Aztecs pay tribute to top coaches, athletes

Retired Corona wrestling coach Dave Vibber, right, was inducted into the Aztec Hall of Fame by current athletic director Dan Nero. (Photo by Kris Cartwright for Wrangler News)
Retired Corona wrestling coach Dave Vibber, right, was inducted into the Aztec Hall of Fame by current athletic director Dan Nero. (Photo by Kris Cartwright for Wrangler News)

Feb. 6 is the Saturday where the local high school wrestlers compete in sectional tournaments to determine who qualifies to compete in the individual state championship tournaments and who watches from the sidelines.

Both Marcos de Niza and McClintock wrestlers compete in Division II Section III. These wrestlers will be competing in the Section III tournament on Feb. 6 at Campo Verde High School, 3870 S. Quartz in Gilbert.

Individual wrestlers from both teams will be competing against wrestlers from 11 other Section III high schools in 14 different weight categories to see who gets to compete in the Division II state tournament on Feb. 11-12 at the Prescott Valley Event Center.

Corona de Sol wrestlers will be competing on Feb. 6 in the Division I Section II tournament at Valley Vista High School at 15550 W Parkview Place in Surprise.

The Aztecs will be competing against eight other high schools including Cibola, Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe to determine which of their wrestlers will qualify to compete at the state tournament also held at the Prescott Valley Event Center Feb. 11-12.

“Our team is prepared for sectionals or the state qualification tournament this weekend,” said coach Jim Martinez. “There is the expectation of taking care of business so that the wrestlers can get back to work Monday to be ready for the state tournament the following weekend.”

Some of Corona’s wrestlers have participated in previous state tournament and hope to qualify again this year.

“We anticipate a great deal of success among our wrestlers at the sectionals,” said Martinez. “Ryan and Marc Farina, Hunter Carmona, Diego Fill and Dylan Conner should be our highest seeds.”

The Aztecs honored three seniors and recognized former long-time coach Dave Vibber at the last home match, Jan. 27, against Willow Canyon. Corona won 60-18.

The seniors honored are a set of triplets, Anthony, Marc and Ryan, from the same Farina family. The Farina’s have had an impact and been a positive influence on the Aztec wrestling program the past six seasons. Older brother Glenn is now competing at Cal Poly.

“Anthony has been a true team member all four years,” said Martinez. “I don’t know of anyone more liked and personable than Anthony.”

“Marc has been one of the most driven wrestlers in our program,” said Martinez. “He will outwork anyone to achieve his goal of becoming a state champion.”

“Ryan, who placed at state the past two years, has planned and prepared for his final two weeks of high school competition,” said Martinez. “Give him a challenge and he will find a solution for overcoming it.”

Vibber was inducted into the Corona del Sol Hall of Fame earlier at a boys basketball game but was recognized at the last regular wrestling match of the season as well.

“It was an honor to have Coach Vibber’s induction take place at our last home match,” said Martinez. “It was where his induction belonged. Our program owes so much to him for all he did to start us on the road to success!”


Corona Girls Soccer

Corona’s young but determined girls soccer team is hoping to replicate the 2009-10 Aztec team who entered the state tournament as the No. 15 seed but refused to lose until they climbed from the bottom up the playoff ranks to fulfill the team’s goal of playing in the championship finals.

“This year’s team reminds me a lot of the 2010 team that made a long playoff run in the state tournament,” said long-time head coach Matt Smith.

The Aztecs, seeded No. 9 this season with a 9-8-1 record, were set to face off against No. 8 Campo Verde on Feb. 2 at Campo Verde.

If they keep their hopes of playing once again in the finals alive by defeating the Coyotes in the first round, the Aztecs will most likely play Xavier, the No. 1 seed in the tournament., in the second round on Feb. 6 at Xavier.

If that scenario plays out, it would be a rematch of the 2010 state championship final match.

Senior leadership has helped Corona’s younger players improve over the season and become more competitive playing against some of the toughest teams in the state.

