2008-09: A memorable year in review


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Corona del Sol athletes had a stellar 2008-09 season in their last year in the Central region before transitioning to compete in the East Valley region next fall.

“We had four state champions, two state finalists and nine Central Region champions,” said CdS athletic director Dan Nero.

“We were also the first public school in Arizona history to place both the boys and girls tennis teams in the state finals.”


State 5A-I State Championship Badminton – The Lady Aztecs beat defending state champions Mountain Pointe Oct. 22 to win Corona’s first Badminton state championship. The closest Corona had ever gotten was the year before when they were the 2007 state champion finalists losing to Mountain Pointe in the finals. Corona ended the season 17-1-only losing to Mountain Pointe earlier in the season.

The championship match went down to the wire with Corona’s Alexa Hay and Brittany Messer defeating Mountain Pointe’s doubles team 15-8, 5-15 and 15-10 when Hay executed a perfect drop shot for the winning point for a 5-4 win.

Corona had started off winning the first three singles matches to take a 3-0 lead when Amy Davis, Messer and Julie Simpson defeated Pride’s top three players. Resma Amin gave Corona at 4-2 lead when she was victorious at the No. 6 spot before the teams headed into doubles play. Hay and Messer got the point Corona needed to defeat Mountain Pointe 5-4 in the last match.

Davis was a state finalists in the individual championship match held Oct. 25. Davis also received a Tempe All-City Award for badminton at the Tempe All-City Association Awards banquet held Jan. 12 where she gave the invocation. Coach Katie Inskeep was honored by the All-City Association for leading the Lady Aztecs to the state championship.

Katherine Cai, a member of the state championship badminton team, also had an astounding academic career at Corona. She was recently chosen as a recipient of one of Arizona’s 20 Flinn Scholarships, which include funding for four years of study, academic-focused travel abroad, mentorship by top faculty and other benefits worth more than $50,000 on top of her tuition.


State 5A-I State Championship Wrestling – The Corona del Sol Wrestling took home their first state championship Feb. 28 and their second consecutive overall individual championship. The Aztecs defeated three-year defending state champions Mesa 25-24 when three-time state individual champion Luke Macchiaroli convinced 30-year head coach Dave Vibber that he should switch places with Mike Howard in the final two matches of the tournament.

Corona won six of the last seven matches including Howard’s and Macchiaroli’s matches to defeat Mesa and take home the 5A-I state team wrestling championship.

Corona won the overall individual 5A-I state tournament with four champions from the individual tournament: Ryan Miller at 145 lbs, Derek Felton 60 lbs, Luke Macchiaroli 215 lbs and Mike Howard (L) HWT. The other individual state finishers included Justin Cullins who placed fifth in the 112-pound weight class, Ryan Cox third at 119 pounds, Kasey Turner placed fourth at 130, Blake Ortiz was third at 152, and Sam Fulton was sixth at 171.

Eight Corona wrestlers were recognized and received Tempe All-City Winter Awards:  Ryan Cox, 119 pounds; Kevin Etchells, 125 pounds; Kasey Turner, 130 pounds; Ryan Miller 145 pounds; Blake Ortiz, 145 pounds; Derek Felton, 145 pounds; Luke Macchiaroli, 171 pounds; and Mike Howard, 215 pounds.

Felton and Macchiaroli were named Co-MVPs, David Hoover received the Joe Sellah Award and Ortiz was voted by his teammates as most improved.


State 5A-I State Championship Baseball – The Aztec baseball team won Corona’s second state championship by defeating defending state champion Hamilton 11-1 on May 16. The game was called in the sixth inning because of the Arizona high school baseball ten-run rule. The only other time CdS has won the championship was in 1993.

Shortstop Kirby Pellant, second base Ryan Moore and utility player Evan Ritchey were named to the Central region first team. Greg Ryan was named to the second team and Erik Wanta received Honorable Mention.

The Aztecs captured their first Central region championship title in years after defeating Desert Vista on April 28. CdS lost to Desert Vista in two early April games before getting on a roll to defeat the Thunder three straight games-twice in the state tournament.

Four Aztec players received the Tempe All-City award at the spring sports banquet: Felton, second base; Pellant, short stop; Moore, outfield; and Tyler Giannonatti, utility.

Felton, infield, and Moore, outfield, were also named to the Class 5A baseball All-State first team while Giannonatti, utility, and Pellant, infield, were awarded honorable mention.

Coach Dave Webb was named the Arizona Republic‘s All-Southeast Valley Coach of the Year. Felton and Moore were also named to the All-Southeast Valley baseball team.

Pellant was selected June 11 in the 38th round of the MLB amateur draft by the Las Angeles Dodgers. He has signed a letter-of-intent to play at Marshall University in the fall.


