The Cactus Canyon girls soccer team emerged victorious in the DSMAL championship on May 8. The Cougars finished their season with a 7-3 overall record.
No. 3-seed Cactus Canyon blanked No. 2-seed Maricopa Wells 1-0 in the semifinals, and shut out Benjamin Franklin 1-0 for the championship. Cassie Baker scored the CCJH goal in the title match.
The Cougars’ season scoring leaders: Cassie Baker, 11 goals and four assists; Megan Gossman, five goals and four assists; Mya Talty, five goals and three assists; Olivia Scalmato, three goals and four assists.
CCJH goalkeeper Aralyn Brennan recorded 38 saves on the season, including three in the semifinals and four in the championship match. #WeAreAJ
Apache Junction’s annual spring football game changed things up a little bit on May 16, providing a fun evening for players and fans alike at Davis Field. The Prospectors offense and defense squared off with a 7-on-7 passing game for four periods. Between each quarter, there was a big man competition for the linemen who didn’t have much to do during the 7-on-7. This included a tire-flipping relay and a tug-of-war between the offense and defense.
Apache Junction’s Austin Sample was selected as the 4A Black Canyon Region baseball player of the year in a recent vote of the region coaches. Sample, a senior pitcher and infielder who is headed to Minot State University (N.D.), was also named to the region’s first team for the second straight season. He hit .456 for the Prospectors with a .493 on-base percentage and a .764 slugging percentage.
Sometimes, athletes can have either bad luck, or no luck at all. Ask the javelin-throwing contingent of Apache Junction. In the Division 3 boys javelin event on May 3 at the AIA state track and field meet, the runway for the javelin was moved to the end of the track at Mesa Community College. For those used to throwing off the grass, it proved to be a difficult adjustment, since it also required using shoes with spikes instead of cleats.
Spring football has started for Apache Junction, as the Prospectors prepare for their annual spring game, scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 16, at Davis Field. “We’d like to see as many people come out as possible to see what we’ve got,” Miller said. “We’ll have a different format this year. “In the past, we did 11 on 11, but we’re not in pads and the linemen had to just stand around.
Throwing back-to-back games is tough for any softball pitcher, as Imagine Prep-Superstition’s Jorian Foley learned in the CAA Division 2 State Tournament. Foley was in the circle for the Lady Prospectors’ 11-7 opening round win over Mesa Sequoia and their 9-0 loss in the semifinals to Maricopa Sequoia Pathway Academy. “My arm feels great. It’s a little sore, but I made it through two games,” Foley said. “It was definitely really hot, but I fought through it.”
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) has posted the 2019-20 Arizona Hunting Regulations online at www.azgfd.gov/draw. The department now is accepting paper applications for 2019 hunt permit-tags issued through the draw process for deer, fall turkey, fall javelina, bighorn sheep, fall bison and sandhill crane.
In Hailli Wilson’s mind, there’s never been any question about what spring sport the Apache Junction High athlete prefers. While softball would seem to be a natural option, Wilson chooses baseball. She always has. “I played softball for a week when I was, maybe, 7. I tried it and it wasn’t for me,” Wilson explained after the Prospectors’ Senior Night game on April 18. “Baseball is where my heart is, and it’s always going to be that way.”
From the time she first started playing softball, Cori Haro always felt she was trying to play catch-up. “I started softball late. I started in sixth grade, so I always worked harder than anybody, because I wasn’t where everybody else was,” said Haro, Apache Junction’s left fielder. Part of that effort to catch up involved staying after practice to take fly balls and grounders.
The deadline for golfers has passed, but sponsorship opportunities are still available for the 7th annual Imagine Prep Superstition golf tournament fundraiser, scheduled for May 11 at Las Colinas Golf Club. Lou Stirpe, athletic coordinator at IPS, said that in addition to the lunch, beverage, Panther Pride, Gold and Silver sponsorships, the tournament is also looking for donations of raffle prizes. All proceeds go to the Imagine Prep athletic program and student clubs.
