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Salpointe's Majok Deng dreams to reconnect with father

This past Sunday was difficult for Tucson Salpointe forward Majok (pronounced Ma-juke) Deng.

He found out Friday that he was ranked by ESPN fourth in the West among top 2019 basketball recruits. But he wouldn't be able to share that news with his dad on Father's Day.

Since 2011, when he left his dad behind in Africa to get on a plane to Tucson, the 6-foot-5, 175-pound small forward hasn't seen his dad.

His dad was among soldiers on the run in the war. Deng, his mom and three brothers fled to Kenya on foot. His mom, working as a midwife, accepted an American’s invitation to come to America.

“They worked on the progress to get here,” Deng said. “We lost him in the war. We didn’t know where he was at the time. We didn’t know what to say. We were coming to America. Two months later, we found him.”

The Dengs arrived in America on Jan. 22, 2011, as refugees.

Still learning English, his mother now works at a grocery store in Tucson, while Deng spends hours in the gym, working on his game, thinking about some day connecting with his dad, who remains in Africa.

Deng said his dad has started a school to help children in Africa, but he misses his family.

“We just try to stay as close as possible,” Deng said. “It’s hard to call him because there is not good connections where he’s at.”

This gives Deng tremendous motivation to make it in basketball. After a tremendous spring playing for Powerhouse Hoops’ AAU team, getting on the radar by ESPN and other recruiting services as a high-motor, athletic wing, Deng pushes himself.

“A lot of it is my family,” he said. “The way my family’s living situation they’re in. When I see things going on, it motivates me to go harder.”

Salpointe coach Brian Holstrom was amazed at Deng’s work ethic not only on the court but in the classroom as a freshman.

“Something a lot of people in the basketball world don't see is how hard he works to be an A-B student at Salpointe,” Holstrom said.

His basketball skills are off the charts.

“He’s 6-5 with great hands and shooting touch,” Holstrom said. “In the past year, he has gotten a lot stronger, making him a matchup nightmare. To me, what makes him really special is his passion and enthusiasm for the game and his team.

“I know ‘He’s a hard worker’ gets thrown around about a lot of players but Majok had to be coached about overtraining. In a given day, he will lift weights, do an individual workout, have a team practice and then still want to shoot after if someone doesn’t tell him to rest.”

Holstrom describes Deng’s abilities as a “highlight reel.” He averaged 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds on Salpointe’s 20-win varsity team as a freshman.

“But I also get a kick out of watching him during timeouts or when other players make a play,” Holstrom said. “He is joyous when anything good is happening with the team and just cherishes whatever opportunities come his way.”

Deng’s dream are big, NBA big. His cousin, he says, is Miami Heat forward Luol Deng, who was the seventh overall pick of the 2004 NBA draft (by the Suns but acquired by the Chicago Bulls in a trade) out of Duke. Majok said he’s tried to reach out to Luol Deng.

“I try talking to him but he’s big,” Deng said.

It is Deng’s dad he wants to connect with. And maybe basketball will be the vehicle to make that dream come true.

“Him not being around me is a big motivation,” Deng said. “I just want to see where this will take me. It might bring him around me.

“(The NBA) is really a hard thing to get there. But I think about it. I put it in my dreams.”

2016 Boys Tennis Player of the Year: Yash Parikh, Salpointe Catholic

What he did: Parikh plowed through the Division II singles state tournament to win his second championship in three seasons. The star senior finished out a stellar career with a perfect 22-0 season, in addition to helping Salpointe reach the semifinals of the team tournament.

Top performance: Parikh, who also won a singles state title as a sophomore, dropped just two games on his way to getting back to the state finals. That’s where Parikh took down Surprise Shadow Ridge’s Carlos Hassey, to avenge a semifinal loss from the year before. The top-seeded Parikh held on for a 7-5 win in the first set against Hassey, before rolling to a 6-1 win in the second to secure the title.

What’s next: Parikh is taking a gap year to play in some tournaments and better his game, before enrolling in school in the fall of 2017. In four seasons at Salpointe, Parikh won two singles titles and twice more finished third, losing to the eventual champion in the semifinals both instances.

Runner-up: Michael Lee, Catalina Foothills. The Arizona Wildcats signee teamed up with his brother to reach the championship round of the doubles state tournament and helped the Falcons capture their third straight team crown.

Salpointe student's art to hang in US Capitol

Salpointe Catholic High School sophomore Erica Marquez took first place in U.S. Rep. Martha McSally’s Congressional Art Competition.

Marquez’s painting of San Xavier Mission will be on display at the U.S. Capitol. Tatyana Padró-Miguel, a junior at Buena High School, won first runner-up for her submission, “Freedom.” Paulina Barrera, a junior at Flowing Wells High School, won second runner-up for her drawing, “American Dream.”

Both of those pieces will be displayed in McSally’s Tucson or Sierra Vista district offices along with art from other honorable-mention winners.

Southern Arizona Sand Volleyball All-Stars

Top Duo
Peyton Lewis, Salpointe
Hannah Semon, Ironwood Ridge

Coach of the Year
Heather Moore-Martin, Salpointe

All-Southern Arizona
Peyton Lewis, Salpointe
Hannah Semon, Ironwood Ridge
Alanna Duarte, Salpointe
Allie Weaver, Salpointe
Carly Lowry, Salpointe
Maggie Scheppelman, Salpointe
Arica Christensen, Salpointe
Baylie Stephens, Ironwood Ridge
Jaelyn Olsen, Ironwood Ridge
Jaclyn Inclan, Ironwood Ridge
Taylor Salese, Ironwood Ridge


Boys Tennis Player of the Year: Tucson Salpointe Catholic's Yash Parikh

The mantra of win from within is exemplified by Tucson Salpointe Catholic senior Yash Parikh every time he steps on the tennis court.

After a state title in 2014 as a sophomore, Parikh came back and took his second state singles title as a senior at this year’s tournament.

All made possible by way of hard work, focus and his secret weapon – meditation.

“He’s always been the hardest worker we’ve had,” coach John Condes said. “You knew as soon as the season ended last year that he was going to get right back to work and just keep on improving his game. That’s what he’s done all year, is just work hard at his game and improves almost daily.”

This season, Parikh has been recognized as azcentral sports' All-Arizona Boys Tennis Player of the Year.

While the hard work and the preparation has always been evident, Parikh recognized his ongoing issues with his nerves while on the court.

“I’ve always been really serious when I get on the court for a match, I’m always very focused,” Parikh said. “I’ve struggled with nerves in the past and I still do, but I think that this last tournament I did a pretty good job of controlling them.”

That’s where the mediation made all the difference.

“Mentally, I was a lot stronger,” Parikh said. “Meditation and focusing on what I can control and letting go of things that I can’t. Just focusing on each point and not focusing on the outcome too much.”

That focus coupled with the preparation has set the standard for the other players on the team.

“He’s been such a great leader for our team,” Condes said. “He’s such a great role model for all the other guys. When we’re at practice and he’s out there hitting, they see how serious he is, they know how hard he works, so they know how hard they have to work if they want to get at least somewhere near his level.”

Parikh is a four-star recruit according to to and has drawn interest from schools such as Brown, Cornell and Dartmouth.

Next year, Parikh plans to take a gap year and restart the recruiting process.

“Some of the schools that I wanted to go through didn’t follow through,” Parikh said.

Even with the gap year, Condes still believes Parikh has a bright future.

“I’m sure that he won’t waste any time, and he’ll improve his game tremendously in that year,” Condes said. “I’m sure he’ll end up playing (collegiate tennis), I know that’s what he wants to do and I know that he will.

“I think he’s reached pretty much all of his goals, and so if his goal is to play, he’s going to play.”

High school softball: Salpointe rallies to top Tucson

Salpointe Catholic softball coach Amy Baray-Rocha wasn't happy with the effort her team was playing with late in Wednesday night's elimination game against eighth-seeded Tucson High.

So the No. 6 Lancers regained focus to grab hold of the situation, on their way to a 13-7 win at Amphitheater.

Now Salpointe plays No. 5 Phoenix Arcadia at Rose Mofford Sports Complex on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., in the loser quarterfinals of the Division II state tournament.

“This game was all this team, my team,” senior starting pitcher Brianna Aguilar-Beaucage said. “We were down. I was down, I wasn't as sharp as I could have been, but this team lifted me up. That's it, this team did it all.”

Salpointe trailed 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning before putting together a five-run rally with two outs. The first run scored on a miscommunication between Tucson senior catcher Arriana Santa Maria and senior third baseman Vanessa Marmion that resulted in a throw ending up in left field.

“It was kind of a double error, and those are two seniors who we rarely see that from,” Tucson coach Danielle Rodriguez said. “Our catcher didn't know it was a full count, so she was going to third base anyways and she wasn't paying attention. We kind of opened it up for them.”

Two batters later, with the bases loaded, Salpointe senior captain Megan Flores singled home two runs to tie the game. The Lancers followed with two consecutive singles to tack on two more runs to take a 6-4 lead

Salpointe recorded four singles and four walks to score five runs in the frame, all with two outs.

“That inning was so much fun, you just build off that,” Aguilar-Beaucage said. “Hits are contagious and no one wants to be that person that ends the rally, so everyone was trying their hardest to keep it alive.”

Aguilar-Beaucage shut down Tucson’s bats for a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth before the Lancers erupted for seven runs in the bottom frame

Back-to-back bases-loaded walks by Trejo put Salpointe up 9-4. Two batters later, sophomore catcher Erika Marquez hit run-scoring infield single. Then sophomore Yannira Acuna followed with a three-run triple off the centerfield fence, giving Salpointe a 13-4 lead.

“It just took a team effort, we all said we're going to hit the pitcher and get on base,” Acuna said. “We took it one at-bat at a time and we just stuck together to know we'd come out on top.”

Even with a nine-run deficit, Rodriguez knew her young squad wouldn't give in. She said that has been one of her team’s more defining qualities this season. Trejo made it interesting by slugging a three-run shot over the right-field fence but that was as close as the Badgers got.

“Since this is such a young group, it’s so easy to get down on yourself, and I'm not going to lie, I had to pick myself up,” Trejo said after the loss. “Since we're so young, that's how we came back to rally, because of our enthusiasm and fight. We still have a few more years, so they have nothing to lose, that's how we came back a bit.”


Salpointe's White Christmas Named Best High School Musical in So. AZ

Salpointe Theatre's production of White Christmas won the Southern Arizona Musical of the Year Award from the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, Ben Vereen Competition on Sunday, May 8. Congratulations to the cast and crew on this prestigious award!

