Monthly Archives: May 2005

high schools

Ironwood frosh leads list of state track winners

by Jason Stone

Some runners call track’s 800 meters the hardest race to complete. It is not a sprint, nor is it a distance run, making it tricky for some.
That does not apply to Ironwood freshman Leah Ybarra.
In only a handful of races, Ybarra went from randomly trying the event to state champion.
Ybarra won the 800-meter dash at the 5A state track and field championship at Arizona State University last week after picking up the event midway through the season “to help the team score some points.”
Normally a 100-meter sprinter, Ybarra has never lost an 800 race.
“I’m still really surprised,” the 15-year-old Ybarra said.
Ybarra held off city-foe Shelley Splittberger of Deer Valley in the 800, winning with a time of two minutes, 14.56 seconds, just .15 of a second ahead of Splittberger.
Ybarra wasn’t the only local state champion in the 800.
Mountain Ridge’s Reese Byerrum won his second consecutive boys 800 title by turning in a time of 1:52.09. He outpaced Deer Valley’s Chris Tabanico, who finished third at 1:56.00.
Ybarra and Byerrum helped their teams finish the highest among local schools.4c50a16f6c0e7.image
Ironwood’s girls finished with 36 points to take fifth as a team, behind South Mountain, Desert Vista, Flowing Wells and (Mesa) Mountain View.
Mountain Ridge’s boys finished in a tie for 12th.
Ironwood and Deer Valley’s boys teams nearly collected some state champions.
Ironwood’s Paul Gill took second in the high jump and actually tied the mark for highest jump at 6 feet, 10 inches. Teammate Skylar Hagg finished third in the long jump with a leap of 21-10.
In addition to Tabanico’s third-place finish in the 800, Deer Valley received a third place from Jason Thier in the discus.
Among local 5A girls, Ironwood was bolstered by points in six events beside Ybarra’s win.
The 4×100 relay team took third, while the 4×400 team finished fourth. Sarah Reeves picked up points in the triple jump (fifth) and long jump (sixth), while Kelsey Klein was sixth in the high jump and Valerie Scott took sixth in the 100 hurdles.
The 4A races at Mesa Community College crowned Greg Lacey a two-time champion.
The junior at Glendale High School, defended his state championship in the long jump and added the triple jump title to his resume.
Lacey leaped 22-6½ in the long jump and 44-8 in the triple jump to help Glendale finish 11th as a team, the highest of all local 4A boys teams.
Lacey’s brother, Craig, also picked up points with a fourth-place finish in the shot put.
Cactus and Apollo picked up points without winning any events.
The Cobras got a sixth-place finish from Josh Butler in the 800, while their 4×800 relay team took sixth.
Apollo’s Prince Amukamara (fourth in the 100) and Monti Washington (eighth in the high jump) scored the Hawks’ points.
In the 4A girls race, Cactus’ Jessica McDonald followed up a triple championship in last week’s Wells Fargo Region meet with a state title in the 400 to help the Cobras take second as a team.
McDonald turned in a time of 55.26 seconds in the 400 to win by half a second over Lake Havasu’s Meaghan Ryan.
McDonald also took third in the 100 and 200.
The Cobras were also helped by a second-place showing from Katherine Allen in the high jump. Allen leaped 5-4 to lose to Agua Fria’s Linda Ubah by two inches.
The Cobras’ 4×400 relay team also took second, while Cactus’ 4×100 relay squad ended up seventh.
Sophia Guerrero was fourth in the shot put to round out Cactus’ scoring.
Apollo, Glendale and Independence each had one state girls placer.
Precious Amukamara was sixth in the 200, while Dominque Mayberry was third in the 300 hurdles for Independence and Fantina Santiago was eighth in the discus for Glendale.

