Monthly Archives: August 2003

high schools

Independence, Glendale start early

by Jason Stone

If the Independence football team is for real in 2003, the Patriots will get a chance to show it right away.
Independence and Glendale High School, two surprises during the 2002 season, will begin their seasons early this year as each team has scheduled a relatively new teams.
The Patriots travel to Desert Ridge, a Gilbert district school in Mesa, this week, while Glendale will play Yuma’s San Luis Sept. 26 and opens at Lake Havasu this week.
Glendale’s five other schools open next week. Here is a look at each of this week’s games:

Independence at Desert Ridge

Time: 7 p.m., Friday
Place: 10045 E. Madero (Mesa)
2002 Records: Independence 6-4, Desert Ridge 4-3
Independence will be looking to do something this year that it has not done since 1982 — go to the playoffs. Winning games like this week’s at Desert Ridge will go a long way at determining if the Patriots can reach that feat.
IHS achieved a winning season in 2002 for the first time since the Reagan Administration, but coach Kelley Moore is hoping the team can take the next step.

Glendale at Lake Havasu

Time: 7 p.m., Friday
Place: 2675 S. Palo Verde Blvd. (Lake Havasu)
2002 Records: Glendale 7-4, Lake Havasu 3-7
Glendale received statewide attention a year ago when it won its first five games before faltering in the Skyline Region season.
The late-season swoon kept the Cardinals out of the playoffs again, but the year felt like a success for long-suffering Cardinals fans who were used to mailing in a loss before the game was even played.
Glendale will try to build on its new-found respectability in the opener with a tough trip to Lake Havasu.
Havasu is in transition with its third head coach in three years. Glendale’s Mark Smith is now in his fourth season.

Published at glendalestar.com • Aug. 27, 2003

high schools

Ridge swimmers hope for repeat performance

by Jason Stone

There are three sure things in life: death, taxes and Brophy Prep winning the 5A state swimming and diving championship.
Of the last 24 state championship meets staged, the Phoenix Catholic school has won 23 of them, stumbling only in 1987 when the Broncos somehow finished second behind Dobson.
So, when the Mountain Ridge High School boys swim team finished second behind the swimming powerhouse last year, it felt like the Mountain Lions had won it all.
“We won the public school championship,” joked senior Danny Johnson. “Finishing second (to Brophy) is just as good as winning.”
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMountain Ridge had what coach Mike Ulrich called a “season you dream about” in 2002. Of the 11 swimming events held at the state meet, Mountain Ridge won five of them and took second in another.
It added up to a 2½-point win over Salpointe, another Catholic school, for second place.
Ulrich was named the 5A Coach of the Year and current University of Nevada-Las Vegas swimmer Kyle Goodrich was the conference’s Swimmer of the Year after winning the state 200- and 500-yard freestyle events.
Goodrich’s brother, Scott, meanwhile, was no slouch, winning state titles in the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke.
The brothers were also part of the state championship 400 freestyle relay team.
The younger Goodrich is back, as is Johnson, another member of the winning relay team.
Scott Goodrich is headed to the U.S. Olympic Trials in Long Beach, Calif., next summer.
If he fares well there, Mountain Ridge could have its first ever Olympian.
That fact alone has boosted the boys and girls teams at Mountain Ridge, where swimmers practice together.
“All the new freshmen here have something to look up to,” girls captain Nichole Szemerei said. “They can see what he has done and it boosts their confidence.”
Adds Allie Gilliland, another girls captain: “He’s got a great personality,” causing Goodrich to blush at the comment.
“He just makes it look so easy,” Szemerei said.
Goodrich’s presence, along with his brother’s last year, made everything look easy for Mountain Ridge.
Things could be tougher for the boys this year, however, with a handful of key point scorers graduated.
“It’s going to be hard to repeat last year,” Ulrich said. “But we definitely still have some talent.”
And maybe the girls have more talent overall, Ulrich said.
That was not the case two years ago when the school’s boys team dominated. While both teams won the Northwest Region championship a year ago, the girls finished 18 places below the boys at the state meet.
“We may not have the fastest swimmers, but we have a lot of depth,” Gilliland said. “Another team might get first place in an event, but we might have second, third, fourth and fifth and that’ll score us more points.”
The Northwest Region will have a new look this year after the Arizona Interscholastic Association realigned the regions last fall.
Gone are the Peoria Unified School District schools, and in are Central, Camelback and North, who are in the region for swimming only.
The region in other sports includes Alhambra, Trevor Browne and Maryvale, but those schools do not participate in swimming.
Ulrich is expecting to be pushed by North’s boys team, which took fourth overall at state a year ago.
Swim meets for most local teams begin Wednesday. The regular season runs through the middle of October and the state championship meets are slated for the end of that month.