Salpointe upsets Mountain View in volleyball playoffs

High hopes quickly turned to hanging heads as visiting No. 11 Salpointe Catholic knocked off No. 6 Mountain View 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-23) to advance in the Division II state tournament.

Winners of 10 of their last 11, the Lancers (14-4) avenged an early-season, five-set loss to the Mountain Lions (16-2), who had won 13 straight heading into the postseason.

“We hadn’t had enough time together yet,” said Salpointe coach Heather Moore-Martin. “I definitely feel like we’re doing the things that we talked about at the beginning of the season and now they’re finally coming to fruition with some hard work in practice and determination to get better."

Back in the postseason for the first time since 2011, and hosting for the first time, the season as a whole still has to be considered a win for Mountain View under first-year head coach Lindsey Spivey.

Up next for Salpointe is a trip to play at No. 3 Glendale Ironwood (15-2) on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. for a trip to the semifinals.

The Lancers were the last team from Southern Arizona to make the round of four, back in 2013. That also happens to be the last time Salpointe appeared in the postseason.

The Lancers shook off a quick start by Mountain View to control the majority of the first two sets.

A 9-3 run in the second gave the Mountain Lions life at 21-18, but they were unable to claw their way back to even by set’s end.

It was more of the same in the third until Mountain View made a move late to tie it at 17-17, and eventually taking a short-lived 20-17 lead before Salpointe closed the match with a 8-3 run.

“They wanted to try and push us further on their home court,” said Moore-Martin. “I thought our team did a good job handling the pressure of that moment.”

Pacing the Lancers offensively was junior Luke Wallace with 14 kills.

“His leadership is just really important to us,” said Moore-Martin. “He does a good job of telling us to pick our ‘stuff’ up when we need to and he does a good job of saying great job when we do.”

Junior Jackson Breshears and sophomore John Dunn tied for second in putaways with seven apiece.

Defensively the team finished with double-digit blocks, including six by Jackson Baker.

Fellow juniors Parker Miron and Ian Hanus finished with four each, while Wallace had three. Baker also finished with 40 assists.

Second-place finish 'something to be proud of' for sand Lancers

In only its second season in existence, Salpointe Catholic’s girls sand volleyball team had a chance to make history.

The No. 2 seed arrived at the Division I state tournament hoping to do something that had never been done before — defeat top-seeded Xavier Prep in the final round.

But the Lancers just didn’t have enough to overcome the Gators, falling 5-0 at Gilbert Mesquite High School.

“It’s all over their faces how upset they are and that’s the kind of competitors they are,” Salpointe coach Heather Moore-Martin said. “No one wants to come to the state final and go out losing.”

The victory marked Xavier’s fifth straight state title. The Gators have dominated the sport since it became a sanctioned sport in 2012. Salpointe finished the season with a 9-4 record.

“This is our second year,” Moore-Martin said. “I don’t want them to be upset that they lost when they gave a great fight.”

Sophomore Alanna Duarte said her team knew Xavier would be a tough matchup. The Lancers lost to the Gators 4-1 back in their regular season match in March.

“We all had to get really mentally ready and really excited to play and compete with a really great team,” she said.

Salpointe’s No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 teams took the court first Wednesday. All three teams were swept in straight sets, giving the Xavier a 3-0 lead. The No. 1 and No. 2 teams played their matches next, even though Xavier had already clinched the state title.

“When we were watching the first three matches we were talking, saying ‘We had such a great season. There’s no reason to just quit,’” Duarte said. “We had to keep pushing.”

Duarte and Peyton Lewis fell behind 1-0 to Xavier in their first match, but battled back to win the second and tie things up at 1-1. Carly Lowry and Allie Weaver followed suit, tying their match up at 1-1 after winning the second game. Xavier eventually went on to win both matches 3-2 for the clean sweep.

“They’re just a great program,” Moore-Martin said of Xavier. “ They’ve been around a while so they have the benefit of experience.”

Still, Duarte, a sophomore, said she was pleased with what her team had accomplished.

“The second year, being a state runner-up?” Duarte said. “That’s something to be proud of.”


Salpointe tops Sabino in girls tennis, moves on to state semifinals

Despite playing in the hottest portion of the day with temperatures approaching 100 degrees, Salpointe Catholic’s girls tennis team defeated No. 11 Sabino 5-3 at the Tucson Racquet Club on Wednesday, in the quarterfinals of the Division II state tournament.

Third-seeded Salpointe moves on to the semifinals of to take on No. 2 Notre Dame Prep at Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale on Friday at noon. Top-seeded Catalina Foothills, which has reached seven straight championship matches, faces No. 4 Buckeye in the opposite semifinal.

The Lancers started out strong on Wednesday by taking the first three singles matches of the day, but dropped two of the next three singles matches to take a 4-2 lead after doubles play.

Salpointe’s No. 1 singles player, senior Isa Anaya, lost her match in straight sets (5-7, 2-6) to Sabino’s No. 1 Janine Fernando. Meanwhile, Salpointe’s No. 2 singles player senior Hailey Swanson defeated Sabino’s No. 2 Lucy Brownell in straight sets (6-3, 6-2).

Sabino closed the gap by taking a set in doubles play to make it 4-3, but Salpointe’s No. 2 doubles team of Natalie Valcke and Emma Kinnison defeated Sabino’s No. 2 team of Brownwell and Kelsey Glassberg 8-3 to secure the victory.

“We were kind of expecting (the match to be close) after the last one, but we’re really proud of ourselves,” Anaya said.

Looking forward, Salpointe has an off day before hitting the road to take on Notre Dame, which defeated No. 15 Chandler Prep 6-0 in the first round on April 27 and No. 7 Page 5-0 on Wednesday.

Notre Dame is a perfect 15-0 on the season and is one of just two teams ranked ahead of the Lancers in postseason play.

“I’m really looking forward to playing Notre Dame,” Salpointe coach Theresa Sperduto said. “They always play tough, we always play tough, so it’ll be a fun match. I’m looking forward to it and my girls are ready.”  


Perfect game by Aguilar-Beaucage powers Salpointe

Behind a perfect game by senior Brianna Aguilar-Beaucage, sixth-seeded Salpointe Catholic cruised to a 10-0 win in five innings over No. 22 Cave Creek Cactus Shadows in the second round of the Division II state tournament.

“I don’t really think about what I’m doing, I just go out and hope to get them out and I didn’t realize until the end,” said Aguilar-Beaucage, who struck out four. “Everyone was telling me it was a perfect game, so that’s exciting.”

Salpointe (19-5) plays No. 3 Sahuaro on Thursday at site that will be determined. Sahuaro beat the Lancers 5-2 in March.

“Brianna’s a workhorse,” Salpointe coach Amy Baray-Rocha said. “She is fun, energetic, exciting to watch and that’s what she put on today. It was just a blast to sit back and watch her have fun with her friends.”

Freshman outfielder Malaealani Baray-Rocha, infielder Alex Parkhurst and sophomore infielder Frankee De La Cruz each had two RBIs for the Lancers.

Salpointe, which lost to Cienega in last year's Division II state championship game, finished with 10 hits and nine RBIs. The Lancers have won four of their last five.

“It was exciting, all our hard work showed on the field today and what was most impressive is that you could tell they were playing for each other,” Baray-Rocha said. “When one didn’t get it done, the other one made sure they would get it done the next time and that excites me.”

Salpointe's Parikh gets revenge, captures second singles championship

The last time Yash Parikh was across the net from Carlos Hassey in the state singles tournament, Parikh was looking to record back-to-back championships when Hassey spoiled that effort, defeating the Salpointe Catholic then-junior in straight sets in the 2015 semifinals before going on to win the title.

Fast forward to Saturday’s 2016 finals match, with the roles reversed and Hassey now looking to repeat as champion. Parikh’s only option was to return the favor.

Parikh, the top seed in Division II once again as a senior, held on to take the first set 7-5 over Hassey before dominating the second set 6-1 to claim his second career title at Paseo Racquet Center.

Despite anticipating a potential rematch with the second-seeded Hassey, a junior from Surprise Shadow Ridge, Parikh succeeded in blocking out any possible distraction, surrendering just two games in five matches leading up to the final.

He maintained that even keel against Hassey, though he did admit afterward to reserving a small part of his motivation for memories of last year’s loss.

“Maybe a little bit,” he said with a smile. “But I was pretty focused and I just wanted to play well. And I got it done.”

Parikh has several college offers but said he may take a “gap year” to work on his game and assess his athletic and academic futures. He allowed Hassey to come back from traiing 5-2 in the first set, but responded to close him out 7-5.

Then, riding a wave built on his own momentum along with Hassey’s frustration, Parikh thundered to victory, allowing Hassey just one game in the second set.

“He plays a very aggressive game, so he can go on streaks,” Parikh said of his opponent. “I just focused on covering the court and trying to keep the ball deep.”

Catalina Foothills’ Abby Watson also got her second career championship Saturday, though as a sophomore, she’ll have the chance to add two more.

After winning the Division II doubles title with partner Kirtana Bhat last season, this year Watson teamed up with fellow sophomore Halle Zadro to capture the crown.

The second-seeded pair of Watson and Zadro took down the tournament’s top seed in the final, winning 6-2, 7-5 over Alexandra Lehman and Alyssa Heid of Scottsdale Notre Dame.

Rincon/University’s Lindsey Pesqueira was another Southern Arizona sophomore knocking off a No. 1 seed in a final on Saturday, as the second-seeded Pesqueira defeated Alexa Cooke of Scottsdale Notre Dame by a 6-2, 6-4 score.

Pesqueira said she rediscovered her aggressiveness at times in the match against Cooke, though after three missed opportunities to close the match, she had to take a breath and dial that aggressiveness down to record one more winner.

“I was overthinking it a little,” she said. “After the third match point I was like, OK, I’m not going to try to overpower everything. Just stick with the game plan, and it’ll work.”

Also claiming a title Saturday were Brandi Swenson and Carly Caylor of The Gregory School, who won the Division III girls doubles championship with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Thatcher’s Hailey Greer and Brooklyn Angle.

Salpointe to play for Sand Volleyball Championship

Salpointe (9-3) will be playing for the Division I Sand Volleyball championship Saturday night against Xavier Prep (13-0). Xavier has only lost one match since the sport began in 2012 and the Gators have won all four state championships that have been held since then.