On a warm Saturday morning of April 13, Apache Junction and nine other schools got together for some 7-on-7 passing games, as well as side competitions for the big guys. “We knocked the rust off. That was the biggest thing,” Prospectors Coach Vance Miller said. “We came out a little slow, but got better every single game. “It was a long day that wore on everybody. We slowed down, but so did everybody else. It’s not so much conditioning; it’s just a long day.
Like a number of her teammates on the inaugural Imagine Prep-Superstition softball roster of a year ago, Litzy Vega Diaz had no prior experience in the sport before taking it up. “Last year was my first year ever touching a softball or a bat,” Vega Diaz said following the Lady Panthers’ 16-1 win over Imagine Prep-Coolidge on April 17 at Prospector Park. “I’ve definitely grown from last year and as a person.
Benching it can be difficult for any athlete in any sport. Three of Apache Junction’s softball reserves make the most of that situation, while making their teammates smile at the same time. Senior Esther Nieman, junior Emily Lecher and sophomore Ainsley Pape assigned themselves the positions of center-bench, right-bench and left-bench, respectively. The Lady Prospectors’ dugout hasn’t been the same since.
It was Senior Night for Apache Junction girls tennis on April 11, and the Lady Prospectors came through with a 6-3 victory over Gilbert Mesquite in their regular season home finale. Prior to the dual, AJHS seniors Alicia Frank (left) and Riyanh De Guzman were honored. Frank will attend Mesa Community College, then go to New York to pursue a theater degree. De Guzman will attend MCC before transferring to University of Arizona, studying to become a medical assistant.
Inside-the-park grand slams don’t happen often, so Imagine Prep-Superstition catcher Tynley Floyd was asked how exciting that accomplishment would be, compared to kicking a game-winning field goal. Last fall, Floyd was on the Panthers’ football roster as a kicking specialist. This spring, she took over catching chores for the Lady Panthers in the program’s second season of CAA softball.
Adam Abbatacola, a 2015 graduate of Apache Junction High School, was named an NFF Valley of the Sun Chapter college scholar-athlete award winner for 2019. Abbatacola is seeking a B.A. from ACU this May, with a major in business administration and a minor in Biblical studies. In 2018, Abbatacola, a 6-3, 195-pound junior, led Arizona Christian to its best won-lost record (8-3) in the university’s brief history.
Apache Junction pitcher Elexis Toro tossed a no-hitter against Glendale on April 4, as the visiting Lady Prospectors completed a back-to-back sweep with a 16-0, five-inning Black Canyon Region victory over the Cardinals. Toro (7-4), a junior right-hander, struck out nine and walked one. She was also 1-for-2 with a two-run double and two runs scored.
Apache Junction remains undefeated in 4A Black Canyon Region play, as right-hander Jake Washburn threw a 14-0 five-inning no-hitter on March 26 against El Mirage Dysart. “I was excited on that last out,” Washburn said. “I was disappointed in being one pitch away from throwing a perfect game, but a win’s a win.”
Emily Rutkowski was looking for a chance to get away from home to play collegiate soccer, and got her wish. On Thursday, March 28, Rutkowski signed her national letter of intent to play for Pacific University of Oregon, an NCAA Division III program located 25 miles west of Portland. “I liked the area, and the coach is super cool,” Rutkowski said.
Caught in the excitement of their softball game against visiting El Mirage Dysart on March 28, Apache Junction didn’t need a triple play with one out in the fifth inning, but turned one anyway. With one out and runners at first and second, pitcher Tristen Greer snagged a soft popup, fired to Sarah Nieman at first for a force to end the inning, and Nieman fired on to second baseman Elexis Toro for another force that was moot.
Five games into their CAA softball schedule, Imagine Prep-Superstition is showing improvement in the program’s second season. Jorian Foley threw a one-hitter for the Lady Panthers in a 14-0 win over Heritage-Mesa at Prospector Park, striking out 10. Tynley Floyd scored three runs and stole two bases. “I just had a really good catcher (Floyd) that went to a couple of pitching lessons with me. When she saw something wrong, she would point it out,” Foley said.
