Tag Archives: Mountain Ridge

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

high schools

Prep teams battle for state positioning

by Jason Stone

Bats will ping and guns will sound as local baseball, softball and track teams get into playoff form this week.
As of Tuesday morning, a handful of local baseball and softball teams were still alive for their respective region championships, prior to next week’s state competition.
Cactus softball, looking for its third-straight 4A championship before conferences are split next year, will host the championship of the Wells Fargo Region Friday.
Deer Valley, meanwhile, ended as the top softball team in the 5A Northwest Region and earned the No. 1 seed at the postseason tournament. Mountain Ridge finished second.
In baseball, Mountain Ridge has the No. 1 seed for this week’s 5A Northwest Region championship series against Goldwater, the team that upset the Mountain Lions in regionals last year.
Ironwood, meanwhile, entered the 5A Desert West Region tournament as the No. 3 seed.
Track and field championships for the Northwest, Desert West, Desert Sky, Skyline and Wells Fargo regions will also be held this week as teams get one last chance at qualifying for next week’s state meets.

Published at glendalestar.com • May 4, 2005

high schools

Mtn. Ridge hopes pitching leads it to a 5A title

by Jason Stone

There is a big difference between regular season baseball and the playoffs.
Like in the NBA, where defense and guard play becomes important in the postseason, successful baseball teams usually rely on good pitching and a deep bench to excel in the playoffs.
Mountain Ridge learned this the hard way last year, when the Mountain Lions dominated the regular season, but were upset in the region tournament and lost early at state.
“Last year, we had a good 1-2 punch in pitching, but other guys didn’t step up like we needed to in the playoffs,” Mountain Ridge second-year coach Rob Kiepke said. “This year, I think we have a pretty deep team. It’s not just the top two (pitchers).”
But what a top two they are.
Brian Budrow and Corey Burns — the school’s Killer Bs — make up perhaps the best top of the rotation in the state and are the main reason the Mountain Lions are considered one of the favorites to win it all this year.4c50a14049937.image
Mountain Ridge has come close before — reaching the semifinals in 2002 — but observers are saying this is the Lions’ best shot at winning it all, especially because Budrow and Burns are both seniors and will be playing college ball — or maybe professionally — next season.
“I definitely think our staff is better this year overall,” said Budrow, who has been a force since his freshman year. “Plus, everybody we’ve been playing has been throwing their No. 1 or No. 2 (starters) at us, so we’ve seen the best of other teams.”
It’s certain that other teams see the best of Mountain Ridge every game. Burns transferred to the school from Moon Valley in Phoenix before the school year after his family moved right outside Ridge’s campus.
He replaced the graduated Nick Walters, who, with Budrow, made up one of the best 1-2 punches last year.
Budrow and Burns each reach the low 90s with their fastballs. Burns is more of a throw-it-by-you kind of pitcher, while Budrow uses more precision mixed in with his speed.
Either way, it’s been tough for the Mountain Lions to be beaten, something that has only happened twice all season.
One of those came last week when city-rival Deer Valley upset the Lions 6-0, providing what Budrow called “a good wake-up call.”
“Even the Yankees lose to the Expos (now Nationals),” Budrow said. “It was just one game.”
One game the Mountain Lions hope to win is the state championship. Winning state has been their clear goal, especially after the school’s success in volleyball and football early in the season.
“We always say that the fall sports set the tone for the year,” Kiepke said. “Our volleyball team won state. The football team went to the championship game. Now, we want to be there, too.”

Published at glendalestar.com • April 6, 2005

high schools

Prep region races begin this week

by Jason Stone

Spring break is over and now the real action gets going.
All local baseball and softball teams will be in the midst of region play this week as the 5A Desert West Region starts play, joining the 5A Northwest, 4A Desert Sky, 4A Skyline and 4A Wells Fargo, which have already started their region seasons.
Mountain Ridge baseball is hoping to claim the top spot in the Northwest Region after starting the season with 15 wins in its first 16 games.
Ironwood’s baseball team will have its hands full with Sunrise Mountain and Tolleson, teams that have gotten off to great starts.
In softball, Apollo has started off strong and will be a team to beat in the Desert Sky Region, while two-time defending champion Cactus is again the team to beat in the Wells Fargo Region.
The second Deer Valley/Sandra Day O’Connor Softball Festival is also scheduled for this weekend and features local teams Deer Valley, Ironwood, Cactus and Mountain Ridge.

Published at glendalestar.com • March 31, 2005

high schools

Glendale teams chase repeat feats

by Jason Stone

If the East Valley dominates local prep sports, softball is not included in the equation.
On successive nights last spring, Deer Valley became the ruler of the 5A Conference, while Cactus won its second straight 4A crown a night later.
With each team returning the heart of its roster again this year, could a pair of repeat titles be in their futures?
Cactus, which has won five state titles, and Deer Valley, which owns two, are the odds-on favorites to repeat in each conference.
Mountain Ridge, meanwhile, has one of the most stacked teams in 5A baseball, giving the West Valley hope going into state playoffs in May.
Fans will soon find out if local teams are for real as the spring sports season begins region play over the next two weeks.
4c50a153b3996.imageDeer Valley’s softball team has set itself up for another state title with the return of the talented trio of catcher Karie Wilson, first baseman Laine Roth and pitcher/third baseman Kristen Cruickshank.
Cactus, meanwhile, went undefeated last year behind the pitching of Katie Holverson and hitting of slugger Stacie Chambers. Both players are back, although the Cobras finally lost in their first tournament this season.
Plus, don’t count out local teams Mountain Ridge in 5A and Apollo in 4A — teams that usually have something to say about the state championship race.
In baseball, Mountain Ridge will be tough to beat with seven starters returning and the addition of transfer Corey Burns to the pitching staff. Burns and Brian Budrow make up arguably the best staff in the state, and the return of catcher Jeff Mutchler and infielder Dan Duffy should help the team improve on last year’s 28-6 record.
Deer Valley is hoping to put pressure on the Mountain Lions with 10 lettermen returning, including top pitcher Calvin Lewis and its top two hitters Santiago Maldonado and Nick Salahub.
Ironwood enters the season with new coach Dan DeBattista, who replaced Scott Lanning after last year’s 5A Desert West Region championship.
In 4A baseball, nine lettermen are back for Cactus, which went 21-8 last year and reached the 4A quarterfinals. Returning ERA leader James Bateman is the best of the returners.
Dan Streeter is continuing his rebuilding job at Apollo with only one starter back for his second season as coach.
In boys volleyball, three local 5A teams all return experienced teams. Deer Valley, Ironwood and Mountain Ridge — the only Glendale schools to play the sport — each return eight starters.
Deer Valley senior Steve Lacey, who is coming off the basketball season, is one player to watch.
In boys and girls tennis, Ironwood’s boys will attempt to defend its Desert West Region championship, but will have to overcome the loss of its top singles player and doubles team.
Apollo’s girls team has four letterwinners returning in hopes of moving to the top half of the 4A Desert Sky Region, while Deer Valley’s girls team has an international squad, led by No. 1 singles player Ajla Sijecic, who is from Bosnia.
In track and field, Glendale High’s Greg Lacey will try to defend his 4A state championshp in the long jump. Lacey also was a finalist in the triple jump.
Mountain Ridge has two state champions returning in middle-distance runner Reese Byerum and high jumper Leah Neff. Both Mountain Lions teams finished in the top six of state last year.
Apollo’s girls will be boosted by Brittany Wray, who took second in the state last year in the 300 hurdles and was on the 4×400 relay team that took third.

Published at glendalestar.com • March 10, 2005