5A State Finalists Girls Tennis – The Lady Aztec girls tennis team finished the season 17-2 garnering several awards on their way to a runner-up finish to Salpointe in the state 5A-1 team championships. Junior Kelly Lawson finished the season undefeated in both singles and doubles play and was named Central Region Player of the Year. Coach Carol Sandvig was named Central Region Coach of the Year.

Other members of the team that contributed to the Central Region Championship trophy, first place in the  All City Tournament and second place in the Metrocenter’s Kiwanis Invitational included Lauren Hacker, Danielle Hoyme, Kristen Ohe, Michelle Wellnitz and Libby Vogt.

Corona players took home all three girls tennis awards presented at the Tempe All-City Awards banquet held May 11: Kelsey Lawson received both the singles and doubles award while Danielle Hoyme received the other doubles award.

Junior Kelsey Lawson was named high school girls tennis player of the year after leading the Lady Aztecs to a 5A-I state team runner-up finish and her first state single championship.  She is also ranked No. 1 in Southwest Section of the United State Tennis Association Girls 18.


5A State Finalists Boys Tennis – Corona’s boys tennis team made in into their first state championship team finals coming away with a runner-up banner for the Aztec gym after losing a hard-fought contest with ultimate team state champion Brophy. Garret Dunn, Corona’s No. 1 player, was a state finalist in the individual state tournament

In addition to being a state finalist, the Aztecs (18-1) won the Metrocenter Kiwanis Invitational and the All-City meet. They were crowned the Central Region Champions and coach Rick Wanta was named Central Region Coach of the Year.

The 2009 Central All-Region Tennis Team included Dunn, Alex Lawson, and Kyle Ogren as part of the First Team. Daniel Larsson was named to the Second Team and Honorable Mention went to Ben Duong and David Choi. Dunn and Ogren also received the tennis Tempe All-City Awards. Dunn for both singles and doubles while Ogren was given the doubles award.

Dunn, who received an academic and athletic scholarship to Iowa, was a National Merit Finalist and named one of Tempe’s Top Teens.


Central Region Champions Girls Golf – The Corona del Sol girls golf team accomplished all of the team’s goals for 2008 by winning the Central region tournament Oct. 20-21 at the Duke golf course and placing third in the state 5A-I state tournament. The Central region title was the first in over ten years.  Dana Finkelstein came in second and Kelsey Hoyt was fifth.

A third place finish in the state tournament was the highest ranking that a CdS girls golf team had ever finished. Leading the Aztecs in the state tournament was Finkelstein who finished eighth, Hoyt, Lindsey Kohl, Hailee Axelsen, and Alexandra Haun. Coach Pat Reed received the 5A-I Coach of the Year award.


Central Region Champions Girls Cross-Country – Corona’s girls cross-country team won the Central region meet Oct. 29. Coach Jon Drury used his “Power of the Pack” mentality and a deep team that included competitive runners like Danica Ganje, Sydney Buck, Christina Freeman, Dani LeMieux, Ellen Dunn,  Kristen Strobel, Katie Huch, Hannah Lewis, Holly Swenson and team co-captain Frankie Dieceaser, to finish strong in several meets.

The Lady Aztecs took first place in the Tempe City Meet, second in the Queen Creek Twilight Invitational and third in the George Young Invitational. Ganje received the Girls Cross Country Tempe All-City Award at the fall banquet.


Girls Volleyball 08-09 Region Champions – The Lady Aztecs were crowned the Central region champions and entered the state 5A-I tournament seeded No. 1.They finished the season 42-9 overall and 11-0 at home after losing to Xavier Prep in the quarterfinals of the 5A-I state tournament.

Central Region First Team included Cassie Ronda, Bethany Jorgensen, Taylor Kesteloot and Lexie Schroeder. Ben Maxfield was named Central Region Coach of the Year. Emily Kaup was named to the Second Team and Honorable Mention went to Haley Kesteloot, Maddy Harmon, Meghan McCarthy and Katherine Gatz.

Seniors Kesteloot and Schroeder and junior outside hitters Jorgensen and Ronda received Tempe All-City Awards at the Tempe All-City Association fall sports banquet. Ronda was named to the Arizona Republic All 5A first team, Jorgensen All 5A second team and Taylor Kesteloot, Kaup and Schroeder honorable mention. Kesteloot was also named to Tempe’s Top Teens.

Coach Ben Maxfield was voted Central Region Coach of the Year and the Arizona Republic Southeast Valley Coach of the Year.

Corona volleyball and soccer standout Schroeder recently accepted a Division I athletic scholarship to Northern Arizona University to play volleyball.

“I ended up picking volleyball because I’ve played soccer ever since I was five years old and I was just a little worn out from it,” said Schroeder. “I’ve only played volleyball since the seventh grade and it’s still new and really exciting for me. I love soccer and will really miss it but volleyball is indoors and I just like the atmosphere better.”


