Tempe All-City winter banquet recognizes top student athletes

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Winter sports honorees, 2017 (Wrangler News photo by Alex J. Walker)

Athletes from Tempe area high schools were honored at the annual Tempe All-City Winter Banquet, March 27, including student athletes from Tempe, McClintock, Marcos de Niza and Corona.

Tempe High had four athletes receive awards from boys soccer, boys basketball and girls basketball.

Hector Govea Mireles, only a sophomore, was honored for his performance as a forward on the soccer field where he was the leading scorer with 19 goals and 40 points while playing in 10 matches.

Jonathan Ibarra Jimenez received recognition for his seven goals, seven assists and 21 points playing his senior season as mid-fielder on the same soccer team.

Nathaniel Manley, the Buffaloes senior basketball player, was awarded for his play at the center position. Manley played in all 24 games averaging 10.8 points and seven rebounds a game.

Tempe’s junior guard on the girls basketball team, Cecilia Castro, was honored. Castro was the leading scorer on the Buffaloes team with 9.2 points a game.

McClintock had two brothers recognized for their prowess on the wrestling mats.

Marco Groves, in the 160-pound weight class, finished his season with 52-0 record and winning his third straight Division II state individual championship last month.

Marco’s brother, Robert “Gator” Groves, complied a 53-0 record in the 145-pound weight class. Gator also won his third straight Division II state championship. Marcos de Niza had two basketball players win awards at the Tempe All-City banquet.

Senior Mason Stark played in all 28 of the Padres basketball games where he led the team with over 23 points per game hitting 62 percent of his two-point attempts and 47 percent of his three-point attempts.

Stark also led the team in rebounds with 172 and blocks with 32. He had 60 assists and 48 steals during his senior season playing the forward position.

Junior Melahni Washington was honored for her play at the forward position on the Marcos de Niza girls basketball team.

Corona del Sol had five players from the Aztecs No. 15 nationally ranked and No. 2 Arizona ranked boys soccer team after recording a 16-2-2 season.

Senior Ryan Flood was recognized for his play at the forward position while fellow senior Austin Delaney was awarded for the mid-fielder position and senior Tanner Pile as defender. Juniors William Allison and Preston Grayson received awards for their play at the mid-fielder position.

Four players from Corona’s girls soccer team received awards at the Tempe All-City Banquet.

Olivia Nguyen, the leading goal scorer for the Aztecs with 26 goals plus 23 assists, was honored for her play at the forward position. Nguyen, currently a junior, has committed to play at Arizona State University when she graduates in 2018.

Skylar Byrnes, also playing the forward position, was the second leading scorer on the team with 21 goals playing in 18 matches with 13 assists.

Senior Nikki Hoey was honored as one of the team’s best defenders when she returned midway through the season after being out for injury.

Junior Abigail Robertson was awarded for her play as mid-fielder where she played in 22 out of 23 matches scoring 9 goals with 19 assists. Corona’s Division I state championship wrestling team had nine wrestlers honored at the Tempe All-City Banquet.

Sophomore Zackary Kvavle, with his 52-4 record and third place at the state championships, was honored in the 106-pound weight class.

Junior Camron Upshur was honored for winning an individual state championship in the 120pound weight class compiling 32-4 record.

Raymond Bernstein received an award for his fourth-place state finish in the 126-pound weight class finishing his senior season with a 33-5 record.

Bruce Nickel, with a 21-7 record his sophomore season, was recognized in the 132-pound weight class after winning third place at state.

Jacob Garcia, wrestling his junior year in the 138-pound category, won an individual state championship finishing the season with a 23-2 record.

Vincent Dolce was undefeated his senior season with a 24-0 record and an individual Division I state championship in the 152-pound weight class.

Brandon Konecny was also undefeated his senior season compiling a 26-0 record winning this third individual state championship in the 160-pound weight class.

Senior Nicholas Ruffalo wrestled in the 170pound weight class where he was 44-11 taking home a fourth-place medal from the state championship.

Jacob Featherman wrestled in the 220-pound weight class at the state championship tournament ending his senior season with a 30-15 record.