With spring officially here, it’s time to get a strategy for some Arizona spring fishing. This fishing forecast includes detailed predictions of how primary water bodies statewide might rate this spring. Here is the Roosevelt Lake outlook from the Central Region forecast: Lake temperatures will be warming up from mid 50s in March to low 70s in May. Typically largemouth bass spawning is cued when temperatures reach 60 to 70 degrees.
With his collegiate decision out of the way, Apache Junction senior Austin Sample admits he can “relax and just play baseball.” Sample struck out 14, and helped himself at the plate going 2-for-3, including a two-run home run in the first inning, as the Prospectors completed a Black Canyon Region sweep of Phoenix Washington with a 5-3 win over the Rams on March 21.
The Superstition Fire & Medical District, AJ Parks & Recreation and AJ Police Department are teaming up once again to hold the annual April Pool’s Day water safety event on Saturday, April 27th at the Superstition Shadows Aquatic Center. Our water safety instructors, lifeguards and a variety of vendors will be on hand to teach your family about the importance of being safe in, on and around the water.
March 4 BOYS TENNIS: MIAMI 9, APACHE JUNCTION 0 SINGLES: Michael Troglia, M, def. Matthew DeGuzman 6-2, 6-0; Mario Pierce, M, def. Thomas Duarte 5-7, 6-1 (10-4). Miami won 3 through 6 by forfeit. DOUBLES: Troglia/Pierce, M, def. DeGuzman/Duarte 8-3. Miami won 2 and 3 by forfeit.
Following a two-time region player-of-the-year isn’t easy, but Apache Junction’s Elexis Toro and Tristin Greer are left with little choice. Both Toro and Greer pitched occasionally last season to give Mikayla (“Mouse”) Gilgert an occasional break. Gilgert has moved on to Georgian Court (N.J.), and the incumbent hurlers are determined to create their own legacies.
After sporting a veteran lineup in 2018, third-year coach Sierra Lawson has very young Apache Junction girls tennis squad to tutor. “We have four returning players, and three new players,” Lawson said. “We’re still recruiting some upper classmen, and it’s a matter of teaching them the sport. Early on, the Lady Prospectors have faced difficult veteran opponents like Glendale and Chandler Seton Catholic, but Lawson remains optimistic.
Apache Junction won its three pool play games in the Joe Padilla Invitational baseball tournament, hosted by Florence and San Tan Foothills. On Feb. 27, the Prospectors defeated Miami 4-2. Bryce Maloney, JJ Bradley, Hailli Wilson, Austin Sample, Sebastian Wells, Adam Belscher and Remy Wiltz each collected hits; Wells, Belscher and Wiltz each drove in a run. Maloney was the winning pitcher; Washburn earned a save.
No sooner did Jacob Digiacomo and Kaleb Thornlow of Imagine Prep-Superstition finish celebrating their CAA state wresting success, it was on to other challenges. First, the matter of helping clean the wrestling room. Next, heading off to cross country practice. But before that, they took a moment to talk about their big weekend.
The AIA recently announced its 4A All-Black Canyon Region selections for girls soccer, boys basketball and girls basketball. GIRLS SOCCER: Senior midfielder Emily Rutkowski and sophomore defender SeAnna Brennan were named to the first team. Junior forward Memarie Gallegos and sophomore midfielder Jaden Miner were second-team selections.
Apache Junction won its softball season opener in the first round of the Mesa Dobson/Westwood tournament on Feb. 20, edging Chandler Seton Catholic 7-6. AJ blew a 6-1 lead, won when Tristan Greer singled to right, Cori Haro bunted Greer to third, and Sarah Nieman lined a base hit up the middle, scoring Greer.
