arizona State University

These fine Lancers and their fellow classmates join the legacy of leadership cherished by Salpointe’s 16,000+ alumni.

About Salpointe Catholic High School:
Since opening its doors in 1950, Salpointe Catholic has enjoyed a distinguished reputation for its strong curriculum, competitive athletics, highly-acclaimed fine arts, faith-strengthening religious program and spirited co-curricular activities. Salpointe is a Catholic, Carmelite, college-preparatory high school enrolling 1,035 students. Salpointe is accredited by the Western Catholic Educational Association and accredited as a college-preparatory school by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
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Desert Museum's otter has more Twitter followers than you do thanks to Salpointe students

An otter at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's has recently taken to Twitter to express herself.

And no, it's not just a keeper translating her deepest thoughts and breakfast desires. 

Motion sensitive cameras installed in the otter exhibit trigger tweets and photos that post directly to the otter’s Twitter account, according to a news release.

Students participating in the Engineering Projects In Community Service program from Salpointe Catholic High School and mentors from Rincon Research Corporation designed the system.

Patrick Hayes Named Salpointe’s Assistant Principal for Student Services

Patrick HayesSalpointe Catholic High School is pleased to announce the appointment of Patrick Hayes as the school’s Assistant Principal for Student Services, effective July 1, 2014. He replaces Charlene Roll, who is departing Salpointe to ser