Leilani Peat received an award for her play on the girls basketball court. Peat, the leading scorer her senior season averaging 11.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists as game, was a contributing member of Corona’s girls basketball team all four years.

Alex Barcello and Saben Lee were chosen to received Tempe All-City awards this season for their play on Corona’s basketball court. Barcello was chosen for the guard position and Lee for forward.

Corona Boys Basketball

The Aztecs performed like you would expect a No. 1 seed playing their way through the 6A state championship defeating their first three opponents, Mountain Ridge, 59-43, Westview, 74-59 and Cesar Chavez, 85-66, to make it into the finals for the fifth time in six years.

With a chance to win their fifth state championship since 2011 at the 6A finals on Feb. 28, the Aztecs could not get by the Arizona Republic No. 1 ranked Basha Bears.

Corona managed to stay relatively close until towards the end of second quarter when they fell behind Basha 39-30 to end the half.

The Aztecs were never able to generate a comeback and ended up losing 75-65 to take homethe second place or runner-up trophy.

“We had a great season,” said head coach Neil MacDonald. “We went 26-4, won a regional title and finished the season as the State Runner-up. Our record should speak for itself.”

“We determined our own success with attitude and effort,” said MacDonald. “We are looking forward to continuing our same tradition next season.”

After the state championship game, the Aztec traveled to Hawaii to play in the Iolani Classis winning three out their four games.

Hawaii was the last time the eight seniors on the team would play for the Aztecs. Each of these eight players were honored during senior night: Josh Onwordi, Seth McCollum, Jordan Guy, Eric Ozowa, Ty Stolworthy, Shelan Yarde, Saben Lee and Alex Barcello. “Josh Onwordi brought energy, enthusiasm and a great attitude to our team,” said MacDonald. “Josh was asked to guard bigger guys all year and did a great job for us.”

“Seth McCollum was a steady, positive influence on the court and in the locker room,” said MacDonald. “He brought a toughness and a great work ethic. His injury was very unfortunate.”

“Jordan Guy was a versatile guard who contributed to our success in many ways,” said MacDonald. “He had some great moments and it was too bad that his injury came at such an unfortunate time.”

“Eric Ozowa was a consistent and steady player who we could count on to always be ready to play,” said MacDonald. “He had a knack for being in the right place on the court. He guarded bigger guys each night and did it well.”

“Ty Stolworthy is all heart and hard work,” said MacDonald. “He battled injuries his whole career but never wavered always putting out consistent effort and a positive attitude.”

“Shelan Yarde worked as hard as anyone to earn minutes,” said MacDonald. “He never feared anyone and was willing to battle inside all game long.”

“Saben Lee led us or was second in every statistical category,” said MacDonald. “He was counted on to make big plays in clutch situations and did not disappoint.”

“Alex Barcello was a huge contributor to our success all four years,” said MacDonald. “He had a great attitude and always put forth the maximum effort making many big plays during his time at Corona.” “Alex finished his career at Corona with four all-time career school records including total points, field goal attempts, field goals made and free throw percentage.”

The Aztecs will miss the experience of these eight seniors but should return seven varsity players next season.

Corona Track and Field

Corona’s track and field team picked up where it left off last spring with a combined total of over 150 athletes coming out for the boys and girls teams again this season.

“Our boys team is developing very well as the season progresses,” said head coach Tim Kelly. “We are getting better each meet and have a number of athletes who should make a big splash at the state meet in May.”

Some of those athletes will most likely be the 13 members of the boys team who are ranked in the Division I Top 10 according to Althetic.net, a track and field website.

Senior Josh Onwordi has dominated the high jump event this season and is ranked No. 1 after a 6’6” jump at the Husky Invite, Mar. 10.

Tyler Black is tied for No. 8 with his 14-foot pole vault jump, Mar. 17, at the Brophy Fr. Harry Dutch Olivier Invitational.

Senior Jalen Bryant ranked No. 4 in the 200 meters with a time of 22.20 recorded at Husky Invite, Mar. 10 and No 5 in the 400 meters with a time of 50.00 attained Mar. 17 at the Brophy Fr. Harry Dutch Olivier Invitational.

Benjamin Miller, only a sophomore, is ranked No. 6 in the 400 meters with a time of 50.27 recorded as well at the Brophy Fr. Harry Dutch Olivier Invitational.