Salpointe lost to Xavier 4-1 on March 7. It was the first sanctioned match between the two schools. Salpointe ran a partial schedule last year and has now qualified for the state playoffs in the first year the program was eligible.

Ironwood Ridge (4-5) was not eligible for the post season this spring since the school only played nine matches instead of the required ten. Salpointe defeated Ironwood Ridge 4-1 on April 20.

The AIA was the first association in the nation to sanction sand volleyball as a sport and the Nighthawks hosted the first-ever duals competition in the nation this past March at the University of Arizona. The top Xavier pair of Macy Gordon andCierra Flood won the Gold Bracket of the “CatBox Classic” while the third Salpointe pair consisting of Arica Christensenand Ariana Snyder won the Silver Bracket.

Parikh powers Salpointe boys to first-round swept in tennis playoffs

Salpointe Catholic's boys tennis team opened the Division II state tournament with a comfortable 5-0 win over Chandler Prep on Tuesday.

The sixth-seeded Lancers, who have reached the state finals in three straight season, advance to play at third-seeded Buckeye Verrado in the quarterfinals next Tuesday.

“I think the guys played hard," Salpointe coach John Condes said. "It’s important to come out focused and ready to play and they did. They played hard right from the beginning and didn’t take anybody lightly and I think it showed in the results.”

Salpointe senior Yash Parikh beat Chandler Prep’s Grant Knight 6-0, 6-0. Parikh is the No. 1 seed in the singles state tournament and will try to win his second individual championship on Saturday.

The closest set on Tuesday was the first in the No. 2 match-up between Salpointe sophomore Jack Mandala and Chandler Prep junior Austin Barney. Mandala won the match 6-3, 6-2.

“It’s a good feeling, the guys like that,” Condes said. “I guess it just keeps us confident.”

Salpointe was on of __ Southern Arizona teams to advance on Tuesday. Top-seeded Catalina Foothills, the two time defending state champ, won 5-0 in Division II action as did No. 2 Pusch Ridge Christian and No. 8 Nogales.

No. 9 Desert Christian was the lone local team to advance in Division III action, as eighth-seeded Tanque Verde forfeited the match. The Eagles reached the championship match last spring.

Since losing to eventual No. 1 seed Catalina Foothills on April 14, Salpointe has won three straight matches, 8-1 over Phoenix North Canyon, 8-1 over Ironwood Ridge and over the Titans on Tuesday.

Salpointe finished as the state runner-up in Division II in 2014 and 2015 and in Division I in 2013.

Verrado beat No. 14 Flagstaff 5-4 on Tuesday. Parikh said the Lancers can beat their seed if they play their best.

“I think Yash was correct when he said we have a chance to beat our seeding,” Condes said. “We’ll find out I guess next Tuesday. Another tough team but I think the guys are ready to play.”

Before the elite eight of the team tournament though, top seeded Parikh will go for the singles title this weekend at Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale.

“It’s going to be a tough weekend, so I've just got to fight hard,” Parikh said.

On Friday afternoon in the quarterfinals, Parikh will face unseeded Kenneth Arrick from Scottsdale Saguaro. Parikh said he hasn’t played Arrick in a really long time, since he was around 10 years old.

Parikh won 6-0 in every set in the first three rounds of the tournament except one.

Four of the top five seeds in the singles tournament are from Southern Arizona. If Parikh wins, he would face Nogales’ Alexis Ton or George Jiang from Catalina Foothills in the semifinals.

Condes said Parikh focuses well and doesn’t underestimate opponents.

“He’s done very well,” Condes said. “He’s so zoned and focused when he gets into a match and plays, you never have to worry about him being some where else.”

The other Lancers playing this weekend are Mandala and senior Cyrus Grygutis, the fifth seed in the doubles tournament. They will face unseeded Andrew Ekmark and Kevin Kirsch from Phoenix Country Day on Friday in the quarterfinals at Paseo.

“They’ve been doing really well,” Condes said. “We’ll have a good first match, a tough one, so we’ll see what they do but they’ve been playing well together. They’ve only lost one game in the three matches they’ve played.”

Former Salpointe standout Denny commits to Arizona Wildcats

Former Salpointe standout Talbott Denny tweeted this afternoon that he will finish his college career at home, as a grad transfer for the Arizona Wildcats.

Denny played three seasons for Lipscomb then sat out last season with a torn labrum. He is graduating with an engineering degree and was looking to jump into a graduate program somewhere else next season. Denver, Portland State and Santa Clara were among those expressing interest.

"He loves his hometown and it’s a cool story," said Salpointe coach Brian Holstrom. "He's a hard worker, a bulldog, a tough kid who will bring physicality."

Tucson Power coach David Thomas, who coached Denny with the Tucson Heat program, said Denny's toughness may have rubbed off on Kansas-bound former Arizona Power forward Mitch Lightfoot during their practices together.

"I'd like to think Talbott helped Mitch be as tough as he is," Thomas said. "When I would do the pad for some of our drills, I'd have bruises on my chest because he'd go through it.

"He's going to go to Arizona and be a more of a role model to the younger guys with his work ethic. He'll be a great practice guy. The way T.J. (McConnell) brings it in practice is the way he is."

The addition of Denny gives Arizona 11 expected scholarship players for next season.

Hance powers top-ranked Salpointe past Sunnyside for complete-game win

Salpointe Catholic’s baseball team sent 11 batters to the plate in the first inning Tuesday night on its way to registering eight hits and scoring six runs. But the Lancers knew all too well the game was far from over – especially going against a scrappy Sunnyside squad riding a seven-game winning streak.

Right they were.

Senior pitcher Branden Hance struck out nine for the complete-game win and top-ranked Salpointe held on for a 6-5 victory on the road to bounce back from its first regular-season loss last week. The Lancers, ranked first in Division II, scored 10 runs in the first inning of that game at Phoenix Desert Vista, before losing 15-13.

“These guys show up ready to play, we just have to figure out a way to sustain for seven innings or however long we play,” Salpointe coach Danny Preble said. “We haven’t done a good job of that the last couple weeks, playing a full ball game.”

At first, it looked as if Salpointe was going to quickly dispose of Sunnyside, in a rematch of a state tournament game a year ago.

A two-run single by Robby Campillo and a two-run home run by Alex Hernandez put the Lancers ahead 4-0 before the sixth-ranked Blue Devils had even recorded an out.

Senior right fielder Alex Diaz, who led the game off with a single, put Salpointe up 6-0 with a two-out RBI single after Sunnyside’s Angel Castillo relieved starting pitcher Adam Moraga.

“We know we have an explosive offense,” Diaz said. “We just have to have the same intensity throughout the whole game.”

Salpointe (21-4 overall) was unable to get any offense going from there, however, as Castillo caused headaches at the plate. At one point, he retired 14 straight Lancers, while Sunnyside continued to inch its way back into the game.

The Blue Devils scored twice in the first inning and then made it 6-3 in the third, when senior Marcos Larranaga led off with a home run to left. Two innings later, Larranaga scored on a two-out RBI single by Saul Suazo to make it a two-run game.

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Sunnyside (16-8 overall) pulled within one run of the Lancers in the bottom of the sixth when Moraga scored on an error that also sent the tying run to third base with two outs. But Hance came up with a strikeout to end the inning and keep the Lancers ahead.

“It’s really tough knowing the fact that we could have won, that’s what hurts the most,” Castillo said. “We had opportunities to produce runs, but we just didn’t capitalize.”

After Castillo retired the side in the top of the seventh, Hance trotted back out to the mound for Salpointe and notched two quick strikeouts before Sunnyside catcher Joseph Molina got on with a two-out single. But Hance worked Castillo into a groundout one batter later, sealing Salpointe’s win.

“It’s huge,” Hance said. “It builds confidence, especially against a good team like this. We’re going to face a couple more good teams to finish off the season, going into the playoffs, and it builds some good momentum for us.”

NFF honors top football scholars

The Southern Arizona chapter of the National Football Foundation honored their 19th scholar-athlete class at the Doubletree Hotel on Sunday night.

The group annually selects ten graduating senior high school football players and one University of Arizona player as recipients of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, Scholar-Athlete Scholarship Award.

This year’s recipients included:

Dylan Eickmer (Salpointe Catholic)
Jake Ksiazke (Salpointe Catholic)
Andrew Filiberti (Sahuaro)
Tristan Peterson (Canyon del Oro)
David Ogas (Morenci)
Cody Cropp (Pusch Ridge)
James Raica (Pusch Ridge)
William Walker (Cienega)
DeAndre Williams (Tucson)
Dionte Flores (Flowing Wells)
Casey Skowron (University of Arizona)

The mission of the Southern Arizona Chapter of the NFF-CHOF is to promote and develop leadership, character and academic excellence through amateur football.

These ten outstanding young men are selected on the basis of stringent criteria focusing on citizenship, academic scholarship and athletic achievement.

One of the ten senior high school honorees, will be nominated for the National Football Foundation National High School Scholar-Athlete Award to be presented in December 2016 in conjunction with the 59th Annual National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

Former Wildcat and Los Angeles Rams defensive assistant Chuck Cecil was the keynote speaker at the event.

Salpointe's Marks signs with New Mexico State to cap off 'best year'

As the old saying goes, when one chapter ends, another begins.

While the school year races towards the finish, high school seniors all over the United States are preparing for their lives after graduation. For athletes, some will find themselves continuing on with their respective sports, donning new jerseys in the upcoming year.

For Reilly Marks, the change in colors won't be too big.

The Salpointe Catholic senior signed to play soccer for New Mexico State next season. The Aggies sport crimson and white, a look that is somewhat similar to Salpointe's maroon and gold.

The Star caught up with Marks at Wednesday's signing ceremony to reflect about her time with the Lancers and her future at New Mexico State.

The Road Less Traveled

Marks began her soccer career at Cienega, where she was an immediate impact player.

She saw time at the varsity level right away, but was injured halfway through both her freshman and sophomore seasons.

Marks transferred to Salpointe before her junior season and had to sit out the 2014-15 season. Once her senior year came around, she simply wanted to make the most of it.

“I waited this full year and finally it came," Marks said. "I was like, ‘Okay, this is the year.'"

The best year

Marks didn't let anything slip away in her final season of high school soccer.

She helped lead Salpointe to the Division II state championship match and a 23-2 record. Marks scored three goals and hit the winning penalty kick in the state semifinals against Ironwood Ridge.

"I wanted a state championship but I think that just being able to play in it and put everything I had on the field, and as a team, not everyone gets to say that," Marks said.

