Not every athlete from Desert Vista or Mountain Pointe took home trophies or medals, but they all came away from the past school year with memories.
Going back to last fall, through the winter and into this spring season, both Ahwatukee Foothills high schools were well represented in the sporting arena.
By the time the rest of the state realized that this year’s Mountain Pointe football team, which went 2-8 the previous season was for real, it was too late.
After the opening four games of the season, the Pride were on an undefeated roll under first-year coach Norris Vaughan, and it didn’t end until the state semifinals.
Mountain Pointe came back from the dead against Gilbert Desert Ridge. The Jaguars had buried the Pride, 28-0, by the end of the first half, but Mountain Pointe rallied for a 35-34 victory. They came back from a 10-0 deficit against Chandler Basha to win, 21-10, then beat the Bears again in the playoffs with a two-point conversion in overtime. They also knocked off unbeaten Tempe Marcos de Niza in the final regular season game of the year and took a 12-0 record into the semifinals before Mesa ended the year with a 14-10 win.
Although they had not played together before the season started, Mountain Pointe seniors Sienna Martinez and Holly Phillips clicked on the badminton court.
They swept through the individual badminton doubles championship and after a scare in the second set of the title match they dominated the third set to win the state 5A-I title.
The Pride were also runner-up in the team championship.
They could have put Katie Olsen’s name on the 100-yard breastroke championship before the state meet ever began last November.
The Desert Vista junior shattered her own state 5A-I record by almost 2 seconds in winning her second straight title in that event and added another gold medal in the 50-yard freestyle.
She was named Swimmer of the Year while Desert Vista’s girls swim and dive team, which scored 323 points for a runner-up spot for the second consecutive year behind 24-time state champion Phoenix Xavier. The team was the fourth in history to score more than 300 points and place second.
The Desert Vista boys team was also a runner-up, finishing behind another powerhouse, Phoenix Brophy, while the Mountain Pointe girls team moved up from 12th the previous year to eighth, helping Steve Mancuso win the Coach of the Year honors.
Led by a sixth-place overall finish by Megan Kupres and Jenna Maack’s eighth overall spot, Desert Vista’s girls cross country placed second behind Phoenix Xavier in the state championship meet.
Although they didn’t have an all-state golfer in the Top-10, Desert Vista’s boys team had its best finish in school history when it place second behind five-time defending champion Chandler Hamilton.
Desert Vista’s sixth-seeded girls soccer team defeated third-seeded Chandler Hamilton on overtime penalty kicks (6-5) in the quarterfinals of the state championship, then lost to Tempe Corona del Sol in the semifinals by the same score.
Desert Vista’s girls basketball team gave an idea of what kind of team they could be when they won the competitive Blue Division in the national Nike Tournament of Champions.
The Thunder lost to Chandler Hamilton in the opening round of the playoffs.
After finishing second in the 112-pound class as a freshman, Desert Vista sophomore Robbie Mathers came back to beat the wrestler he lost to a year earlier, Vidal Max Mejia from Chandler, 7-5, to win that division’s state championship
Desert Vista’s Ahmad Saleem had been to the state tennis championship tournament every year since he was a freshman and this season was his last chance to leave with a title.
He had finished second twice in the state tennis doubles tournament with Jacob Barnaby and was third in the singles last year, but Saleem made the most of his last high school trip to center court with a comeback.
Saleem lost the first set, 2-6, then stormed back, 6-2, 6-3, to win the championship, which was also the first for the Desert Vista tennis team.
Track and Field
They called them The Magnificent Seven.
Desert Vista became the first high school program to have five of those seven girl pole vaulters clear 12-feet, 1-inch in the same season, and they were paced by senior Shaylah Simpson, who won the state championship clearing 12-6 at the finals.
But that wasn’t good enough for the Arizona State University-bound Simpson who came back a week later in the Meet of Champions to set a state record of 13-4.
Simpson’s teammate, Heather Arseneau also cleared 13 feet earlier in the season.
Arseneau, Lindsay Jantzi, Kylie Harmon, Courtney Reginato and Emily Heisler won six of the top seven spots in the event.
Desert Vista junior Yasime Yacut won an individual gold medal in the 800-meter run in the state finals to help the Thunder place second behind Chandler.
After being eliminated after the opening two rounds of the state 5A-I baseball playoffs, Mountain Pointe had the arms, bats, gloves and talent to make it to the championship game this season.
The Pride, who had been shut out once all season, rebounded from a 4-0 loss to Gilbert Mesquite in the semifinals of the double-elimination tournament. They came back with a 7-6 victory over the Wildcats in the second game of a doubleheader.
Junior Kevin Cron finished the season with 22 home runs, including one in the 11-4 championship game loss to Gilbert Desert Ridge. Cron tied former Desert Vista player Corey Myers for the state single-season record.
The Pride’s only other championship game came in 1995 when they lost to Scottsdale Horizon.
Other Area High Schools
Valley Christian beat Willcox, 41-32, to win its second state 2A championship.
To get to the title game the Trojans had to defeat an old nemesis, St. John’s, 26-24 in the semifinals. St. John’s ended Valley Christian’s season in 2007 and 2008 with victories in the semifinals.
After losing the first set, Valley Christian defeated Thatcher for the girls volleyball 2A championship.
It was the ninth state title for the Trojans, but the first since 2000. Valley Christian had an eight-year championship streak going from 1993 through 2000.
Maryjo Kolze, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident and three-time All-State volleyball player who has been attending Tempe McClintock High School, was named the Arizona Interscholastic Association Dr. Voie Stuart Chase Coy 4A-5A female Scholar/Athlete of the Year Award for 2010 as well as the winner of this year’s Kori Jacobson Award as the top female athlete in the Tempe Union High School District.