Finally, the wondering is over. A two-year collection of mailings, visits and questions infiltrated Buddy Turner's life as he tried to choose a college that combined top-notch academics and a top-notch swimming program.
Many schools applied. The University of Southern California won. The Scottsdale Horizon senior is expected to sign a letter of intent with the Trojans this morning, ending a parade of major Division I sales pitches, and, perhaps, a chance to exhale.
"It was flattering in the beginning," he said. "Toward the end it became very stressful."
Turner recently won two individual titles for the third consecutive year at the 5A-I state meet, but narrowly missed the state record in the 50 freestyle he was aiming for.
He took an unofficial visit to USC in July and an official recruiting trip last weekend. The proximity of the beach, staying close to home and USC's national prowess in the pool won out over Arizona and Auburn.
It also helped USC's chances that Turner is a "huge" college football fan. He said he plans to move to Southern California after graduation to train and become acclimated to the area.
For now, he can breathe a sigh of relief. "It's finally over," he said. "I'll enjoy it while I have the chance."
Longtime duo pack it in: Mesa High volleyball coaches Keith Emrick and Lou Kerby, who have shared the head coaching role for the girls program, have retired from co-coaching duties.
It was hard to know who deserved or wanted top billing on Mesa volleyball letterhead, but they seemed to alternate as mouthpieces for the program year to year. They also helped get boys volleyball up and rolling in the district a decade ago. At least one or the other has been running the program since the 1982-83 school year.
Wolves on the mend: Chandler High safety Brandon Trowbridge is set to return to action this week after missing the last two games with a high ankle sprain. Trowbridge went down in Week 9 against Gilbert Highland and missed the regular-season finale with Chandler Hamilton and last week's playoff opener with Phoenix St. Mary's.
Padres lose Dixon: Tempe Marcos de Niza's secondary took a big hit in Friday's playoff game against Glendale Ironwood when Aaron Dixon was lost for the season after injuring his leg defending a pass.
The senior went up to deflect a pass intended for Eric Hagg Jr., but landed awkwardly. After the game he wore a large cast and used a crutch.
Toro streak keeps rolling: Mesa Mountain View ran its consecutive-year playoff streak to 22 by participating (and winning) its first-round game last week against Casa Grande. It marked the 15th time in the last 16 years the Toros won at least one playoff game. The only opening-round loss in that time period was to Mesa Red Mountain in 2000. Red Mountain went on to win the 5A title that season. In 1991 the Toros lost in the opening round to Phoenix St. Mary's, which went on to win the title that season.
• Casey Merrell, Gilbert, Louisiana-Lafayette
• Maya Janousek, Corona del Sol, Northern Arizona
• Jillian Klassen, Scottsdale Christian, Samford
• Jessica Davis, Westwood, Purdue
• Aleesha Miller, Mountain View, Brigham Young
• Lauren Walker, Mountain View, San Diego State
• Buddy Turner, Horizon, USC
• Dani Lougheed, Scottsdale Christian, Arizona State
• Emily Pierce, Desert Vista, Wagner
• Andrea Ortega, Coronado, Fresno State
• Ashley Smith, Xavier, Arizona State