Published at glendalestar.com • Aug. 27, 2003

colleges

Volleyball teammates reunited at GCC

by Jason Stone

Most high school graduates reunite after 10 years.
But for a group of former players on the Centennial High School volleyball team, the reunion only took a few months.
“We just picked up where we left off,” said Meghan Willneff, one of five former Centennial players on this year’s Glendale Community College volleyball team. “It’s nice knowing somebody and not coming into the cold.”
While it was not planned that way in coach Lisa Stuck’s recruiting, former Centennial players make up 38 percent of her team in 2003.
“It wasn’t like I said, ‘OK, I’m going to go sign the entire (volleyball) senior class over at Centennial,'” Stuck joked. “I recruited them individually for our needs and it was just a coincidence.”
It turned out to be a pleasant coincidence for Willneff, Emily Thomson, Kim Backus and Tonya Rooth. The four freshmen joined a team that already featured sophomore Alex Henson.
“When coach told me that so and so was coming and so and so was coming, I was like, ‘Wow, this is going to be a reunion,'” Henson said. “But I think we’ve all changed and we’re different people and that’s good.”
With only five sophomores returning, the former Coyote players are being heavily counted on to help lead GCC back to national prominence.
The Gauchos rode through an up-and-down beginning to the 2002 season before catching fire at season’s end to finish third in the nation.
“There are high expectations here,” said Rooth, a middle blocker. “We all know we’re coming to a good program.”
A rise in the level of intensity is evident in Stuck’s practices, giving the five-some a different perspective of high school play.
“Now, it seems like high school was just for fun,” Henson said. “This is totally different.”
Stuck’s high-energy practices have players diving all over the court, doing push-ups and sit-ups in the middle of intrasquad scrimmages, and treating practices like they were games.
“I try to make it fun for them,” Stuck said. “They are all working extremely hard, so I’m happy about that.”
Stuck has had the benefit of having a group of players who are used to playing together.
The sixth-year coach originally worried about the players spending too much time together, but through the first two weeks of practice, the situation has not been a negative.
“I know where they all are on the court all the time,” Henson said. “We already know how each other plays.”
Added Backus, who could see a good deal of playing time if Stuck chooses to go with a two-setter offense, “We’re very consistent playing with each other. Our off days aren’t that off.”