Reaching the state finals and playing the full season has been nothing short of an incredible way for Marks to end off her prep career.

“This year was kind of like the best year I’ve ever had for soccer,” Marks said. “It’s more than I could have dreamed of."

What Lies Ahead

Marks will continue playing forward at New Mexico State and hopes to work her way into a starting role on coach Freddy Delgado’s squad.

“I chose this school because I really like the head coach, and though I will be playing out of state, it is relatively close to home,” Marks said. "I’m just very excited to be a part of the Aggie family and to see what will hold in the future.” 

Marks said that Delgado played soccer with her club coach, Charlie Kendrick. The campus and other players were deciding factors for her commitment, in addition to the proximity to Tucson.

“It’s always been my dream to play Division-I soccer," Marks said. "I’m happy to say that I can finally say I’m a D-I soccer athlete."

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, April 13, 2016 at 2:45 p.m.

WHERE:  Salpointe Catholic High School, Hall of Fame; 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 students have committed to play sports at the college level:

Stevey De La Ossa, Crown College (Basketball)
Reilly Marks
, New Mexico State (Soccer)

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 1,100 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. 


Hance, Villa lead Salpointe past defending champion Canyon del Oro

Salpointe Catholic’s baseball team outlasted defending Division II state champion Canyon Del Oro 5-4 on the road Tuesday afternoon in a late-season clash between two top-10 teams.

Behind a complete game by senior Branden Hance and two RBIs by junior infielder Manny Villa top-ranked Salpointe Catholic remained perfect in regular season games and avenged last year’s state quarterfinals loss to the ninth-ranked Dorados.

“It was a good ball game, it was a fun ball game,” Salpointe coach Danny Preble said. “We knew what we were going to get when we walked in here; they’re well-coached, a good bunch off ball players, we knew it was going to be a good ball game.”

The Lancers (20-3) have won eight in a row since their 3-1 eight-inning loss to Nogales in the AMSA Transportation Lancer Baseball Classic. They’ve also won 16 of their last 17.

In the top of the seventh, Villa drove in the go-ahead run, giving Salpointe a 5-4 lead.

Villa had a game high two RBIs and Salpointe senior infielder Robby Campillo had a game high three hits.

“We played well, our defense was there, our pitching was great, our offense, never a doubt,” Villa said. “We just came out here and competed, did our job and came out with a win.”

Salpointe struck first in the top of the second when senior first baseman/pitcher Michael Forte drove in senior outfielder Jose Osete after Osete hit a double.

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CDO took the lead on a two-run home run by senior catcher Tristan Peterson in the third inning.

“I didn’t necessarily have my best stuff but I did a pretty good job working with what I had and I competed against a pretty good team,” said Hance, who struck out four, gave up six hits and had a WHIP of 1.43. “Their catcher hit a freaking rocket.”

Salpointe took the lead back in the fifth inning with three runs, including an RBI by Villa. CDO tied it up with a pair of runs in the sixth but left the bases loaded.

CDO beat Salpointe 16-15 last year in the state quarterfinals but Preble said he told the Lancers to not get over hyped for the game and the rivalry.

“It’s CDO and Salpointe and the rivalry goes back many years but for us it’s another ball game, we can’t make it bigger than it is,” Preble said. “You make the game bigger than it is and everybody puckers ‘oh god, what do we do’ in a tight situation, you just go an play the ball game and let the chips fall where they may.”

Teen's dog-waste stations could save Pima County money

A high school student’s Eagle Scout project could save Pima County tens of thousands of dollars.

Tanner Harline, 15, built 40 dog waste stations using PVC pipes that will be installed in the county’s dog parks.

The idea is for park users to stuff the pipes with reusable grocery bags instead of the pet-waste bags that the county buys, which are about 21 cents apiece and $105 for a box of 500.

“It’s good for the Earth and it saves money for Pima County,” the Mountain View High School freshman said.

In the past three years, the county spent nearly $40,000 for pet-waste bags, said George Kuck, operations maintenance manager for Pima County.

Having people donate their grocery bags would allow the county to eventually phase those out.

The existing bag dispensers are also pricey, he said. They cost about $140 apiece. In contrast, Harline’s PVC pipe stations cost $30 each.

“It’s definitely savings to the taxpayers if we people would start to use these,” Kuck said.

Four Salpointe Catholic High School seniors caught wind of Harline’s project and wanted to help out.

They gathered at Brandi Fenton Memorial Park on Friday morning to install some of the dog-waste stations at the Austin Fitzgerald Memorial Dog Park and other places along the Loop.

Jacob Cole, 17, said he and his friends were looking for ways to reach out to the community for a senior project. His mother, who works for the county, told him about Harline’s dog-waste stations.

“It was perfect for our senior project,” Cole said.

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One of the students, Evan Nye, 17, called Fry’s groceries to get 2,000 grocery bags donated. But those bags are just to get started, he said. Eventually, all the stations would have bags donated by park-goers.

Harline, who built the new dog-waste stations, said he worked with his father, a mechanical engineer at Raytheon, for the project.

The project was successful because of the help he got from his father, friends, people from his church and school, and his fellow scouts. Thirty-eight people showed up to help .

“I had leaders at every section, so that helped,” he said.

His father, Shawn Harline, said he was proud of his son’s initiative.

“He’s done a great job in working with the county and working with friends and individuals and Scout leaders to kind of come together as a group,” he said.

Junior William Juniper Wins 1st Place in Western Photographic Historical Society's High School Photo Contest

Congratulations to junior, William Juniper, an advanced photo student who recently won first place at the Western Photographic Historical Society's High School Photo Contest. His photo of a majestic saguaro cactus under the night sky was selected among entries from many other southern Arizona high schools. William will accept a cash prize for his work at an upcoming meeting of the Western Photographic Historical Society.

William Juniper '17 winning photo

Lancer Baseball answers Nighthawks challenge

Ironwood Ridge’s baseball team just could not get a shutdown inning Thursday afternoon in their 11-7 loss to top-ranked Salpointe Catholic at the Lancers’ Gleeson Field.

Every time the #14 Nighthawks scored, Salpointe Catholic (19-3) matched them in the next half inning.

Ironwood Ridge scored a pair of runs on sacrifice flies in the first to take a 2-0 lead but the Lancers answered off Nighthawks starter and losing pitcher Nick Estrella (3-2) in the bottom of the first thanks to a two-run single by Jose Osete.

Trailing 6-2 in the fifth, Ironwood Ridge (13-5-2) scored three times to get back to within a run, only to see Salpointe Catholic match with a three spot of their own in the bottom of the inning.

Same thing in the sixth, the Nighthawks scored twice but so did the Lancers.

Robby Campillo had three hits and three runs batted in for Salpointe Catholic, ranked #1 in Division II. Tommy Garcia drove in a pair of runs and Alejandro Hernandez hit just the second home run of the season for the Lancers.

Garcia (6-0) went all the way on the mound to get the win for Danny Preble's crew. The senior right-hander allowed five earned runs on seven hits.


Salpointe soccer standout Reilly Marks fulfills Grandpa’s wish, will play in college

We caught up with Salpointe senior forward Reilly Marks and asked her to comment on her dream to play Division I soccer and all the struggles and obstacles that got in her way but couldn’t stop her.

Relatively unknown in high school circles due to a transfer her junior year, Marks came on strong for Salpointe in what turned out to be a dream season for the Lancers, a 23-2 record, a top seed in the state playoffs and a runner-up finish.

It was hard not to notice her play on the field and the rest of the media slowly started to catch on also. She earned All-Southern Arizona First Team status and was a D-II Player of the Year.

You have to actually go to matches to see the teams, the players, the strategy and what the coaches are attempting to do. Box scores are only part of the story and Marks has an incredible one. Her effort in the state championship was more than evident to those who witnessed the game.

In her words:

“My family and I were presented with some devastating news in December of my junior year – my grandpa was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. That was so hard for me, he was my number one fan, he came to almost every single game. I played for him.

High school had just ended and I was so excited to play again, since I wasn’t able to because I had transferred to Salpointe Catholic. It was around the time of New Mexico States ID camp. Of course I was nervous, but after the camp had ended Freddy (Delgado), the NMSU head coach, had offered me a scholarship. I was so excited, it had been my dream ever since I was a kid to play Division I soccer.

The next week we had an NPL game in Phoenix. It was against New Mexico Rush. I was actually playing defense for this game because we had no subs. I took a corner kick and the ball came back to me, while the defender from Rush ran into my knee. I heard a pop and it was the worst pain I had ever been in. Needless to say I tore my MCL.

Devastated, I had to tell Freddy knowing that he would have to see what my recovery process would be. Meanwhile my grandpa’s cancer had grown. The next weekend, March 3rd to be exact, my grandma suffered a massive heart attack. Then, March 5th, my grandpa passed away.

I remember the last thing he told me was, “Don’t ever give up on your dreams, don’t let anything stand in your way.” If he hadn’t told me that I don’t know where I’d be today.

After a full year of work and training I am proud to say nothing stood in my way, and I did not give up on my dreams, because I gained back that scholarship and am able to say I have committed to play DI soccer for New Mexico State.”

Salpointe's softball team aiming for a state finals return

Every time Salpointe Catholic’s softball team steps onto the field, it does so with the kind of confidence and bravado that comes from competing for state championships.

This was no different when the Lancers hosted Tucson High on Thursday afternoon.

Senior pitcher Brianna Aguilar-Beaucage gave up two hits for the complete-game victory while Salpointe cruised to a 7-1 win, snapping Tucson’s four-game winning streak.

“Tucson High is a great team so coming out we knew we had to be on top of our game,” Aguilar-Beaucage said. “We’ve been stressing timely hitting, good defense, and good pitching and we came out here and did that today.”

The victory improved Salpointe’s record to 14-1 overall, one year removed from reaching the Division II state championship game.

“Every day these girls know that these teams are coming out to get them,” said second-year coach Amy Baray-Rocha said. “They know they have to perform and they perform for each other and that’s the key. They are not out here for themselves, they’re out here to play to the best of their ability for Salpointe.”

This year the team returns some very talented and key players including senior and captain Aguilar-Beaucage, who is 7-1 with a 1.10 ERA. She has tallied 50 strikeouts in 51 innings pitched.

“The group of girls, we have work hard,” Aguilar-Beaucage said. “We expected to get back to the state title game and win it this year.”

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The team is ranked third in the Division II behind Ironwood Ridge and Canyon del Oro. Salpointe plays both in the next two weeks, when it can prove that it is capable of making another deep tournament run.