Apache Junction had two individual place winners at the AIA State Division III wrestling tournament, held Feb. 7-8 at Prescott Valley. Ethan Wright, the Prospectors’ 220-pounder, claimed fourth place, while Gibson Limongello was the fifth-place winner at 182.
After a successful Senior Night 5-1 win over San Tan Valley Combs on Feb. 5, Apache Junction received the good news it hoped for by qualifying for the 4A playoffs. As the No. 24-seed, the Lady Prospectors traveled to Tucson on Feb. 7 and gave No. 9 Canyon del Oro a battle.
It was good news and bad news for Imagine Prep-Superstition in its CAA Division II boys basketball playoff victory over visiting Phoenix Crestview College Prep on Feb. 8 at Panther Arena. The Panthers won 66-46, moving on to the third round on Feb. 12, where they will possibly be without sophomore forward Isaiah Broady, who was ejected from the contest.
Imagine Prep-Superstition recognized its senior boys basketball players prior to the Panthers’ Jan. 29 CAA Division II contest against Scottsdale Bella Vista Prep. Along with players Jorge Garcia and Jose Artalejo, senior cheer members include Chloe Cox, Taylor Fetter, Glenda Sabori, Angela Esparza, Maria Aguilar, Litzy Vega-Diaz and Itzel Licon.
Scoring three goals in a soccer match is difficult enough. Getting three assists doesn’t happen often, but Apache Junction midfielder Lauren Powell did just that in the Lady Prospectors’ 4-0 victory over Phoenix Cortez at Davis Field. The Black Canyon Region win also kept the Lady Prospectors’ slim playoff hopes alive with one regular season match remaining.
It was Senior Night for Apache Junction boys basketball on Jan. 29, honoring Branson Green, Dayton Baldwin, Ben Jones and Max Farris. The home team almost came through with a Black Canyon Region win, but eventually fell to Glendale 62-60 in overtime. AJ led 56-54 on a Baldwin free throw with 31.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Apache Junction girls basketball has won six of its last eight games, including a 33-19 Black Canyon Region win over visiting Phoenix Cortez on Jan. 31. “I think our defense was pretty good out there,” AJHS Coach Sam Valencia said. “It was a little rough out there and it got a little chippy at the end. Talent-wise, I knew we were more talented fundamentally.”
Apache Junction wrestler Robert Adams was busy helping out at the scoring table during the Prospectors’ Senior Night on Jan. 23 at the AJHS gym. It wasn’t quite where he wanted to be. Adams has missed most of the season with a right knee ACL and meniscus injury. “It’s pretty tough to be watching,” Adams, a 182-pounder, said. “I came back a week ago, but I messed up a little, so it’s tough to get back to being ready.
After scoring a game-high 25 points, Apache Junction guard Kaylee Smith was just as pleased with her performance at the free throw line in the Lady Prospectors’ 55-45 girls basketball win over El Mirage Dysart. Smith sank 10-of-13 foul shots – including 5-of-6 in the fourth quarter, as AJHS handed Dysart its first 4A Black Canyon Region loss of the season.
Apache Junction’s girls soccer playoff hopes were dealt a serious blow on Jan. 24, when El Mirage Dysart scored all three of its goals within a 3-minute span in the second half and beat the Lady Prospectors 3-2. Teams ranked 9 through 24 are seeded for a play-in round.
Imagine Prep-Superstition continued its successful wrestling schedule with a team championship in the Warriors Classic on Jan. 19 at American Leadership Academy-Ironwood. First place individual finishes for the Panthers include Jacob Digiacomo (106), Kaleb Thornlow (113) and Joey Garcia (152).
After taking a year off from wrestling, Apache Junction’s Gibson Limongello is making up for lost time. Limongello, AJ’s 182-pounder, earned the Prospectors’ lone individual title on Jan. 12 in the annual Prospector Invitational wrestling tournament, held at the AJHS gym.
