The year in sports: 2011 will be hard pressed to be better than 2010 - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

The year in sports: 2011 will be hard pressed to be better than 2010

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Posted: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 8:00 am | Updated: 4:35 pm, Thu Nov 17, 2011.

Amazingly another year has past, but not without several area athletes and teams doing some fairly amazing things themselves in 2010.

It could have been on the football field, long-distance runs along the nation's highways or on the baseball diamond and so many other arenas; there was no prejudice.

The people of Ahwatukee Foothills put on an athletic display that will rank as one of the best.

Not all can be captured here but here are some of the better achievements in a review of 2010.

AF resident runs across the country

Helene Neville took on the transcontinental run in order to spread the word about the fact that there is life after a cancer diagnosis and also to bring attention to her book, Nurses in Shape, which implores the importance of nurses being the first in line in America's battle against obesity.

"I wanted to inspire people - even if it is just one person - to go after any dream, idea or goal," she said. "The thought that something isn't reachable should never reach your mind. Go out and do it. The end will come with whatever result, but the hardest part is getting started."

Neville completed the feat of running across the country - essentially a marathon (26 miles) a day for 93 days - that went from Ocean Beach, Calif., on May 1 to Jacksonville, Fla., on Aug. 1.

Historic football season ends in semifinals

For the first time in the 14 years both Mountain Pointe and Desert Vista have played varsity football, they advanced to the state semifinals.

The fifth-seeded Pride lost 31-10 to eventual champion and No. 1 seed Chandler Hamilton and the third-seeded Thunder fell to 10th-seeded Mesa Desert Ridge 41-17.

Both teams finished 10-3.

Mountain Pointe did so despite several injuries and nearly a whole new cast from the 2009 team's state final appearance.

Desert Vista was one of the state's biggest and best stories, going from a splintered 2-8 squad to a cohesive team first unit.

AIA tweaks individual sports

The Arizona Interscholastic Association overhauled its classification system. Dropping "classes" for "divisions" and added sectionals.

It created more competitive state tournaments for cross country, badminton, golf and swimming in the falls sports (as well as the winter and spring sports in 2011) as the number of state events dwindled per sports, pitting tough.

Cross country went from six individual meets per gender down to four, boys golf from four to three and the biggest change came at swimming as it went from five state meets down to two.

It was well received for the most part and created a more competitive balance.

Team sports will receive the same face lift for the 2011-12 school year.

Mountain Pointe wins Ahwatukee Bowl

The Pride made it two years in a row, beating Desert Vista 20-17 to make the all-time series a little closer as the Thunder lead 9-5.

Isaac Kartz ran for 218 yards for the Pride, but couldn't convert on a 4th down and 1 late in the game. It gave Desert Vista a chance to tie or win in the final minutes, but Martin Moriel intercepted Thunder quarterback Hunter Rodriguez.

DV stays strong in XC

The Desert Vista girls team finished second, behind Brittany Tretbar's third-place finish, and the boys team was third, as Ryan Maack finished seventh, in Class 5A Division I action.

Mathers becomes DV's 9th state champion

It was a state wrestling championship that was 363 days in the making.

Almost a year ago to the day, Desert Vista's Robbie Mathers missed a shot at winning a state 5A-I 112-pound title as a freshman when he lost to Chandler's Vidal Max Mejia in the semifinal round.

Mathers didn't forget and got some measure of revenge in February at Arizona State University's Wells Fargo Arena where he defeated Mejia, 7-5, for this season's crown in the same weight class.

"It was a tough match," Mathers said, "but, yeah, I wanted to come back this year and beat him. I knew I was going to win, and I guess I wanted it more than he did."

Mountain Pointe's surprising run in baseball

The Pride, the sixth seed, pulled off some upsets on the way to the Class 5A Division I state title game, beating No. 3 Chandler Hamilton and No. 2 Gilbert Mesquite, to get to Camelback Ranch Stadium.

It was all the Pride had before falling to No. 1 Mesa Desert Ridge, 11-4, in the championship game.

"I've said the whole year that this is the best group of boys I've had the privilege of coaching," Mountain Pointe coach Brandon Buck said after the defeat.

In the defeat, the Pride's Kevin Cron tied the state record with his 22nd home run of the season.

DV pole vaulters set state, national marks

Thunder Shaylah Simpson soared to new heights as she set the girls state record at 13 feet and 4 inches at the Meet of Champions in Queen Creek.

"When I woke up that morning I was really sick," Simpson recalled. "My stomach hurt, I couldn't eat anything all day, I felt queasy, and I had a headache."

That isn't usually a recipe for success.

"I think it helped," she explained, "because I didn't put any expectations in myself. I thought, ‘I'm sick, but we'll see what happens,' and I ended up jumping 13-4."

Also, Desert Vista's girls program became the first in the country to have five girls clear 12-1 in the same season.

Saleem nabs tennis title

Desert Vista senior Ahmad Saleem closed his eyes, raised both arms above his head and briefly permitted himself to indulge in victory after he won the match point and his first state title with a comeback 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Tucson Salpointe Catholic's Mitch McDaniels Saturday afternoon at the Paseo Racquet Club in Glendale.

"It probably wasn't the best match I've ever played," Saleem said, "but it was my most memorable."

Olsen repeats in pool

Desert Vista senior Katie Olsen won the Division I breaststroke with a time of 1 minute and 02.00 seconds and helped the Thunder to the 200 medley relay gold medal as well.

The relay team was Mickey Melosi, Olsen, Lauren Torres and Mary Geavaras.

Olsen, who committed to Stanford, was unable to break her state record of 1:00.68 in the breast.

Ward calls it quits

Longtime Ahwatukee Foothills News sport writer Larry Ward penned his final story in July, ending a 50-year career in the industry, including the last 10 years at AFN.

Ward was the face of the sports section for so long that he became like family, the nice, soft spoken uncle, to both Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe.

Harris out, Williams in

Just two years after leading Desert Vista to the Class 5A Division I state title in boys basketball, Doug Harris didn't have his contract renewed after two losing seasons.

The school brought in David Williams, who made a name for himself in the club coaching ranks with the Arizona Stars and at the junior college level with South Mountain and Scottsdale.

Ahwatukee Little League come up short

There was no chance at Williamsport hysteria this year.

The Ahwatukee Little League Majors team was knocked out of the District 13 All-Star tournament after five of the seven teams in its age group finished at the top of the standings at with a 4-2 record.

It came down to a tiebreaker and ALL came out on the short end, meaning it won't move on to the semifinals and play for a chance to for the district title.

To be sure this by no means encapsulates the entire year in Ahwatukee Foothills in 2010; just some of the good memories that needed to be pointed out.

Ones that just might be hard to beat in 2011.

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