Before I dive into covering the spring sports here in the Verde Valley, I thought it would be prudent to congratulate all the high school teams that did well this winter.
For my “team of the year” vote, I would have to choose the Mingus Union High School girls soccer team.
From beginning to end the Marauders were the best soccer team at the 4A-II conference level, and maybe even better than that.
Their 20-2 record and 1-0 state championship victory over rival Flagstaff High School a few weeks ago will always be something to remember for Buddy Rhodes and his entire program, as well as myself, who had the privilege of standing on the sidelines and watching the girls jump for joy as the final horn sounded.
I think it’s important to announce a runner-up “team of the year” as well, and my vote would go to the Mingus wrestling program, finishing second behind the girls soccer team only because of the individual nature of the sport.
Just shy of two weeks ago the Marauders claimed their unprecedented fifth straight
4A-II team state championship after claiming the individual state championship just one week before.
With Head Coach Tom Wokasch at the helm, there’s no sign of this program slowing down anytime soon.
For my “surprise” team of the season we’ll stick with the sport that doesn’t require hands and give it to the Sedona Red Rock High School girls soccer team, finishing 13-6 and 8-0 in the 1A-3A North, claiming a region title.
Sedona made it to the 1A-3A conference final four, only to lose to eventual state champion Estrella Foothills High School, 2-0.
Head Coach Tom Cadigan and his troops had a special year and an unexpected year at that.
As for a special mention in the “surprise” category, I would have to recognize Mark Showers and his Camp Verde High School girls basketball team.
Led by three starting freshmen and a sophomore in the middle, the Cowboys were not expected to do much this season but finished the year 18-10 and qualified for the 2A conference state playoffs as the No. 10 seed.
Camp Verde lost in the first round to St. John’s High School, but in the end, it was a big step forward for the Cowboys.
Now that we’re done with the team awards, I can focus more on the individual efforts.
Receiving my “coach of the year” award, I would have to nominate Showers from the Camp Verde girls basketball program who took a team full of young talent and turned them into a state playoff qualifier.
Showers, and I, expected the young Cowboys to struggle a bit this season but what they did was far from it.
If the cards fall the way Showers hopes in the future, the Cowboys could be playing for a state championship in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.
My “athlete of the year” award would have to go to Mingus senior Luke Goettl and his 140-pound dominance on the mat in 2009-2010.
Goettl finished his illustrious career with four straight individual state championships, a rarity in Arizona wrestling. Goettl won at 112 pounds, 130 pounds, 135 pounds and 140 pounds.
Goettl signed a letter of intent to wrestle for Iowa State University just a few months ago.
Congratulations to all the coaches and athletes for another great winter season.