Apache Junction junior forward Nick Moorhead celebrated his birthday by sinking a pair of last-second free throws to give the Prospectors a 39-37 4A Black Canyon Region boys basketball victory over Phoenix Cortez on Jan. 15 at the AJHS gym. Make that – last half-second.
Haro was a 4A All-State second-team outfielder, a first-team all-4A Black Canyon Region selection in 2018 and a second-team all-region choice in 2017. As a junior, Haro drove in 32 runs while hitting .489, had a .561 OBP, .586 slugging percentage, and stole 11 bases.
Lopsided as the score of Imagine Prep-Superstition’s CAA boys basketball game on Tuesday against EVAC, a winner has yet to be determined. With the Panthers leading 37-6 with 3:47 remaining in the second quarter, the last in a series of stoppages to address water condensation on the playing floor brought the game to a halt.
The playing surface at Davis Field still had some slick spots after taking a heavy rain earlier in the week. Apache Junction forward Memarie Gallegos found herself covered with mud in the second half against Casa Grande Union on Jan. 11, but in a good way.
Imagine Prep-Superstition used a timely third-quarter run to pull away from Sequoia Pathway on Jan. 18 and defeated the Pumas 64-46 in CAA boys basketball at Panther Arena. The Panthers improved to 9-5 overall, 3-2 in the CAA Division II, Region 7.
Apache Junction senior Emily Rutkowski scored three goals and assisted on another in the Lady Prospectors’ 12-0 rout of visiting Buckeye Union on Dec. 18 at Davis Field. Given the choice, she would prefer a tougher match. “Actually, I do not think they’re fun at all,” Emily said of the one-sided win.
After scoring its first head coaching victory for Coach Cornelius Turner, Apache Junction traveled to Phoenix Washington on Dec. 20 and fell 55-36 to the Rams in the 4A Black Canyon Region opener for both teams. Washington (6-7 overall, 1-0 region) jumped to a 24-12 halftime lead and outscored the Prospectors 20-10 in the third quarter.
JANUARY: The court wasn’t the only place action could be found during Apache Junction’s girls basketball game against Scottsdale Coronado on Jan. 10. As the game wore on, the bleachers became more boisterous, and, in the perception of the referees, less than cordial. As a result, the Dons came from behind and won the 4A Black Canyon Region game 44-41 before what became a nearly empty AJHS gym.
Imagine Prep-Superstition enjoyed a successful day of wrestling on Dec. 8, finishing in second place overall, with three first place finishes in the Eagle Classic tournament at Imagine Prep-Coolidge. The Panthers narrowly missed first place 110-104 to champion Harvest Prep.
Apache Junction won two of three duals in a multi-team wrestling meet, held Dec. 12 at the AJHS gym. The Prospectors edged American Leadership Academy-Queen Creek 36-34 and beat Chandler Seton Catholic 48-18. Tempe Marcos de Niza defeated AJHS 51-27.
Apache Junction dropped its sixth straight game to open the 4A boys basketball season on Dec. 11, falling 63-29 to Scottsdale Saguaro at the AJHS gym. Saguaro jumped to a 23-3 first quarter lead. The Prospectors were held scoreless until Jimari Grayson converted a three-point play with 1:35 left in the opening period.
Austin Sample’s baseball career had a notable start three years ago at Surprise Stadium when he nailed down the save in the Prospectors’ 2016 Division IV state championship game as a freshman. Now a senior, Sample announced he’ll be taking his talents to the next level, signing a national letter of intent to play for Minot State University (N.D.).
A rough start and a lengthy scoring drought worked against Apache Junction in its home 4A boys basketball game on Dec. 6 against Tempe Marcos de Niza. The Padres prevailed in the 4A non-region contest 52-38. “We didn’t start the game out the way we wanted to,” AJ Coach Cornelius Turner said.
Imagine Prep-Superstition had its season-opening three-game winning streak snapped at home on Nov. 27, when Chandler Tri-City Christian held off a late Panthers rally for a 70-67 CAA boys basketball victory. “Like I told them in the locker room, ‘we won’t be as good as today as we will be good next week, and we won’t be as good next week as we will be at the end of the season,’” Panthers Coach Travis Gordon said.