Baray-Rocha and her team understand that they need to face the remainder of the season one game at a time.

“That is going to be the key and they do a good job of that,” the coach said. “They really do, their energy stays connected, and that’s up to them for wanting it for each other.” Read more.

Salpointe, Sahuarita among Tucson's top teams in first baseball rankings

Salpointe Catholic's quest to make another deep run in the Division II state tournament appears to be right on track.

The Lancers debuted at No. 2 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association's first baseball rankings of the season, which were released Wednesday morning.

Salpointe, which pulled within one with of a championship appearance last spring, is led by a well-balanced lineup and a starting rotation that has combined for an accumulative ERA of 2.09. Senior hurlers Tommy Garcia and Branden Hance have surrendered 18 earned runs in 71.2 innings pitched for 10 wins.

With wins over top-25 ranked teams including Sahuaro, Sierra Vista Buena, Cienega, Rincon/University and Desert View, Salpointe appears to be the leader of the pack of squads in Southern Arizona.

Tucson High, last year's Division II state-runner up, is ranked No. 6 while defending state champion Canyon del Oro is No. 11 but which has faced tough competition throughout the country.

Sahuarita debuted No. 2 in the Division III rankings and has lost three games by a combined eight runs. The Mustangs  play No. 8 Nogales on April 19.

Catalina is the No. 3 ranked team in Division IV. After opening the season on a eight-game losing streak, the Trojans have reeled off seven-straight wins. The last month of games slated for the Trojans will help determine whether how far they can go.

Three-time defending state champion Desert Christian opened up at No. 7 in Division IV. With a lineup that's outscored opponents 134-54 in 14 games, the Eagles are primed to make a run for a fourth-straight state championship.

Here's a look at local programs who landed in the top 25 of each division of the first rankings:


2. Salpointe Catholic, 6-0

6. Tucson, 5-1

11. Canyon del Oro, 4-2

12. Rincon/University, 4-2

13. Sahuaro, 5-2

14. Catalina Foothills, 5-2

15. Sunnyside, 4-3

16. Ironwood Ridge, 4-2

18. Cienega, 3-2

24. Sierra Vista Buena, 3-4

Salpointe beats Cienega 5-1 in state softball rematch

Salpointe defeated Cienega 5-1 Tuesday in a rematch of the Division II state championship game last year where the Bobcats prevailed 9-2. The Lancers (13-1 overall, 8-1 in power-ranking games) have reloaded despite the loss of seven seniors while Cienega (9-9, 3-3) is still trying to find an identity.

Salpointe broke into the MaxPreps Top 25 nationally after winning the Bishop Gorman Kick Off Classic in Las Vegas last week.  The Lancers came into the week ranked 12th nationally according to MaxPreps and 48th in the computer rankings. Either way, the team is back and a lot of it has to do with the return of Brianna Aguilar-Beaucage to the circle.

Pitching is almost everything in softball and the Lancers reached the title game last year thanks in part to senior ace Delfina Morales (17-7) and junior Aguilar-Beaucage (11-1). Cienega, on the other hand, dominated the field thanks to the work of senior Kayla Green (19-5).

Aguilar-Beaucage is now the seasoned senior ace and that's huge in softball while Cienega is going with a crew of young, worthy but inexperienced hurlers in sophomore Anicela Parra, freshman Emily Maddux and junior Shae Bushey.  Look for the Bobcats to find their way once their crew gets more work.

Parra got the start for Cienega Tuesday and sophomore Mikayla Santa Cruz took the circle for Salpointe. Santa Cruz won a couple of games in Las Vegas and she, like Aguilar-Beaucage last year, is getting valuable pitching time to prepare for this season and the future.

Santa Cruz gave up two hits in the top of the first to Taylor Lambert and Kaitlyn Anderson but she escaped with no damage and shut down five batters in a row until Aguilar-Beaucage replaced her with one out in the top of the third.

Meanwhile, Parra had some difficulty early and loaded the bases on walks in the bottom of the first but a groundout RBI by Megan Flores that scored Yannira Acuña was all she would give up.

Salpointe added two unearned runs in the bottom of the second with freshman Malaealani Baray-Rocha connecting on a single to score fellow freshman Dian Montano and Acuña after an infield error extended the inning.

Baray-Rocha is the daughter of head coach Amy Baray-Rocha and her father Oscar is an assistant coach. Amy Baray-Rocha was the Arizona Big School Coach of the Year last season.

"It feels great to be with my family everyday," Malaealani explained. "We are together at every game and it helps with our team chemistry and our team motto."

The Lancer team motto is, "Keep Smiling, Keep Shinning" according to Malaealani.

Salpointe scored two more in the bottom of the fourth after Acuña scored on an error and Flores knocked in Baray-Rocha. Bushey took the circle for Cienega with one out in the fourth and she held the Lancers the rest of the way despite loading the bases in the sixth where a double-play helped her end that threat.

Aguilar-Beaucage stopped six Bobcat batters in a row until sophomore Miranda Carley connected on a pinch-hit single with two outs in the top of the fifth. As a freshman, Carley batted .489 with six doubles, five triples, four home runs and 28 RBIs. It was one of the top performances at any level last year.

Sydney Kratzert followed with a single to put two on and Abby Doughty scored Carley to cut the lead down to 5-1 but Aguilar-Beaucage shut down the next seven of eight batters to close out the game for Salpointe.

"We have a lot of big shoes to fill from last year when we were state champions," Carley said. "But we practice hard and have a lot of effort and are trying to help out our seniors (Micaela Barber and Kratzert) have success this year again."

Carley committed to Cal-State Fullerton after her incredible freshman season.

The first AIA/MaxPreps power rankings will come out on Wednesday.

Salpointe continues to find footing in second year of sand volleyball

Tucked away toward the back of the Tucson Racquet Club, Salpointe Catholic’s sand volleyball team took an important step towards qualifying for state in their first home match of the season on Wednesday afternoon.

The Lancers (2-2) swept Tempe Corona del Sol on a sunny mid-70s spring afternoon to pick up their first section win of the still-young season and equal their win total from a year ago.

“Last year was fun, this year we’re trying to take a step in a more competitive direction,” said Salpointe coach Heather Moore-Martin, continues to double as the boys indoor coach during the spring. “We are asking more of them. More focus, more determination.”

With the win, the Lancers moved into third place in their league at 1-1 – an important jump considering the top four teams from each of two nine-team sections qualify for the postseason in Division I.

Arizona was the first state association to add sand volleyball as an official sport, starting in 2011. In all, the state now has 27 teams, which is up from 18 a year ago.

Salpointe’s second-year program was the first high school from Southern Arizona to get involved but Ironwood Ridge jumped in on the fun by adding a program this year.

“I think it’s just great that I-Ridge has picked it up,” Moore-Martin said. “It’s another, ‘Hey we’re not going to be quiet down here.’ Now that we’ve said here we’re ready, we’re going to be forces to reckon with.”

The Lancers, however are still looking to fill one more regular season match after a pair of programs folded to start the year, leaving them one short of the 10-match regular season needed to be eligible to reach the state tournament.

Moore-Martin is hoping to add a second match against I-Ridge to fill the opening. Her Lancers are scheduled to close out the season against the Nighthawks on April 20.

With multiple TUSD teams now considering adding sand volleyball, the hope reamins to have an all-Tucson section in the near future.

Salpointe’s top pairing, sophomores Alanna Duarte and Peyton Lewis went undefeated in five matches last season. Taking up the sports in middle school, this year the libero-setter duo have split their four matches so far this season.

“They have a history,” said Moore-Martin. "They’ve had a lot of success and now some teams have put some pressure on them, so now they have to figure out how to deal with adversity.”

Added Duarte: “There’s a lot more touches on the sand. It’s just you two; you have to recover quickly.”

The Lancers added plenty of firepower of their own in their second season, when Carly Lowry and Allie Weaver showed up to be the No. 2 pairing. Lowry was the Star’s girls volleyball player of the year in the fall while Weaver is the team’s top blocker.

The seniors are 3-1 on the season, the same as Salpointe’s third pairing of junior Maggie Schepelmann and senior Arica Christiensen, who also helped the Lancers reach the Division II state semifinals in the fall.

“It’s really challenging to pick it up at first because it’s really hard to move in the sand,” Lewis said. “It’s just a totally different game but once you get the hang of it, you just fall in love with it.

"Playing on a beach-like setting, it’s just a more relaxed environment. The wind, the sun, the sand. A bunch of different factors. It’s so much fun.”

Salpointe Softball Makes List of National Softball Top 25 Rankings

With a month having elapsed since the USA TODAY High School Sports/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Preseason Super 25, 11 new teams are in the first rankings of the regular season.

The Super 25 also has a new No. 1 as Curry (Jasper, Ala.) has moved up from its preseason spot at No. 8. The Lady Jackets are off to a 14-0 start in games through Monday.

Curry had a close call last week when Corner (Warrior, Ala.) pushed Curry to 11 innings.  Taylor Rowe delivered a three-run double to give Curry the 3-0 victory.

After losses to Flower Mound (Texas) and Deer Park (Texas), Preseason No. 1, Pearland (Texas) fell out of the Super 25.  While both losses were later avenged, Preseason No. 2 Mission Viejo (Calif.) fell to Los Alamitos (Calif.) and new No. 25 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) and dropped to No. 12 in this week’s poll.

The newcomers are led by three teams in the Top 5: No. 2 Etiwanda (Calif.), No. 4 Oakleaf (Orange Park, Fla.) and No. 5 LaGrange (Texas).

Also new to the Super 25 are No. 9 McCracken County (Paducah, Ky.), No. 14 Davidson (North Lexington, N.C.), No. 18 Bald Knob (Ark.), No. 21 North Fort Myers (Fla.), No. 22 American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), No. 23 Salpointe Catholic (Tucson) and No. 25 Mater Dei.

No. 3, Crown Point (Ind.), No. 13, Bishop Carroll (Wichita, Kan.), No. 15, Parkland (Allentown, Pa.), and No. 17, Keystone (La Grange, Ohio) begin competition later this month.  No. 24 Mount St. Dominic Academy (Caldwell, N.J.) opens on April 1.

The USA TODAY HSS/NFCA Super 25 will be released every Thursday through June 9.

