Gilbert fall sports wrap

Highland’s cross country program took home hardware from the state meet, as the boys placed first and the girls second this season.

The end of the fall sports season has officially arrived, as athletes from all Gilbert schools have already jumped into winter sports seasons.

The beginning of yet another round of prep sports allows the time to reflect on what was a successful season for several teams.

Here’s a look at how each school fared in the fall sports season.

Highland

For the second straight year, Highland High Schools fall sports teams ended their respective seasons with success. The cross country program led the way with senior Leo Daschbach winning the boys Division I individual championship, which helped the Highland team capture the team title. The girls finished second to join their counterparts on the podium. The Highland football program capped off another solid outing with a trip to the quarterfinals, while the girls volleyball team made a run to the semifinals as the No. 4 seed in the tournament.

The Highland girls golf team finished fourth overall in state after finishing with a score of 625 through the three-day event. Ashley Catchpole elevated the Highland girls swim team to an eighth-place finish at state after she placed second in the girls 100-yard butterfly and fifth in the 100-yard backstroke. Highland’s badminton team also moved on to postseason play but fell in the first round of the Division I tournament.

Desert Ridge

Desert Ridge’s swim program dove headfirst into the conversations as one of the best in the state after impressive performances across the board at the championship meet. Luke Walker placed first in the 200-yard individual medley and came in second in the 500-yard freestyle. Camron Pazand improved Desert Ridge’s team score with a third-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle, while Essias Smith captured gold in the 100-yard butterfly. Karina Harr, the daughter of Desert Ridge coach Brock Harr, finished fourth in the girls 100-yard butterfly. Desert Ridge’s girls finished ninth overall in the state while the boys placed third.

While the swim team handled business in the pool, the Desert Ridge football program did the same on the field. The Jaguars rattled off four wins in a row to win the region title before losing in the quarterfinals of the 6A playoffs. The volleyball team, meanwhile, also made the postseason as the 13-seed while Halle Swinney represented the Jaguars in the singles badminton tournament. 

Perry

Perry’s badminton team has long been one of the most dominating teams in Division I, and they proved that yet again this season. The team captured their third straight badminton title, while Nikhita Jayaraj and Ashley Rodarte beat teammates Sophie Jex and Megan Dye to claim the doubles championship. The volleyball team continued the Pumas’ success on the court with a second-place finish in the 6A Conference tournament, losing to Basha in five sets. Kalli Fama finished second in both the girls 100-yard freestyle and backstroke to help the Pumas place sixth overall in Division I.

The football program, which appeared in the last two 6A Conference championships, fell short in the quarterfinals after a shootout with Desert Vista. The boys cross country program finished eighth while the girls placed fifth in state.

Gilbert

For the second year in a row, the Gilbert football program made the 5A Conference playoffs. Alexandra and Taylor Bevell also made the postseason, representing Gilbert in the badminton doubles tournament. The Tiger swim program saw success in the pool thanks to Landon Driggers’ second-place finish in the boys 200-yard individual medley and fourth-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke. Rachel Lythe, meanwhile, placed third in the girls 100 butterfly and Madison Caserio third in the 500 freestyle.

The top-five finishes helped the girls finish 12th overall and the boys 11th at the state swim meet. The volleyball program also made the postseason but fell in the first round as the ninth-ranked team.

Mesquite

Mesquite High’s badminton team captured the Division II championship on their home court this fall. Alyssa Dong and Sabrina Farias led the way by capturing the doubles state title. Meanwhile, the football program won its first championship in school history against Desert Edge.

The Mesquite volleyball program made the postseason while Andrew Pocock represented the Wildcat swim program on the podium after placing fourth in the boys 500- and 200-yard freestyle.

Higley

The Higley golf program captured its first state title in program history this season, paving the way for further success in the school’s athletics programs. Jackson Keaton Jones, a freshman Olympic Trial qualifier at Higley, wowed spectators with a first-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle both at the state meet and the Meet of Champions. Jones also finished second in the 100-yard backstroke at state and third at the Meet of Champions. His top finishes helped the boy place seventh overall in the state this season.

The girls cross country team came through with a top-10 finish at the state meet, finishing ninth overall. The boys football program, at one point in the conversation as one of the top eight teams in the state, couldn’t hold off a rally by Campo Verde in the quarterfinals. But the football program received plenty of honors, as Knights coach Eddy Zubey was selected to coach in the Under Armour All-America Game in January. Senior defensive end Jason Harris will play in the game.

Campo Verde

Senior Kenny Edwards captured gold in the Division II cross country race at the state meet to help the boys finish fifth overall. In the pool, the boys swim team finished first overall at the Meet of Champions in the 200-yard medley relay, capping off an impressive performance by several Coyote swimmers at the state meet. Paige Treptow represented the girls by finishing second in the 50-yard freestyle and third in the 100 at the Meet of Champions.

The football program lost three straight to end the regular season but has since gone undefeated through the playoffs. The Coyotes, nicknamed “Team 9,” played region foe Williams Field for the 5A championship on Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium.

Williams Field

The Williams Field football program captured its second title in four years Saturday against Campo Verde after finishing as the No. 1 team in the 5A Conference. The Black Hawks started the regular season with two straight losses but won 12 straight games to close the season.

Rylan Johnson helped the Williams Field boys golf program finish seventh overall in the state championships after he placed fourth in Division II. His teammates, Carl Milton and Noah Plaza, were close behind in eighth and ninth, respectively.

Casteel

Led by Dayton Carlson’s seventh-place finish, the Casteel boys cross country program managed to place second overall in Division II at the state meet. The girls, led by Cassidy Cann’s eighth-place finish, placed fifth overall. Rio Newcombe placed third in boys Division II golf followed by his teammate, Wyatt Chapman in fourth. The two helped lead Casteel to a fifth-place finish overall in the division.

The volleyball program made the postseason tournament but fell in the first round. The football program, led by second-year coach Bobby Newcombe, advanced to the 5A semifinals before falling to top-ranked Williams Field. 

ALA - Gilbert North

American Leadership Academy – Gilbert North’s football program made the 3A quarterfinals and nearly knocked off top-ranked Benjamin Franklin to advance to the semis.

The volleyball program also made it to postseason play as the No. 12 ranked team in 3A but fell in the first round.

Gilbert Christian

Nathan Kempiak impressed in the Division III swim state championships, finishing third in the 50-yard freestyle and first in the 100-yard backstroke. He helped the Knights place 11th overall.

Arete Prep

The Arete Prep football team made it to the 1A Conference playoffs for the second straight year before falling to eventual champion Williams in the quarterfinals.

The Charger girls’ swim program impressed in Division III, placing eighth overall. Adam Whitehead represented Arete Prep with a second-place finish in the Division IV cross country race.

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at zalvira@timespublications.com and follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira.

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