Phoenix Arcadia jumped to a big early lead, held off a third quarter charge from Apache Junction, and defeated the Lady Prospectors 65-42 in 4A girls basketball on Nov. 30 at the AJHS gym. “We had a fresh scouting report on Arcadia and tried to get that information to the girls as soon as possible,” AJHS Coach Sam Valencia said. “Sometimes, it can be too much information.
San Tan Valley Poston Butte visited Apache Junction High on Nov. 27 and emerged with a 44-33 season-opening 4A boys basketball win over the Prospectors. “I was real happy with a lot of what we showed today,” Prospectors Coach Cornelius Turner said. “Until the fourth quarter, I thought we made it tough on them to score.
Going back to his earliest days of playing football, Apache Junction High graduate Alex Avakian had one unfulfilled goal. He reached it in his second season with Scottsdale Community College. The Fighting Artichokes (No. 14 NJCAA, 7-3 overall) will host Blinn of Brenham, Texas (6-4 overall), at noon this Saturday in the Valley of the Sun Bowl.
The Apache Junction Parks & Recreation’s Adult Flag Football 4-on-4 Tournament will be held on Saturday, December 22, starting at 1 p.m. at Prospector Park, 3015 N. Idaho Rd. Check-in opens at 12:30 p.m. Teams need to register by December 12 and is $100 per team. After the registration deadline, teams can email email@example.com to see if space is still available.
Apache Junction made Tyler Kassube’s head coaching debut a successful one on Nov. 27, as the Prospectors upended Chandler Seton Catholic 8-1 in boys soccer at Davis Field. “It felt good,” Kassube said. “I think the boys have responded really well. We jumped on them early, scoring twice within the first five or six minutes.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) plans to stock rainbow trout this week into the lower 3 mile walk-in section of Lees Ferry, Arizona’s premier blue-ribbon trout fishery below Glen Canyon Dam. This will be the first trout stocking at Lees Ferry since 1998.
The number of All-Black Canyon Region selections for Apache Junction football continues to grow each year. Coach Vance Miller points out, “In the last few years, we’ve gone from three to nine to 12 and now 16. It’s a way of showing the gradual improvement of our program overall, and it reflects on the all the hard work these kids are putting in.”
En route to its 4A playoff football game against Salpointe Catholic, one of the Apache Junction High buses was involved in a minor accident. No one was injured, and Coach Vance Miller insists it wasn’t an omen. Damage inflicted by Salpointe Catholic on the gridiron was another matter.
After three seasons at Western New Mexico, Megan Looney was looking for a new challenge, both athletically and academically. She found it, north of the 49th Parallel. Looney, a former Apache Junction High athlete, has transferred to Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., to complete her collegiate women’s basketball career in the 2019-20 season.
The Apache Junction High School Marching Band strutted to success, walking away with 2nd Place in the 1A Division at the Arizona Marching Band Association (AzMBA) competition at Williams Field High School, 2076 S. Higley Road in Gilbert on Saturday, Oct. 20. The percussion section earned an “Outstanding” designation.
Apache Junction made some high school football history of its own on Oct. 26, clinching its second consecutive 4A Black Canyon Region championship after defeating San Tan Valley Combs 54-27 in the Battle of Ironwood at Davis Field – something the Prospectors have never done before.
Two years ago, Dominiqu Capps suffered a severe knee injury toward the end of the girls basketball season while attending Imagine Prep-Superstition. She transferred to Apache Junction High and sat out her junior year, enduring a difficult rehab process. As a senior, Capps earned a victory just by being back in uniform and playing volleyball for AJHS.
It wasn’t just the kids who enjoyed Apache Junction’s stunning 53-52 4A Black Canyon Region football victory on Oct. 19 in Glendale against the No. 3-ranked Cardinals. Three of the Prospector assistant coaches are also AJHS alumni, who played at a time when Black and Gold football fortunes weren’t so golden.