Central Region Champions Boys Soccer – The Aztec boys soccer team (19-3) ended the regular season undefeated in the 12 contests which counted toward power points and was the No. 1 seed going into the state 5A tournament before falling to No. 16 Chandler. Regardless, they had an excellent season winning the Central Region title and garnering several individual player awards.

Both the Central Region Offensive Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards went to Corona players. Forward Trever Allen was offensive and goalie Matt Bersono defensive player. Selected to the Central Region First Team, along with Allen and Bersono, were defender Josh Von Allwarden, midfielder Derek Rusher, midfielder Brian Hoyt, and senior forward Matt Widjaja.

Central Region Second Team selections from Corona were defender Kevin Biniazan and forward Dan VanVleet. Honorable Mention Team selections were defender Chris Murray and midfielder Nick Cavaretta.

Allen, Bersano, Widjaja, Rusher, Von Allworden and Hoyt received the Tempe All-City Awards at the winter banquet. Allen was also named to the All-State first Team. Bersono was named Team MVP, Rusher was named Most Improved Player and Joey Cavaretta was awarded the Joe Selleh Award. Senior Matt Widjaja recently received a $500 from the Insight Bowl for his academic and athletic leadership at Corona.



Central Region Champions Girls Soccer – The Corona del Sol girls soccer team made it to the quarterfinals of the 5A-I state tournament before losing to No. 8 seed Salpointe Catholic 2-1. The Lady Aztecs compiled a 13-6-4 record during the 2008-09 season winning the Central Region Championship.

First Team Central Region selections included seniors Ashley Kniffen, Lexie Schroeder, Stephanie Holladay, sophomore Sammie Weber and junior keeper Hailey Hayes. Second Team selections were seniors Whitney Miller and Angela Williamson and junior Jessica Johnson. Honorable Mention went to senior Lauren McGill and junior Tori Papp.

Tempe All-City Awards were given to Kniffen, Schroeder and Weber. Senior Kniffen also received $500 from the Insight Bowl for her academic and athletic leadership at Corona.


Corona Football – The Aztecs finished the season with a 9-3 record after losing to No. 1 seeded Mesa Mountain View in the second round of the state playoffs. Running back Michael Lange was named Central Region Offensive Player of the Year and also received the Tempe All-City award for offense along with wide receiver Kirby Pellant, Michael Lange and offensive line Tyler Giannonatti.

Tempe All-City awards for defense went to defensive lineman Vince Bonanno and linebacker Evan Altheide.

Two senior football players, Reilly Sehl and Giannonatti, were awarded $300 Code of Honor Incentive Program (CHIPS) scholarships for their honorable and respectable behavior towards classmates, teachers and the CdS community.


Corona Softball – The Corona del Sol softball team finished the season 12-10 and ranked 11th in 5A-I power point rankings and the No. 11 seed in the state tournament. The Lady Aztecs lost to Salpointe in double elimination in the third round of the tournament.

After the season, several of Corona’s softball players accumulated awards. Jamie Pollak, pitcher, was named to the Central Region First Team and received the Tempe All-City Award at the Tempe All-City Association spring sports banquet held May 11. Laura Bohning, infield, Mary Spiel, outfield and Page Vallejos, utility, were also named to the Central Region First Team. Named to the second team were infield Vanessa Alvarez, outfield, Madison Edwards, and utility, Nikki Giannonatti. Honorable mention was Abby Spiel and Liz Deem.

Spring Tempe All-City Awards for softball went to Bohning and Alvarez for infield, Vallejos for catcher, Pollak for pitcher and Mary Spiel of outfield. Alvarez recently accepted a Division I athletic scholarship to Boise State University.

Junior Mary Spiel, outfield, was named to Class 5A softball All-State second team while teammates Alvarez and Bohning received honorable mention.

Ashley Hansen, a 2008 Corona graduate and a member of Stanford’s collegiate softball team, was recently selected to the 2009 National USA Softball team. She was also named 2009 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and a top 25 finalist for the 2009 USA Softball’s Collegiate Player of the Year Award.


CdS Boys Basketball – The Aztec boys basketball team had a 14-11 record during the 2008-09 season winning the McClintock Holiday Shootout Tournament in early December. They entered the state 5A-I tournament for the sixth consecutive year under coach Sam Duane as the No. 16 seed but lost to the No. 1 seed Highland in the first round.

The Aztecs played competitive ball all season forcing seven teams into overtime games. In two of those games, they forced double overtimes eventually winning five out of the seven games.

Leland Devlin and Andrew Fox were named to the Central region first team, David Whitmore Central region second team, Tory Gomez, Marcel Towns, Kyle Noon and Calaen Robinson were Central Region honorable mention.

Senior guards Devlin and Fox were presented with Tempe All-City Winter Awards and name as Honorable Mention in the All-Tribune boys basketball team. Fox will be playing at Oberlin College in Ohio.