Published at glendalestar.com • May 22, 2005

lacrosse

Sting settle for second in NLL

by Jason Stone

Coming into the 2005 season, the Arizona Sting only had goals to make the playoffs.
But after the team advanced all the way to the NLL Champion’s Cup, the bar has officially been raised at Glendale Arena.
That’s OK with Sting coach Bob Hamley, whose team nearly beat Toronto for the league championship last week in only the team’s second year in Arizona.
The Sting, playing in only its fifth season overall — the team played three years in Columbus, Ohio, before moving to Glendale — made the playoffs for the first time, won their first postseason game and made their inaugural appearance in the Champion’s Cup game.
The Sting stayed close in the nationally televised game on NBC, cutting Toronto’s second-half lead to 12-11 when Cory Bomberry and Chris Seller scored.
But the Rock showed why they have won five of the last seven cups with a scoring barrage that pleased most of the nearly 20,000 fans in attendance, scoring five straight goals to put the game away.
The total of 19,432 made it the most watched lacrosse game in history. Toronto added to its championships in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003.
It was a bittersweet week for the Rock, which lost former coach Les Bartley to colon cancer last week. Bartley led Toronto to all its championships prior to this year.
The Rock were able to add a fifth banner under new coach Terry Sanderson, thanks to a defense that held Arizona super-scorer Dan Dawson to only one goal.
Craig Conn continued his hot play in the playoffs with three goals, while Jonas Derks collected three himself. Pat Maddalena and Seller each scored twice.
Arizona goaltender Mike Miron made 43 saves in the losing cause.
Conn and Seller scored early in the first quarter to give Arizona a surprising 2-0 lead.
But Toronto took advantage of some Sting penalties to score four of the next five goals to take a 4-3 lead after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, a pair of goals got Arizona back on top, but Josh Sanderson scored consecutive goals for Toronto to eliminate Arizona’s final lead of the game.
The Rock scored six of the last seven goals of the first half to give Toronto a four-goal lead at the break.

Published at glendalestar.com • May 22, 2005

high schools

Glendale jumper to defend state title

by Jason Stone

Greg Lacey knew by fourth grade that he was faster than most of his classmates.
But even he didn’t know then that he could jump farther than them as well.
“I liked running, but I hated jumping,” Lacey said, recalling his early years in track. “I just wanted something to do.”
It turns out the events the Glendale High School junior hated the most in elementary school are now his meal ticket to state stardom.
Lacey enters this week’s 4A state meet at Mesa Community College as the defending state champion in the long jump. He will try to defend that title and also win the triple jump, which he is favored to do.
Not bad for a guy who came out of nowhere to win the long jump state title last year.
“I think (opponents) still don’t even know that I won (state),” Lacey said. “Everybody thinks the other guy won.”
The win was not controversial — only surprising.
Moon Valley’s Julius Strayhand, who had a week earlier beat Lacey at the Skyline Region meet, finished his final round with a jump of 21 feet, 8¾ inches. That was better than any of Lacey’s previous bests.
But with little fanfare on his final jump, Lacey pulled off the jump of his life, stretching out for 22 feet, 2¾ inches, a half-foot longer than Strayhand.
“I thought I had scratched,” Lacey said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Lacey’s state championship medal might have surprised track fans, but Lacey is used to sneaking up on people.
As a member of the Cardinals’ football team, Lacey rushed for nearly 1,000 yards last fall, yet was not named to the All-Skyline Region team.
“I think that bothered him,” said Jason Wilke, Glendale’s football and track coach. “But by being a darkhorse, his work ethic has stepped up.”
Lacey won the Skyline Region meet in the long jump and triple jump last week and enters state ranked No. 1 in both events.
“It’s pretty good to be a clear favorite as only a junior,” Wilke said. “But (this) week is what matters. He can’t stand losing. That’s one thing I know about him.”