Results from the Salpointe-Hosted Division II State Speech and Debate Tournament
Salpointe Catholic was proud to host the Division II State Speech and Debate Tournament on March 18-19. The Lancers were quite successful with the following results:
Policy Debate
Mary McNamara and Megan Truesdell - 3rd Place
Public Forum Debate
Katie Abughazaleh and Emily McIntosh - 3rd Place
Melissa Tevino and Kelsey Compton - 5th Place
Lincoln/Douglas Debate
Alain Gamas - Octo-Finalist
Emma Hagyard - Octo-Finalist
Meghan Muldoon - Octo-Finalist
Impromptu Speaking
Mary McNamara - 5th Place
Alain Gamas - Semi-finalist
Original Oratory
Katie Abughazaleh - Semi-Finalist
Congressional Debate - House 1
Katie Abughazaleh - 10th Place
Congressional Debate - House 2
Victor Andre Gamas - 9th Place
Congressional Debate - House 3
Mary McNamara - 8th Place
Salpointe uses 10-run first to beat Marana in own tournament

Salpointe Catholic’s baseball team rushed to play in the AMSA Transportation Lancer Baseball Classic on Wednesday afternoon, some 90 minutes after school was dismissed.

Just as the Lancers hurried over to the Reid Park Annex, they didn’t waste any time getting out to a big lead.

Salpointe put together a 10-run first inning on its way to a 14-4 win in five innings against Marana, in the third day of its the Lancer Baseball Classic.

The Lancers’ players were dismissed from school at 2:25 and didn’t have much time to get ready for the first pitch, scheduled for 4 p.m.

“The first inning it showed a little bit, trying to get locked into the ball game,” Salpointe coach Danny Preble said. “They gave up a couple of runs and then everybody was like, ‘OK, we’re playing a ball game today, let’s go.’’”

Salpointe senior Alvaro Braun made his first varsity start for the Lancers and he was facing familiar foes.

“It was pretty exciting because it was my first start of the season and it was against my old team, this was my club ball team,” Braun said.

Marana scored two runs in the first inning after senior outfielder/pitcher Nick Tinsley notched an RBI.

“After the first I was able to control my fast ball and get my confidence back and I was able to get the job the done,” said Braun, who pitched all five innings for the complete-game win.

Preble said he was happy to get another arm for the rotation.

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“We didn’t really know what to expect but he came out and threw strikes and battled for us and did good things,” Preble said. “I’m happy for him, everybody else is too.”

Salpointe struck back by batting around in the bottom half of the first.

Senior outfielder Jose Osete got a pair of RBIs in two at bats – first on a triple and then a sacrifice. Senior infielder Elijah Roth also knocked in two runs in the first with a double.

Roth and junior infielder Manny Villa had three RBIs for Salpointe and Marana junior first baseman Cameron Sample had three RBIs.

Salpointe tacked on runs in the second and third to get the mercy-rule win and remain undefeated through its first three games of the 20-team tournament. The Lancers also beat Rincon/University 2-1 and Tecumseh (Oklahoma) 10-0. Bracket play begins Thursday and the championship game is scheduled for Friday night at 7 p.m.

“I think we scored 10 or 11 in the first,” Preble said about Wednesday’s win. “It’s really easy to go into coast mode and then we could end up playing seven (innings) in a game that should have been five so I was happy with that.”

Salpointe Catholic to Host AIA Division II Speech and Debate State Championship Tournament

Salpointe Catholic High School is proud to host the 2016 AIA Division II Speech and Debate Championship Tournament on Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19.

High school students from across Arizona will be competing for the State Championship in the following events. 

Speech: Program of Oral Interpretation, Poetry Interpretation, Prose Interpretation, Dramatic Interpretation, Humorous Interpretation, Expository Speaking, Extemporaneous Speaking, Original Oratory Speaking, Impromptu Speaking, Duo Interpretation, and Duet Acting

Debate: Congressional Debate, Lincoln/Douglas Debate, Public Forum Debate, United States Policy Debate

Salpointe’s full roster of 25 Speech and Debate members will be competing in a variety of these events. For a complete breakdown of the competitions, please click here for the tournament schedule.

WHAT: AIA Division II Speech and Debate State Championship Tournament hosted by Salpointe Catholic

WHEN:  Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19

WHERE:  Salpointe Catholic High School
                 1545 E. Copper Street

WHO: All Division II schools in Arizona with a Speech and Debate Team

“We are thrilled to host the Division II State Championship at Salpointe, which will give our community the chance to see the incredible talent and brilliance of high school students in Arizona. It becomes impossible to leave a speech and debate tournament and not feel energized about our future,” said Tony Gerrettie, Salpointe faculty and speech and debate head coach. “I'm particularly excited about giving our Salpointe students the chance to compete in front of friends and family as we hope to win state championships in our events. In my eight years as head coach, only one previous tournament has been in Tucson. It is so important that we are able to give our team a 'home' game.”

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 1,100 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.

Lancer Baseball Classic kicks off week of madness in Tucson

Tucson will have its own version of March Madness going on this week and the main attraction will be the AMSA Transportation Lancer Baseball Classic at the Reid Park Annex.

The 20-team event kicks off Monday and includes 14 local programs, along with others from California, Colorado and Oklahoma.

The Lancer Baseball Classic isn't the only show in town this week: Empire's baseball program is holding an eight-team tournament starting Wednesday, the same day Tucson High's softball team opens up the four-day Badger Invitational at Cherry Field. Track and field teams will also be competing at the Willie Williams Invitational hosted by the UA at Drachman Stadium.

Tucson-area baseball coaches agree that the level of competition in town is down this season compared to last, but this tournament will allow squads to see where they stack up against one another so they can make the necessary adjustments following spring break.

Here's a breakdown looking at five of the local teams to watch:


Record: 6-4

What they did last year: The Apaches were eliminated in the first round of the state tournament, a season after advancing to the Division II state championship game in 2014.

Star players: Senior Edgar Ambriz; sophomore Kevin Jimenez; junior Gera Lopez.

Team strengths: The Apaches are a versatile senior-laden squad and have shown early in the season they can win close games.

Big question: Can the the Nogales bats manufacture enough runs this year?

By the numbers: Through seven games, the Apaches are averaging four hits and have recorded just one stolen base.


Record: 4-7

What they did last year: The Sabercats ended the season 10-16 and missed the Division II state tournament.

Star players: Senior Maximillian Christoff; senior Peyton Payne; senior Jaime Garcia.

Team strengths: Sabino has a deep pitching staff, a solid top-half of the lineup and team speed.

Big question: Do the Sabercats have enough depth to make a postseason run?

By the numbers: In 11 games, seven Sabercat pitchers have combined for a 2.70 team ERA, with four complete games and two shutouts.


Record: 7-2

What they did last year: The Cougars ended the season on a five-game losing streak to a finish 16-11 and miss the Division II state playoffs.

Star players: Junior Sam Kalberer; junior Stockon Pringle; freshman Preston Clifford.

Team strengths: The Cougars feature a power-hitting lineup and a formidable backend of the bullpen.

Big question: Will there be an ace to emerge and lead the Sahuaro back to the playoffs?

By the numbers: Seven different players have logged an extra-base hit, the Cougars have combined for 15.


Salpointe Catholic

Record: 8-2

What they did last year: The Lancers posted a 27-7 record and came within one win of playing in the Division II state championship game. Salpointe's season ended with an epic 10-inning loss to Tucson High in the semifinals.

Star players: Senior Robby Campillo; senior Tommy Garcia; senior Branden Hance.

Team strengths: The Lancers can hit for average, power, steal bases and have one of the better starting pitching combos in Southern Arizona.

Big question: Is there a bullpen to hand the game over to?

By the numbers: Salpointe's offense is averaging 9.9 runs per game. It has clubbed 38 extra-base hits and tallied 30 stolen bases.


Record: 4-3

What they did last year: Finished the year 23-10, lost to Salpointe in the Division II state quarterfinals.

Star players: Senior Adam Moraga; junior Joseph Molina; senior Marcos Larranaga.

Team strengths: Strong starting pitching that can work deep into games and a lineup that will make contact and hit for average.

Big question: Is there enough power in the Blue Devils lineup?

By the numbers: In seven games, Sunnyside's pitching staff has combined for 49 strikeouts and 17 walks.


Baseball: Salpointe routs Cholla at Cowboy Up Classic

The Salpointe Catholic High baseball team lost some aces from last year's pitching staff, but Tommy Garcia proved that the cupboard is far from bare this season.

Garcia went the distance for the Lancers on Thursday night as Salpointe beat Cholla 11-1 in five innings at the Cowboy Up Classic at Kino Sports Complex.

Garcia allowed one run, four hits, while striking out two and walking three.

“We threw strikes. That was the big thing,” said Salpointe coach Danny Preble. “We lost a lot on the mound last year that graduated. So to see these guys come out and throw strikes the way they did was awesome.”

Cholla got the scoring started in the top of the first inning after Jordan Quintero grounded out down the first base line, driving in Chris Orozco from third.

The Lancers responded in the bottom of the first as Robby Campillo knocked an RBI triple to deep center, scoring Alex Diaz. Diaz then hit a two-run single in the bottom of the second to give Salpointe a 3-1 lead.

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Salpointe scored two more runs in the bottom of the fourth when Adrian Martinez attempted to steal second base. The ball was thrown home to prevent Ryan Sweetman from scoring, but a wild throw allowed him to score. Another bad throw to third allowed Martinez to score on the same play, giving Salpointe a 5-1 lead.

“Pitching is definitely important this year, because we don’t have the vast pitching lineup,” Garcia said. “Other pitchers and myself will be going long into games and trying to get as much innings in as we can.”

The Lancers scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth, including a two-run double from Jacob Landis. Cholla starting pitcher Chris Barraza pitched four innings, allowing five runs and four hits, while throwing six strikeouts and six walks.

Salpointe will play Sahuaro at 4 p.m. Friday while Cholla will face Gilbert Highland at 7.


Lancer Musicians Find Success

Lancer Musicians


GOLD JAZZ BAND - Our Jazz Band has been invited to perform an opening set for the Bob Lark Jazz Band at the most prestigious Jazz Club in Chicago, the Jazz Showcase. The invitation had been sent to us on the strength of our CD's and our past performances at other jazz clubs in Chicago on previous Chicago performing tours. This Jazz Club is in all of the jazz history books and is considered one of the most famous and revered in the United States alongside "Birdland" in New York City. What an honor!