“We have done a great job of sticking together and supporting each other as we have played a very tough schedule,” said Smith. “We are starting to figure out how to win!”

“We will have played 13 of the 16 teams in the state playoffs so by now we should have a great idea of what we need to do in the state playoffs,” said Smith.

The defense has played well all season according to Smith

“Seniors Izzie Cartegena and Lexi Reynosa have been strong on the back line,” said Smith. “With their senior leadership, the entire back line has been strong all year.”

Several young players have had an impact on the team’s offensive performance.

“Sophomore Olivia Nguyen is tearing it up, with great support of fellow sophomores Abby Robertson and Skylar Byrnes,” said Smith. “Then Samantha Scheurer has stepped in as a freshman and been exceptional, playing a variety of positions, but often in the center back.”

Nguyen leads the team in goals with 11 followed by Byrnes with 7, Robertson and junior Sierna Firestone with 4 each, and junior Nikki Hoey and freshman Riye Torrance with 3 goals each.

Byrnes and Nguyen are the assist leaders on the team with nine and eight assists respectively, but juniors Laney Gordon and Elizabeth Velasquez are next in line with four assists.

Junior starting goalkeeper Jordon Freese and freshman Maya Benedict have only allowed 13 goals to be scored against the Aztecs while saving 151 attempts over the regular season.

Corona’s five seniors, Bailee McCook, Cartagena, Reynosa, Macala Montemarano and Ama Garcia were honored at the last home game of the season

Other players contributing on and off the field to Corona’s success are freshman Karyme Perea, sophomores Destini Romero and Mia da Rosa and juniors Brooklyn Marois, Grace Rayburn, Emily Ramsland, Lauren Lambert and Alyssa Baca.


Athlete Letter of Intent Signing

Right now for Wed Feb 3 @ 11 am outside CDS front office our lineup looks like:

Corona had three athletes sign letters of intent Feb. 3 outside the front office.

Isabelle Cartagena signed to play soccer at San Diego State next fall while John Rea will be playing soccer as well at the University of Notre Dame.

Cartegena is one of Corona’s best defenders on the girls team while Rea is leading the boys team in both goals, with 26 goals on the stat sheet, and assists with 15.

Austin Dixon, who played all 11 games for Corona’s football team this season, signed to play football on Boise State University’s blue field this fall. The 6-foot-7 265-pound tackle also played middle blocker on Corona’s boys volleyball team.

Logan Bashford signed to play football at Phoenix College and Dakota Wesleyan at South Dakota.


Corona Basketball 

The Aztecs, despite a 9-5 record as of Monday, Feb. 1, are currently ranked No. 1 among Division I boys basketball teams with a 15.9679 rating and could potentially get the No. 1 seed with home court advantage in the state tournament.

Ranked at No. 2 was Basha with a 13.8472 rating, then Mesa with 13.4880, Mountain Ridge with 13.1013 and Gilbert with 12.8825.

The Aztecs defeated Basha, Jan 20, 62-59, but who knows how that win will figure into the final tally.

Corona, at press time, had four remaining games: Feb. 2 at home against Mountain Pointe, Feb. 4 at Chandler, Feb. 8 at Dobson and Feb. 10 at home against Gilbert.

The only one who appears to be a threat as far as ranking points is Gilbert. Mountain Pointe is currently No. 15 with a 7.8684 ranking while Chandler is No. 9 with 10.1402 and Dobson No.10 with 9.9774.

If the Aztecs win all four of their last regular season games, it appears they will be the No. 1 seed. But as anyone who has tried predicting the final AIA power point rankings, anything can happen.

The Aztecs seems to be peaking at the right time, though, winning six of their last eight games and plan on fiercely defending their state championship trophy when the state tournament starts Feb. 18.

“We have worked hard to put ourselves in a good position going into the last part of the season, but we realize the importance of staying focused on each individual opponent, as there are no nights off in Division 1 this season,” said head coach Neil MacDonald. “We are happy with our progress, and feel confident that we will be playing our best basketball when we need to be this month.”


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