Published at glendalestar.com • May 11, 2005

lacrosse

Sting set for international stage

by Jason Stone

Saturday’s National Lacrosse League Champion’s Cup final in Toronto won’t be much of a road game for the Arizona Sting.
A good portion of Sting players live in the Toronto area and 18 of the 27 players on the active roster reside in Ontario.
That has Sting coach Bob Hamley a bit on guard.
“We need to get past some of the distractions of being at home,” Hamley said. “Hopefully, we (got) the family stuff out of the way early in the week.”
Sting players, who live in the Valley during the season, made the trip to Canada Monday in preparation for Saturday’s title tilt that will be televised nationally by NBC.
Practices were scheduled for Tuesday and today as the Sting attempts to win the West Valley’s first-ever professional sports championship.
Arizona has been playing with a nothing-to-lose attitude during the postseason, gutting out wins at home against Colorado and on the road at Calgary last week in the West Division finals.
The win over Calgary was big because it was the franchise’s first north of the border in five previous attempts and it came in front of 11,000 fans.
The Sting will be up against the same adversity this week against Toronto, a Canadian team that pulls in a big crowd.
The Rock won the East Division with a 12-4 record and beat Rochester 12-10 last week in the East Division final.
The Sting will have to contend with three of the top five scorers in the league, all of whom have more than 100 points.
Colin Doyle (42-69-111), Blaine Manning (39-66-105) and Josh Sanderson (31-71-102) present a big challenge for the Sting defense.
The Rock scored a league-high 227 goals this season and have gone 7-2 at home, including the playoffs.
The Sting are hoping to counter with offensive force Dan Dawson, who finished seventh in the league in scoring, but whose 48 goals were only one less than the league leader.
“We just need to keep it going,” Hamley said. “They’re going to have a big crowd and we need to be ready.”
NBC will televise the championship game for the first time.
First drop begins at 12:30 p.m.

Published at glendalestar.com • May 11, 2005

lacrosse

Sting to play for NLL title

by Jason Stone

Devastated. A failure. A season to forget.
Those were words used in Calgary newspapers this week after the Roughnecks were upset at home in the West Division finals of the NLL playoffs.
But those negative words never sounded better to the Arizona Sting.
That’s because the Sting added another “biggest win in franchise history” tag last week when they upset the defending-NLL champions in front of a rowdy, packed crowd.
The Sting scored five goals in the final minutes to erase a four-goal deficit to post an 19-15 win.
“I think we caught them a little off guard, especially when they’re up by four,” Sting coach and general manager Bob Hamley said. “They might have been packing their bags for Toronto (the site of the championship game). I think they’re all in a state of shock.”
Instead, it is the Sting who are going to Toronto, the East Division champion, to play in next week’s NLL title game.
It won’t be any championship either. NBC is televising an NLL playoff game for the first time.
“It’s a groundbreaking day for our league,” Hamley said.
The Sting advanced to the title game for the first time ever. In three years in Columbus, Ohio, and two years at Glendale Arena, the Sting had not won a playoff game until beating Colorado two weeks ago.
Arizona upset Calgary by rallying for a win, something the Sting had done in more than half of their wins this season.
The Sting were down 13-10 after Tracey Kelusky, a former player for Columbus, scored less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
Arizona then rolled to six straight goals — from six different players — to take a three-goal lead late in the game, stunning the packed crowd at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
The Roughnecks got life with consecutive goals to trail by only one in the final minutes, but Arizona got those goals back just 15 seconds apart and ran out the clock. The Sting scored an empty-net goal in the final seconds.
“Anything less than a championship is failure,” Calgary forward Lewis Ratliff told the Calgary Sun.
The comeback did not shock the Sting’s coach.
“I don’t think we’re as a group surprised,” Hamley said. “We knew we could do it. It’s just a matter of putting it together.”
The Valley-based players will leave for Toronto the beginning of the week and the team will practice Tuesday and Thursday.
For local fans wanting to make the trip, tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.ca, although the game is expected to be a sellout.
In the first meeting this season, Arizona scored only four second-half goals and lost to the Rock 18-10 to snap a three-game winning streak.

Published at glendalestar.com • May 4, 2005