After building a 42-point halftime lead, Apache Junction cruised to a 63-0 4A Black Canyon Region win over Phoenix Cortez at Davis Field on Oct. 12. Junior quarterback Gibson Limongello completed 6-of-9 passes for 145 yards and four touchdowns, and William Lohman ran 10 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns (plus a scoring pass reception).
AJHS (3-3 overall, 1-0 region) jumped to a 9-0 lead on Lohman’s first touchdown, a 3-yard run at 8:26 of the first quarter and a safety when Rams punter Donovan Meeks fielded a bad snap and wound up running with the ball over the end line. Washington (2-4, 0-1) surged ahead 14-9 in the second quarter.
No sooner did Apache Junction score its second touchdown on Sept. 21, the decision to attempt a go-ahead 2-point conversion was made in the Prospectors non-region football game at Davis Field against Phoenix Shadow Mountain. After AJ quarterback Gibson Limongello scored on an 18-yard touchdown run with 10:31 left in the fourth quarter, there was no hesitation on the part of the Prospector coaching staff in going for two.
Imagine Prep-Superstition announced that one of the most successful high school boys basketball programs in the nation is paying a visit to Apache Junction. Findlay Prep, annually a nationally-ranked high school program, has scheduled two games at Panther Arena – vs. Imagine Prep at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7; and vs. EDU Prize at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8. “They’re tough,” Panthers Coach Travis Gordon said. “It’s a high-caliber program that we want to model ourselves after some day.”
Apache Junction boys and girls swimming has extended its list of provisional state qualifiers. The boys 200-meter medley relay team turned in a provisional qualifying time of 1:53.02 at the Knight Invite meet, held at Gilbert Higley on Sept. 22. The girls 200 medley relay team of qualified in 2:13.82.
At the urging of his boxing coach, Erik Salas took up running. In the process, the Apache Junction High senior discovered a new athletic passion. “Running has really helped me throughout my career in boxing,” Salas said. “I really like it. That’s why I started doing it. My coach told me I had to start training by running a few miles. He would ask, ‘How many miles did you run?’ I would say, ‘None.’ And he would get mad! “That’s when I started putting in more miles.”
Three rushing touchdowns by Jonathan Anaya helped Imagine Prep-Superstition earn its first football win of the season on Sept. 14, as the Panthers blanked St. John Paul II 36-0 in CAA Open Division play at Avondale. The Panthers (1-2) opened the scoring with a safety in the first quarter, and took a 9-0 lead one minute into the second quarter on Jonathan Anaya’s 20-yard touchdown run.
Apache Junction’s football bye week couldn’t have been timed any better. The Prospectors have a chance to get their injured players healthy for the final six weeks of the season, with Black Canyon Region games on the horizon. On Friday, the Prospectors (2-2) host Phoenix Shadow Mountain. The Matadors (1-3) come in off a 32-21 loss to Phoenix Arcadia on Sept. 14, their third consecutive defeat after beating Phoenix North Canyon 27-14 in their season opener.
The Prospectors had to come from behind twice to do it, but Apache Junction outlasted Vista Grande 39-33 in a non-region 4A football contest Friday at Casa Grande, snapping a two-game losing streak. AJ’s defense forced four Spartan turnovers, including a fumble recovery on a kickoff return late in the game.
Apache Junction volleyball suffered a pair of 4A setbacks in the last week, being swept by Phoenix Arcadia and Tempe Marcos de Niza. The Lady Prospectors lost 25-15, 25-11, 25-13 to Marcos de Niza on Sept. 13 in Tempe. Mady Roach was AJ’s kill leader with four, followed by Morgan Farsolas with three, and two each by Kennedy Bishop, Addison Cooksey and Lucia Kimble.