Published at glendalestar.com • Aug. 20, 2003

colleges

Coombs rebuilds GCC women’s program

by Jason Stone

If Rob Coombs had his way there would be no holes in the Glendale Community College women’s soccer team roster — or holes in the team’s field.
Coombs, the two-time state championship girls soccer coach at Cactus High School, inherited a roster full of nothing when he took over the team in April.
Former coach Chris Sidney, who doubles as the girls coach at Mountain Ridge High School, only had signed one player before his departure, and she did not even end up playing for the team.
With only five returning players, Coombs had to completely refurbish the roster, advertising everywhere but the want ads for players.
“I have been taking girls sight unseen,” Coombs said. “Fortunately, these are really nice kids with good work ethics and good abilities.”
Coombs is looking at the GCC job as a long-term process.
He has complained about the state of the team’s practice fields, which feature numerous divots from shot putters during track season.
He has asked the school to help fund a scoreboard for fans.
He has even lobbied for a GCC e-mail address, which is only reserved for full-time faculty and students.
“There is a lot to be done here,” said Coombs, who led Cactus to state championships in 1999-2000 and 2001-02.
The job begins Saturday when GCC travels to Scottsdale Community College to begin the regular season.
Only 13 players make up the GCC roster, meaning the team is a couple of injuries away from disaster.
But Coombs said the players who decided to come out this year are holding up nicely.
“We have some girls who have some ability,” Coombs said. “I had a feeling we were going to be short on numbers. Chris quite so late in the ballgame that some girls decided to do something else.”
Five returners will help lead the team, including forward Mia Delgado, a player on Coombs’ 01-02 championship team at Cactus.
Other sophomores include Brandi Yarco, a goaltender from Sunnyslope; Erin Jasper, a midfielder from Centennial; Megan Walker, a midfielder from Ironwood; and Erin Alonzo, a defender/midfielder from Independence High School.
Coombs rounded out the roster with all West Valley freshmen.
Former Glendale High scoring machine Yassel Hernandez, the Skyline Region’s Player of the Year last season, is in the fold, as are Lindsay Horner and Ashlie Trujillo, a pair of defenders from Ironwood.
Meghan Hagar, a player for Coombs at Cactus, decided to join, and Millennium’s Andriea Trevino should see a good deal of playing time at defender.
Other local players of note include midfielder Vanessa Shaw from Centennial and midfielder Courtney Woolgar from Sunrise Mountain.

Published at glendalestar.com • Aug. 20, 2003

colleges

Pasinski likes chemistry on men’s soccer team

by Jason Stone

Jon Pasinski experienced a season in reverse with the Glendale Community College men’s soccer team in 2002.
Instead of peaking at the end of the year, Pasinski’s team shined at the beginning. Injuries and a big letdown after beating national power Yavapai in an early-season match, derailed the Gauchos’ plans of making it past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in as long as people can remember.
“After we beat Yavapai,” the third-year coach said, “mentally, we then just sort of lost focus. It was almost like we had accomplished our goal. It turned out to be a tough year.”
GCC was ousted from the first round of the NJCAA Region 1 playoffs for the second straight year when Chandler-Gilbert Community College pulled out an overtime win.
Despite a general lack of high school talent hitting the junior college ranks this year, Pasinski said he is hopeful improved team cohesion will help get his team over the hump.
“We don’t have as much talent coming back, but the team has better chemistry,” Pasinski said. “We have harder workers at this point in the season. We don’t have any real superstars so everybody is going to have to elevate their games.”
Pasinski will find out if his hunch is correct Saturday when the Gauchos kick off the season with an Arizona Community College Athletic Conference match at Scottsdale Community College.
GCC must replace its leading scorer from last year (Justin Smith) and make up for the loss of six other regular starters.
That does not mean the cupboard is bare, however.
Starters David Wallace (midfielder from Ironwood High School), Matt Morris (forward, Ironwood), Steven Balliet (forward, Centennial), Jaron Downing (defender, Thunderbird) and Mark McGovern (midfielder, Greenway) all return.
Plus, GCC is hoping it has upgraded its goaltending position with the key recruit of former Mountain Ridge High School standout Joel Bott, the 5A Northwest Region’s Player of the Year in 2002-03.
“We had a lot of people come out for the team this year,” Pasinski said about the group of about 150 who tried out throughout the summer. “This is the first returning class of players we actually recruited, so these are players we like.”
Fifteen of the 20 players on the roster are on scholarship. The team was boosted by the addition of a trio of talented out-of-state recruits, who walked on the team. Maricopa County community colleges are only allowed to offer scholarships to players from within the county.
The ACCAC is expected to be tough again. At one point last season, four conference teams were ranked in the NJCAA Division 2 poll.

Published at glendalestar.com • Aug. 20, 2003