CdS Girls Basketball –The Lady Aztecs had a new coach in 2008-09, Andy Strom, and finished the season 11-15 and did not make it into the state 5A-I tournament. The team played hard in practice and never gave up taking second place in the Blue division of the Nike tournament.

The team relied on the leadership and scoring ability of seniors Kim Pestalozzi and Nicole Coggins and the rebounding skills of twins Andrea and Alissa Beaird. Coggins was given the Tempe All-City Award for basketball and gave the invocation at the Tempe All-City Association banquet held April 13.


Corona Swimming and Diving Teams – The Corona Swim and Dive Teams finished the season coming in second for both the boys and the girls teams in the City Meet and fourth in the Mesa Relays. The teams qualified swimmers in 18 events in 5A-I state meet with 15 top 10 finishes. Brian Liu touched the wall first to become 100-yard backstroke state 5A-I champion and came in fourth in the 100-yard butterfly.

Both 200-yard Medley relay teams finished strong in the state meet with the girls team of Taylor Thorn, Emily Lewandowski, Julie Vandeburg and Danielle Palbykin coming in second and the boys team of Liu, Ryan Telep, Gavin Haws and Daniel Rasmussen coming in fifth.

Liu was given the Tempe All-City Award for both the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke events while Telep received the award for both the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke events.

The Corona girls dive team did well in the Central region meet taking first, second and third place. Megan Mayal was first, Janelle Sweeney second and Heidi Liou third. Sweeney received the Tempe All-City Award for diving.


Corona Track and Field – Corona’s girls and boys track and field team had 257 athletes come out this season-the largest number in over 30 years. The athletes worked hard all season and continued to improve. The boys team took fourth place at the Aztec Invitational, first in the Basha Relays, third in the Tempe Relays, second in the Frosh/JV City Meet, second in the Varsity City Meet and second in the Central Region Meet.

The girls team took fifth in the Aztec invitational, first in the Basha Relays, third in the Tempe Relays, second at the Freshman Showcase, third at the Frosh/JV City Meet, second at the Varsity City Meet and second at the Central Region Meet.

The Aztecs qualified in 31 events in the State 5A-I track meet. The girls team finished eighth and the boys team tenth out of 22 team. Highlights of the state tournament field events included a championship medal for Briana Viafale in the discus, a fifth place finish for Mike Stahl in the shot put, a sixth place for Austin Malm, and tie for tenth place for Nick Seifker and George Bafaloukus in the high jump, a seventh place finish for Mike Swindle in the pole vault, 12th place finish in the long jump for Leanne Kline, an 11th and 12th place finish in the boys long jump for Malm and Brendon Tunstall, an 11th and 13th place for Malm and Todd Lewis.

The running events included at sixth place finish for Danica Ganje in the 3200 meter run and seventh place in the 1600 meter run. Corona teammates Morgan Dorweiler, Sydney Buck, Kristen Strobel and Ganje finished fifth in the 4 X 800 Relay. The boys 4 X 800 relay team of Matt Whitlatch, Garrett Baker-Slama, Wade Hooke and Michael Seal finished seventh.

The girls 4 X 100 relay team of Taylor Johnson, Megan Benson, Kristen Mahler and Irene Ashu crossed the finish line in fifth place. Dorweiler came in ninth in the 800 meter run.

Kyle Benson was sixth in the 110 meter hurdles, Whitlatch was third and Baker-Slama ninth in the 1600 meter run and Whitlatch seventh in the 3200 meter run.

In the spring Tempe All-City Association Awards banquet Malm was honored in the high jump and long jump, Whitlatch in the 1600 meter run, Kyle Benson for the 110 meter high hurdles, Viafale in the girls discus and Ganje in the girls 1600 meter run.      


Boys Volleyball – The Corona del Sol boys volleyball team finished the spring volleyball season with a 9-8 record and failed to qualify to play in the state tournament for the first time. Steven Law was recognized in the Central Region Second Team while Riley Heywood, Austin Peck, Tyler Liss and Alex Deem were given honorable mention. Law also received the Tempe All-City Award at the Tempe All-City Association spring sports banquet May 11 and was named honorable mention in the All-Arizona boys volleyball team.


Girl’s Lacrosse Coach Needed — Corona’s Lady Aztec Lacrosse Club is searching for a head coach for its 2009-10 girls high school club team. Individuals should apply who have prior playing or coaching experience at the high school or collegiate level. This position requires working closely with the other club coaches in developing practice plans but would not involve administrative or organizational responsibilities. The club is looking for someone who would also be as a positive role model for the players on the team. This is a paid-position with the stipend determined by experience. Please contact Cliff Prausa at 602-738-9377 or email tempelacrosse@aol.com to discuss this position or if you would like more information.



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