June 10th, 2016
By Teresa Shatz and Courtney Baker
The end of any school year means reflecting back on the many memorable aspects of the year. Sports have always been a big part of the life here at Phoenix High School, and this year was no exception. With the completion of all fall, winter, and spring sports, it is time to look back on some of the best moments our athletes here at Phoenix brought to us. Our sports teams endured many tears of joy and disappointment, championships, devastating losses, and moments they will never forget. Many teams this year did not finish as strong as they had hoped, but all sports showed positive aspects and most importantly, improvement. Phoenix High School’s Athletic Director and former head football coach Toby Walker displayed a large amount of pride towards his school’s athletes. “Sports this year were exciting,” he said. “The fans were great, there was great participation and our sports teams were competitive.” Despite this year being a building season for most teams with the addition of many new coaches and players, all the Pirates still had memorable seasons of which we can be proud and many athletes were even recognized with league and all-state awards.
The year started off with fall sports, which is always a favorite time of the year for many. The fall sports season was highlighted by outstanding performances from boys soccer, football, and both cross country teams. The football team this year fought hard to win themselves the runner-up spot in the Skyline Conference, falling only to Mazama. The electrifying season was able to continue as the boys earned themselves a play-in game to North Marion, where the team’s season would eventually end. While the team had hoped to work themselves further into playoffs, they should be tremendously proud of the great season they put together for the fans this year. Many of the team worked hard this season, and it showed when the coaches in the Skyline voted for all-league awards. The spotlight remained on senior defensive lineman Mase Masalosalo- who landed first-team, along with defensive player of the year recognition, and senior running back Justin Knight- who earned co-offensive player of the year. Each player was a two-way first-team selection, Masalosalo on the line on offense and Knight in the secondary on defense.
Boys soccer also shared a successful season, earning themselves the runner-up spot in the Skyline as well. The boys carried an outstanding league record of 7-3 straight into playoffs, where they lost in a hard fought 0-1 loss. The team received well-deserved recognition, with senior Samuel Macias and junior Joel Mereida-Ford landing spots on the Skyline Conference boys soccer first-team list after voting by the coaches. The Pirates finished 9-5 overall.
In cross country, the boys and girls both qualified themselves for state yet again, and came up with some winnings. The boys worked hard and earned themselves the 2nd place spot at state. Phoenix has a handful of runner-up trophies in its history, but no titles. Skyline Conference champion Robbie Vos, a sophomore, led the way in seventh place. The girls cross team, the reigning state champions, made it to the podium for another time for the 5th place winners. Junior Danielle Jantzer led her team and reserved herself the 8th place spot this year.
The rest of the fall sports that took place here at Phoenix High School did not find themselves with the same success the teams previously mentioned had, but still worked hard and showed improvement nonetheless. Girls soccer, for example, welcomed a new coach this year but soon joined the volleyball team in the struggle to pull out a league win. From previously earning back to back Skyline conference championships, the volleyball team was met with a harsh reality this season with the loss of many key players. Despite this, senior libero Lyzett Gutierrez took home Skyline Conference second-team recognition. Emi Weiss, who earned herself honorable mention, said, “Even though we didn’t have the best record this year, we made some great memories and ended the season on a good note.” While many of our fall sports teams did not finish as well as they may have hoped, there were many great and recognizable aspects of the fall sports season.
Winter sports here at Phoenix High School ended up being a major hit, with swimming and wrestling earning the opportunity to compete at state. The swim team at Phoenix always obtains success, and this year was no different. Three senior swimmers, Emily Samudio, Lauren Speaks, and Ethan Shepard were all qualified to compete at State this winter. Speaks placed second in the 100-yard breaststroke and Shepherd took fourth in the 50 freestyle for the Phoenix swim team during the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state finals. Speaks recorded a time of 1 minute, 10.28 seconds to generate five points for the Pirates, who finished 10th out of 15 teams on the girls side. Shepherd recorded a 22.56-second time for Phoenix boys, who ended up 11th out of 12 schools.
In wrestling action, the Pirates entered the state tourney strong, with Phoenix crowning at least one state champion in eight of the last 10 trips. Senior Trace Vega, who was the regional champion at Henley, nearly made that nine in 11 years but ended up in second place to finish off his outstanding senior season. Both girls and boys basketball were very young teams this season, and ultimately were shut out by the other teams in the Skyline. However, the teams both showed large amounts of improvement as the season progressed and were still able to earn Skyline recognition. Phoenix junior Kaylene Ritter was named to the Skyline Conference second team after voting by the coaches and senior teammate Alexis De La Torre was an honorable mention honoree. On the boys side, senior Mase Masalosalo landed honorable mention recognition for the Pirates.
When spring hit Phoenix High School, the weather was beautiful and all the students were ready and excited to take part in the spring sports Phoenix has to offer. Something new about this year’s spring sports season was the addition of a girls tennis team, and many girls came out to play and were even able to participate in Districts. All of Phoenix High School is excited to see how the development of a tennis team grows throughout the next few years, and a successful first season was only the beginning!
In baseball and softball news, the girls and boys put up almost identical league records to finish off the season. Both teams fought for a chance to earn a playoff spot, but ultimately were unable to come up with one in crucial losses during league play. Both teams were, for the most part, young and showed a mass amount of improvement. Sophomore Brooke Kentner claimed that “It was fun to watch our improvement throughout the season.” While still being relatively young groups, both teams still had many victorious wins and earned plenty of all-league awards to go around. Brooke Kentner highlighted her softball team by hitting a career high of four home runs this season, all during league play, which ultimately landed her the spot on the first team list. Thomas Skaff had a successful season on the field as well, knocking in his stolen bases record to the all-time list at Phoenix High School, earning himself recognition for first team as well.
On the other side of spring sports, boys and girls golf had a rush of new players join, and the coaches could not have been more ecstatic. Coach Lonna was greatly empowered by the amount of girls who took a leap and decided to play golf this year, and she was satisfied with the hard work and effort all the girls put in, which eventually led some of the girls to have a chance to compete at regionals. As for boys golf, the welcoming of a new coach to the program highlighted their season as the boys all improved throughout the season.
The track team had a loud season this year, surely highlighted by the girls 4×400 relay team claiming their state title for two consecutive years now. After a rough beginning to the meet, the team, consisting of Lindsey Burns, Danielle Jantzer, Audrey Hazel, and Taylor Cortell, found redemption at state after winning this race. Jantzer was overjoyed with excitement from her team, saying, “It was really important to all of us. We all were just so passionate about it.” Both girls and boys track teams really went the extra mile with their dedication and hard work this season, and it showed at the end of the day. All players who participated in track should be immensely proud of themselves and their teammates on what they were able to accomplish in just one season.
Overall, the sports teams this year worked tremendously hard. All of our athletes should be applauded for pushing themselves to balance athletics and academics. There were many great moments during sports this year, and there will be many more to come in upcoming years as well. All students are encouraged to come out and try any sport next year. While winning is always fun, sports bring many great memories, friendships, and important life skills that can last a lifetime.
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