ALL-STATE JAZZ BAND MEMBERS - Every year the state of Arizona holds auditions to create an all state Jazz Band consisting of the best Jazz musicians in the state. This year we have 3 Lancer musicians who made it (the most of any school in the state):


Erik Olson - Guitar 

Alex Melnychuck - Trumpet

Tino Tirado - Bari Sax


THE GRAMMY BAND - Every year the Grammys audition high school age musicians all over the world (through a live recording sent to the Grammys) to select the best 20 jazz musicians to form the Grammy Jazz Band.  This year our own Alex Melnychuck made the band on Trumpet! Alex spent 10 days in Los Angeles rehearsing, recording a CD, and performing at the Grammy nomination party on Saturday and the Grammy afterparty on Monday evening. What an honor!


REGIONAL BAND & ORCHESTRA FESTIVAL - Every year the state of Arizona holds auditions to create a Regional Band & Orchestra. The festival will be held at Sahuaro HS this Friday & Saturday.  We had several of our Lancer musicians make the groups. Here is the list:



Sarah Conger - Flute                          

Samantha Cozine - Oboe

Diego Lozier - Clarinet

Tino Tirado - Clarinet

Jecelle Muller - Clarinet

Madeline Wallen - Alto Sax

Joaquin Fischer - Trumpet

Emmalee Dotson - French Horn



Marisol Bejarano - Violin

Oscar Leon - Cello

Sergio Villalobos - String Bass

Ryan Blanchard - Oboe

Erik Olson - Trombone


ALTERNATES (who were next on list in case of a cancellation)

Kevin Scheuer - Tenor Sax

Isaac Ritchie - Tenor Sax

Guy Norris - Trombone

David Conger - Trombone

Anasofia Zavala - Tuba



Salpointe Presents Annual Willie Kane Humanitarian Award to Philip Lacovara, Ph.D.

Salpointe Catholic High School is honored to present the annual Willie Kane Humanitarian Award to Philip Lacovara, Ph.D., who was recognized on Friday, February 19 at Salpointe’s 28th 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.

Dr. Lacovara holds a doctorate degree in Physics from Boston College and his impressive resume most recently includes roles as founder of Tucson-based high-tech companies Ambalux Corporation, Solar Ventures, LLC, and Ultramarine EO, LLC. Earlier in his career, Lacovara worked for Breault Research Organization, Inc. and Kaman Aerospace Corporation.

Lacovara is also heavily involved in the community. He has served as a member of Salpointe’s Board of Directors since 2006 and chaired the Board from 2009-2013. He also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the University of Arizona, College of Science and the University of Arizona, College of Medicine, Steele Children’s Research Center. Dr. Lacovara is also the Founding Chair, Pastoral Council for St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, Diocese of Tucson.

“Phil Lacovara is one of Tucson’s unsung heroes. He lives his life in service to others by modeling his Catholic faith, creating a positive economic impact in our community, serving the University of Arizona with leadership and support, and demonstrating love and loyalty to his family, friends and colleagues. Salpointe is honored to salute Phil with the prestigious Willie Kane Humanitarian Award,” said Kay Sullivan, Salpointe’s president.

Dr. Lacovara and his wife, Jane, have three Lancer graduates: Philip ’03, Margaret ’05, and Peter ’08.

Previous winners of the Willie Kane Humanitarian Award include Mark Mistler in 2015, 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 Philip Lacovara on being named the 2016 Willie Kane Humanitarian of the Year.

Foothills, Salpointe roll to 1st-round wins

Junior Jared Irwin and sophomore Sam Beskind combined for 35 points to help fuel No. 10 Catalina Foothills past No. 23 Queen Creek 73-56 in the first round of the Division II state tournament on Thursday night.

The Falcons (15-4) led from start to finish, but it was a 22-9 third quarter that broke the game open, despite missing senior standout Nik Niehls, who sat out the game because of a “school decision.”

Both teams were coming off losses in their section championship but Foothills had won eight straight before that.

“We knew we had to come out hard,” Irwin said. “We lost in sectionals so our last game was pretty awful. We knew we had to make up for it and everything just went our way.”

The Falcons travel to play No. 7 Scottsdale Saguaro on Saturday for a chance to move on to the state quarterfinals Foothills hasn’t made it to the quarterfinals since 2010 when it was in 4A-I and the brackets were just 16 team deep.

The Falcons have now outscored opponents 594-467 over the last 10 games.

The Bulldogs (12-9) did pull within nine with three minutes to go but Foothills’ balanced scoring was too much to overcome. Six of seven players who scored, finished with at least eight.

“We were able to overcome some deficiencies and big kids stepped up and made big time plays,” said Falcons coach Doug D’Amore. “They took good shots within the offense. Nothing was really forced tonight. I think that was a big difference.”

Irwin scored a team-high 18, including 11 in the first half, nine of which came on threes. He finished with five makes from three-point range.

Beskind was second on the team with 17 points, including nine the second half. He was one of three players, along with seniors Ryan Green and Bobby Padilla, to score at least six in the fourth. Green finished with 11.

-Jason Harris

No. 15 Salpointe Catholic 81, No. 18 Tempe Marcos de Niza 51

Salpointe Catholic Lancers cruised to an easy 81-51 victory over No. 18 the Tempe Marcos de Niza on Thursday night, moving on to the second round of the Division II state tournament.

Salpointe senior forward Ethan Parkhurst scored 26 points and junior guard Cameron Miller added 19. The Lancers play at second-seeded Avondale Agua Fria on Saturday night.

“It means a lot because this is my first playoff game,” Parkhurst said. “I just wanted to come out and give the team my all. I just tried to attack the rim as much as I could because I felt that if I attacked the rim, I’d get my team started.”

Salpointe started the game off on an 8-0 run in the first couple of minutes. However, the Padres stormed back on a run of their own and only trailed by one at the end of the first quarter. The Padres held their largest lead of the game at 28-22 after Zurell Livingston knocked down two 3-pointers. However, Salpointe ended the first half on a 9-0 run to take half at 31-28.

“It’s the time of year you want to peak and I think we do a lot of things to peak at this time,” Salpointe coach Brian Holstrom said. “I thought even in the first half when things weren’t going great, a guy like Alec McCall is diving all over the place. He got a standing ovation in the first half. That kind of effort and the way that were peaking I hope is going to take us all the way.”

The second half was all Salpointe. The Lancers stepped up their defense and jumped to a quick 41-31 lead by the 5:21 mark in the third quarter. The Lancers never stepped off of the throttle as they continued to extend their lead and put the Padres away early.

Livingston led the Padres in scoring with 14 and Mason Clark added 13.

Salpointe falls just short of state soccer title

As Scotts-dale Notre Dame celebrated winning its second straight state title on the opposite end of the pitch, Salpointe Catholic girls soccer coach Becky Barry gathered her players and reminded them what this season meant.

The Lancers posted a 12-0 record in regular-season matches, earned the No. 1 seed in the Division II state tournament and took a 13-match winning streak into their first state championship appearance in 15 seasons.

That run came to an end Saturday, when third-seeded Notre Dame scored the lone goal in the 45th minute and held on for a 1-0 victory to repeat as the Division II state champion. The loss might sting now, Barry said, but the foundation for the future has been set.

“The expectation is to be here,” said Barry, the team’s second-year coach. “Now they know what it feels like.”

The Saints also put and end to Salpointe’s season in 2015, when they beat the Lancers 1-0 in the state quarterfinals before going on.

Since that loss, Barry’s squad outscored opponents 71-7 and won 23 of 24 matches before falling to Notre Dame at Gilbert Campo Verde. It was Salpointe’s first loss since Dec. 30, when the Lancers fell to Sahuaro 1-0 at The Grove Invitational.

“This season was remarkable,” Barry said. “I’m so proud of the way that the girls worked, and they bought in to everything we asked of them.

“To go this far and to be the No. 1 seed and to make it back to the final for the first time in 15 years, it’s a little bittersweet, of course, when you don’t come out on the other end with a win.”

Salpointe struggled to get any offense going throughout the match. Notre Dame controlled possession for most of the first half, but couldn’t find the net.

The Saints broke though five minutes after halftime, when Hannah Osland knocked in a goal set up by a shot from the left side by Lindsay Shipley.

Salpointe sophomore goalkeeper Madison Hargis knocked down Shipley’s shot, but Osland was there to capitalize on the deflection.

“We weren’t covering their weak side, and we had been blown past on the outside so I had to go cover, and there was no one else back there,” said Salpointe senior defender Hope Seasholes. “It’s a tough loss, but we’ve come really far, and it means a lot to this program. I think, from this loss, we can build on it, and they know what to expect next year.”

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Salpointe had a few chances to find the equalizer. Its best opportunity came late, when sophomore Paloma Teran launched a far shot from the left side, in front of the Lancers’ bench.

The shot drew a positive reaction from the Salpointe crowd, but sailed just off the mark, over the far end of the goal.

“I knew it wasn’t going to go in because it was far right, but I thought if I would have turned my hips more then maybe it would have gone in,” Teran said. “Overall, we just didn’t have enough shots, and that was the only one I had all game.”

Overall, Salpointe returns its top eight goal scorers along with some key defensive pieces, including Hargis.

“I’m excited about what I have coming back,” Barry said. “We have several seniors that we’re going to miss, but it’s a great core group coming back.”

Teran, who scored a team-high 12 goals this season, believes the Lancers can get back to the title match.

“I definitely expect to see them next year, and I know we’ll be ready,” Teran said. “We’re just going to work so hard. I hope they’re ready.”

Salpointe girls outlast I-Ridge in PKs, move on to D-II championship

It took a few seconds for Reilly Marks to realize what she had just done but then it hit her pretty quickly – in the form of being mobbed by her teammates.

The senior drilled the winning shot Tuesday night in the Division II state semifinals as Salpointe Catholic’s girls soccer team edged No. 4 Ironwood Ridge 4-3 in penalty kicks, sending the top-seeded Lancers on to their first state championship match in 15 years.

“I can’t explain it in words,” said sophomore defender Isabella Almazan. “Just to go with all of our seniors who deserve this – we’ve worked so hard as a team and we’ve proven ourselves a lot from last year – it’s indescribable.”

Salpointe (23-1 overall) takes a 13-match winning streak into Saturday’s state final against No. 3 Scottsdale Notre Dame, which beat the Lancers in the quarterfinals a year ago, before going on to win the title. That was one of the first things second-year coach Becky Barry brought up in Tuesday’s post-game huddle at Tucson High.

“We’re going to have to play great soccer from the beginning and for the entire 80 minutes, we can’t let down like we did tonight” Barry said. “But these girls are prepared. They’ve done their work all year, now they get their moment to shine on the big stage and we’ll see how it goes.”