With an influx of athleticism, Apache Junction’s girls golf team is making great strides of improvement, according to Coach Candyce Matlosz. “We’ve played a couple of teams that have real good players,” Candyce Matlosz said. “Queen Creek came out here and has three girls who are going to state. They beat us as a team, but the girls played really well with them and improved their score by almost 10 strokes.
Apache Junction High School announced its new basketball head coaches for the 2018-19 season. Cornelius Turner was named as the head varsity boys basketball coach, and Sam Valencia will take over the girls basketball program. Turner is a graduate of Mesa Dobson and Tuskegee University, where he played collegiate basketball from 1998 to 2000 after playing from 1996-98 at Scottsdale Community College.
As time expired in the first half of the Apache Junction-Tempe high school football game on Aug. 24, a monsoon shower extended halftime to an hour and 45 minutes while converting much of Davis Field to Davis Lake. After the weather system moved on, game officials and coaches of the two teams discussed the situation and agreed to continue the game, which concluded at 10:50 p.m. with the visiting Buffaloes emerging with a 23-6 non-region triumph.
After traveling 447 miles to play its football season opener, Apache Junction emerged victorious on Friday night, defeating the Royal Highlanders 28-7 at Simi Valley, Calif. The Prospectors (1-0) departed for California Thursday afternoon. “Coming in on Thursday was the best thing for us to do,” AJ Coach Vance Miller said. “That gave the kids enough down time to get some rest."
Apache Junction opened its boys golf season with a dual against Mesa Desert Ridge on Aug. 16 at Apache Creek Golf Course. The Prospectors’ Harrison Talbott finished third overall with a nine-hole score of 40, 5 over par. Jake Washburn finished fifth at 10-over (50), Matthew Swigert was eighth at 19-over (54), Wesley McJunkin was ninth at 20-over (55) and Dylan Corbett was 10th at 26-over (61).
The fishing at Roosevelt Lake is on fire, with over 20-pound bags of fish! With the temperatures in triple digits, the water is a warm 80 degrees. The fishing should be slow this time of year, however the Let’s Talk Fishin’ Night tournament anglers really stepped up on July 21. There were three teams that caught over 20 pounds, and 17 teams that caught over 10 pounds for the five-fish limit.
Evan Quiroz admitted he’d never heard of Midland University when he began searching for the next stop of his basketball career. But that’s where the Apache Junction High graduate is headed for the next four years. Quiroz recently signed his national letter of intent to play men’s basketball at the NAIA Division II school in eastern Nebraska.
Along with the new Apache Junction School District schedule come changes to the open swim hours at the pool. While the kids are in school, July 24-27 and July 30-Aug. 3, the pool has modified hours and will be open from 3-6 p.m. Open swim will be FREE of charge on these days only. (Please note, 5th session of swim lessons will not be affected by these changes.)
Coach Charlyne Long likes what she sees as she watches volleyball team hopefuls bump, set, pass and power serve in preparation for team try-outs on August 1. “There’s a lot of talent here; a lot of good players,” she muses. “I’m excited to be building from the basics and seeing where they grow.”
Just two years ago, Ian McIntyre was celebrating a state baseball championship with his Apache Junction teammates. Now, he’s learning about baseball at the junior college level, playing at San Diego City College. “It’s been good,” McIntyre, a 2017 AJHS graduate, said.
As a junior at Apache Junction High School, Justin Anderson was a key player in the Prospectors’ state Division IV baseball championship run in 2016. Two years later, Anderson got to play on a big stage again when he and his Scottsdale Community College teammates, advanced to the NJCAA World Series in Enid, OK.
MLB’s All-Star Game is scheduled for Tuesday in Washington, D.C. The game doesn’t have the luster it once did, but for a mid-season exhibition, it’s had its share of historic moments. Due, in part, because of all the pro all-star games, baseball’s is the only one that seems to work.
Aiden McIntyre got the baseball bug at age 8, and with it the dream of many young players – getting to The Show. “We lived in Pennsylvania before and baseball wasn’t really that big. Nobody in our family was really big into baseball,” the 2014 Apache Junction High graduate said.