Graham Eversden is climbing up the leaderboard during his junior year with a current No. 4 ranking in the 800 meters with a time of 1:57.04 at the NIKE Chandler Rotary Elite Mar. 25.

Liam Kovatch is No. 7 in the 3200 meters with 9:38.81 time at the Nike Chandler Rotary Elite.

Fellow senior Carlos Parra-Cihak ran the hurdles in 40.01 at the Nike Chandler Rotary to earn a No. 8 ranking.

In the relay events, Corona’s boys 4×800 relay team of Kovatch, Eversden, Daniel Bish and Josh Whitney have the fastest Division I time of 8:11.20 to earn the No. 1 ranking.

The Aztec 4×400 relay team of Sascha Delzepich, Miller, Bryant and Bish ranked No. 2 and the 4×100 team of Jack Fisher, Adam Knuff, Jacob Dorr and Bryant ranked No. 10.

“Our boys relay teams are really getting strong giving us a great opportunity to place in top five in state,” said Kelly.

“In addition, our boys distance and mid-distance runners like Lincoln Johnson, Slade Sumners, Matt Cerwinske, Liam Kovatch, Graham Eversden and Josh Whitney are working hard and improving weekly,” said Kelly. “We are also getting some improved times out of our sprinters like Adam Knuff, Jalen Bryant, Ben Miller and hurdlers Carlos Parra-Cihak, Sean Neely and Jack Fisher.

The girls team is gaining experience every meet, as well, and should have some participants at state.

“Our girls team is very young this season,” said Kelly, “but we have some good senior leadership from Jackie Martin and Kelsy Lum who are helping our freshman and sophomore girls progress each day,” The girls team has seven girls listed in the Division I top ten that should qualify for the state tournament in May.

“Our older girls have made a strong showing in their events so far this season and have led the girls team to top eight finishes in every meet this year,” said Kelly.

Topping the girls team is Josephina Wright who vaulted 12 feet on Mar. 10 at the Husky Invite to be tied at No. 1 in the Division I pole vault field event.

Senior Renee Payne is ranked No. 3 after her 2:14.37 run in 800 meters at the Aztec Invite, Mar. 3.

Fellow senior Jackie Martin is on the top 10 list twice. First at No. 7 in the 200 meters with a time of 25.42 that she ran at the Brophy Fr. Harry Dutch Olivier Invitational, Mar. 17. Secondly, Martin has a No. 7 ranking in the 400 meters event she ran at the NIKE Chandler Rotary Elite in 2:14.37 on Mar. 25.

The 4×800 relay team of Cybelle Cozart, Mackenzie Burgess, Riley Wright, and Mia Da Rosa are ranked No. 5 after their time of 10:09.28 at the Red Mountain Rampage, Mar. 24.

“It’s just a matter of time before our younger girls catch up to the competition,” said Kelly. “We have some sophomores and freshman who have been thrust into having to compete at the varsity level. They have taken on the challenge, work hard and have a great positive attitude. The future is bright for these younger girls.”

In addition to the girls previously mentioned, Meg Horvath, Taylor Daugherty, Riley Carlisle, Haley and Zoe Johnson, Lauriana Batey and Taylor Hyter are working hard at practice and steadily improving according to Kelly.

Corona will be competing Mar. 31 at the 12th Annual Basha Co-Ed Relays and then April 1 at the Becky Matthews Freshman and Non-Varsity/Open Invite.

Up next the Aztecs will be at the Arcadia Invitational April 7-8 before competing against Basha and Queen Creek on April 11.

Marcos de Niza Track and Field

Senior Marcus Naisant is ranked No. 4 Division II in the 110 meter hurdles with a time of 15.08 at the NIKE Chandler Rotary Track and No. 10 in in the 100 meters for his 11.14 run Mar. 3 at the Saunders Montague Desert Classic.

In the field events, Naisant is ranked No .2 in the long jump event with a leap of 22-feet-9.5 inch on Mar. 17 at the Brophy Fr. Harry Dutch Olivier Invitational and is ranked No. 6 with a high jump of 6-foot-4 inches at the same event.

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