Salpointe controlled possession for most of the first half Tuesday night and took a 1-0 lead in the 48th minute on a goal by freshman Kalista Kakou. But I-Ridge junior Kelly Koppy found the equalizer 12 minutes later, on a rocket from about 40 yards out.

Both teams had some opportunities over the next 40 minutes but neither could convert, sending the match into penalty kicks.

When I-Ridge and Salpointe faced off on Jan. 26, it almost ended in a scoreless draw before Marks hit the lone goal in the 93rd minute on a free kick. So nobody was really surprised to see it go down to the wire once again.

“Every ounce of my body knew that we were going to see them again during the state tournament and I just think it was a very even game,” Marks said. “It came down to PKs, it shows just how hard and physical that game was.”

Neither team made its first attempt but Almazan converted on her kick in the second round, moments after sophomore goalkeeper Madison Hargis stepped in front of a shot from I-Ridge’s Mariah Loya.

“I just knew it was either now or never,” Almazan said.




Salpointe had a 3-2 advantage heading into the fifth round but the Nighthawks tied it up when senior Alexis Hernandez knocked in her shot. As Marks walked up to attempt her kick after, she thought she needed to make it just to keep the Lancers alive – she didn’t realize that a score would send Salpointe on to its first finals appearance since 2001.

That was clear after Marks chipped the ball into the upper right corner of the goal, because she casually turned around and began walking back toward her teammates – until the whistle sounded, that is. Then she threw her arms up and sprinted into a mob, only to end up on the bottom of a dog pile.

“I thought if I didn’t make it, we were going to lose,” Marks said. “It was a team effort – it wasn’t just me. It was the girls that scored before me, it was Madi’s saves, it was everything, we all put in a team effort.”

I-Ridge coach Sean Watkins wasn’t frowning about the season-ending loss afterwards, especially looking at how much experience he lost from last year’s team. However, he was disappointed his squad couldn’t capitalize on one of its chances late in the second half or overtime, after the Nighthawks swung the momentum to their side with Koppy’s goal.

“For these kids to step in and do what they did this year,” Watkins said, “I’m so freaking proud of them I can’t even stand it.”

Salpointe RB Dorame overcame setbacks, signed with Briar Cliff

It was a roller coaster ride of a high school varsity career for Zach Dorame.  And it began with a look from the summit.

Dorame, a running back at Salpointe Catholic, was the backup on the Lancers' 2013 undefeated Division II championship team.  That SC squad was one of the most dominating in state history outscoring its opponents 697-101 and its closest game all season was a 46-20 final over Chaparral in the title game at nearby Arizona Stadium in Tucson.  In that sophomore year, Dorame rushed for 510 yards (5.8 yards per carry) and six touchdowns.

The starter that season, Jay Williams, now plays his college ball at Brown in the Ivy League.  That left the door open in Dorame's junior year to be main ball carrier.  In the opener, he rolled up 145 yards, on just 10 carries, and scored a touchdown in the Lancers' victory over Buena.  It seemed Dorame was primed to do big things with this opportunity.  But, then the harsh physical reality of the game reared its head.

"Unfortunately, in the second quarter of my game versus Sabino (Week 2), I dislocated my shoulder," Dorame said in an e-mail interview.  "I was out for three weeks.  I came back in the Campo Verde game only to dislocate it again."

Dorame had a total of three dislocations on his left shoulder.  If he wanted to give it a go for his senior year, season-ending surgery was his only option.

Playing for the defending champs had its perks as Temple and San Diego State both expressed interest - before the injuries.  While recovering, he sent away his sophomore film mixed in with that first game in his junior year to smaller schools.  Interest came from Johns Hopkins, Puget Sound, Jamestown, and Briar Cliff.

Jeff Thomas, the head coach at Puget Sound continued to recruit Dorame during the summer before his senior year through phone calls, texts, and e-mails.  After the fourth game in Dorame's senior year, he finalized his decision and committed to the Division III school in Tacoma during the Lancers' bye week.

"I believe it was a blessing in disguise," Dorame said of his commitment in September.  "Because the next week, I injured my right shoulder in the game against Skyline in the fourth quarter.  I sat out one week only to dislocate it the day I came back to practice."

He came back for the Lancers' Homecoming game, but dislocated it again after getting hit.  Ironically, while getting ready for a doctor's appointment, Dorame dislocated the right one for a third time putting a sweatshirt on.  Just like the left one, three dislocations.  That led to another surgery in late October.

Meanwhile, it's important to note that Division III schools cannot offer athletic scholarships, only academic ones.  Dorame was still committed to Puget Sound and was set to receive $30,000 after filing his FAFSA paperwork and through scholarships from the private university.

The only problem, the tuition cost was $62,000 per year.

"I did not want to be in debt coming out of college, so that's when I decommitted and reopened my recruitment," Dorame said.

The door that opened came from Briar Cliff, an NAIA school in Sioux City, Iowa.  Assistant coach Andrew Krause was Dorame's recruiting coordinator and he has strong Arizona ties.  Krause coached at Ironwood Ridge when the Oro Valley school opened in 2002.

Dorame took a trip to Iowa to visit the school in mid-January.  While the cold weather might not have been pleasant, the relationships were.  Dorame committed a week or so later.  NAIA schools are permitted to give athletic scholarships.

"The thing that really sold me to Briar Cliff were the people that were extremely friendly and welcoming," Dorame said.  "The players that I roomed with were extremely down to earth and were from different parts of the United State.  I liked the diversity."

Dorame also noticed the amount of Southern Arizona players drawing interest from the Chargers.  In all, 14 players have signed with Briar Cliff for this recruiting class and eight live in the Tucson area.

Briar Cliff finished 3-8 last season and plays in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.  The Chargers have full intentions of changing that win-loss mark as they signed a record 38 players on National Signing Day last Wednesday.

In his senior year at Salpointe, Dorame was one of the team captains.  He said it was a great honor to him.

"My brothers (teammates) taught me that brothers stick together no matter how hard things get," Dorame said.  "You fight until you can't fight anymore and football is a lot more than just a game."

A couple people that have helped Dorame along the way are Carla Garrett and Jay Dobyns.

Garrett was the strength and conditioning coach at Salpointe from Dorame's freshman year until late last summer.  She is currently a strength coach at the University of New Mexico.

"She built a relationship with me that was a mix of a loving mom and a strict strength coach," Dorame said.  "She always expected my best and anything less was a failure."

Dobyns, the wide receivers coach at Salpointe, is also a former ATF agent.  He nicknamed Dorame "Water Bug" from one of the characters in the movie, Friday Night Lights. 

"Coach Dobyns and I built a great friendship over the last four years and he was the one man who supported me most during games, and especially with my shoulder injuries," Dorame said.  "From day-to-day life or football related topics, the man brought light, knowledge, and laughter into meetings, practices, or just regular conversations."

It's probably worth mentioning here that Dorame stands just 5-7 and 160 pounds.  As if the shoulder injuries alone weren't enough to overcome.

"Throughout my football career, I've had many people that have told me that I am too small to play football," Dorame said.  "Quite frankly, I don't think any of them thought I would make it this far.  Playing football in college has always been a lifelong dream."

Dorame is surgically repaired now and is increasing his mass before going away to college.  He plans to work hard this off season and be ready for Fall camp with BCU in August.

"I would love to be 5-10 or taller, but we don't always get what we want," Dorame said.  "What I lack in height, I make up for in heart.  You can measure height, but you can't measure my heart.  I will forever be a Tucson boy and I fully intend to rep for my city in Iowa."

Lancers win sets up Salpointe-Ironwood Ridge rematch

After Salpointe Catholic’s girls soccer team held off Ironwood Ridge in overtime two weeks ago, second-year coach Becky Barry wasn’t ready to look ahead to a possible postseason rematch against the Nighthawks.

Now I-Ridge is the only thing standing between the Lancers and a trip to the state finals.

Top-seeded Salpointe downed No. 9 Sahuaro 2-1 on Saturday afternoon for its 12th straight win, setting up a Division II state semifinal showdown against the fourth-seeded Nighthawks.

The two will face off Tuesday night at a location to be determined, and the winner will move on to Saturday’s state championship match in Gilbert. Salpointe beat I-Ridge 1-0 on Jan. 26 on a goal by Reilly Marks, who came up with a big assist against Sahuaro to help set up the rematch and put the Lancers within one win of their first championship appearance since 2001.

“We’re very excited, but we’re looking forward to Tuesday, and we’ll deal with that game first,” Barry said. “It’s definitely exciting to be able to build on the progress you make the year before, and the girls are very excited to play Tuesday.”

Salpointe (22-1 overall) was in the quarterfinals for the second year in a row, but managed to advance this time, thanks to strong defensive play and goals from Kalista Kakou and Paloma Teran.

Kakou, a freshman, scored in the 25th minute on an assist by Aryana Sanchez, putting Salpointe ahead 1-0 against the Cougars, who beat the Lancers 1-0 on Dec. 30.

“That was just amazing,” said Kakou, who has seven goals this season. “All the fans went crazy, and I was really happy because I thought that was going to be one of the winning goals.”

Sahuaro (14-5-2 overall) nearly took the lead five minutes before Kakou’s goal when senior Emily Gallagher sent a free kick from the center off the crossbar. The Cougars continued to press into the second half, but fell behind 2-0 in the 74th minute when Teran headed in her 12th goal of the season on a perfect cross from Marks, just inside the right post.

Even with the two-goal lead, Barry wasn’t celebrating.

“I think that is when you start to let your guard down and the other team picks it up, because they’ve got to find something,” Barry said.

Just as she predicted, Sahuaro made things interesting a minute later when Gallagher’s corner kick from the right side went off a defender and into the back of the net. But Salpointe’s defense locked down for the final five minutes to secure the win.

“We were right there multiple times, and certainly any one of those goes in, it changes the game,” Sahuaro coach David Kruszewski said. “Unfortunately for us, it didn’t go our way today.”

The Lancers were one of eight Tucson-area soccer teams to win on Saturday.

Catalina Foothills also advanced to the girls Division II semifinals, and will face defending champion Scottsdale Notre Dame.

Palo Verde’s girls moved on in Division III action, while defending state champion Walden Grove fell in penalty kicks. Pusch Ridge Christian and Tanque Verde both won on the road to set up a showdown for a trip to the girls Division IV title match.

Flowing Wells and Pueblo were the only local boys teams to win Saturday. Both will be in action Wednesday night.


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.