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Starting over is never easy but that’s exactly what the Camp Verde High School cross country team will be doing this season under third-year Head Coach Mike O’Callaghan.

The Cowboys return only two runners from last year’s 2009 squad and have enough new faces to make anyone’s head spin.

the cowboys cross country team at Camp Verde High School gets a workout Thursday, Aug. 26. The Cowboys lost nearly everyone who ran on varsity in 2009. With the new realignment plan from the Arizona Interscholastic Association beginning this fall, it may be an interesting season for Camp Verde. Head Coach Mike O’Callaghan enters his third year at the helm for Camp Verde.Camp Verde lost six of the seven boys who ran cross country to graduation in 2009.

Four of the top five girls for the Cowboys also left, one of whom moved out of Camp Verde and three whose families decided to home-school them.

According to O’Callaghan, however, he’s excited as ever.

“We’ve got a lot of kids out this season, more so than in the past and it will be fun to watch them all run this season,” O’Callaghan said.

Camp Verde didn’t have a cross country program for the longest time until the Cowboys returned to the trails in 2008.

According to Athletic Director Mark Showers, Camp Verde didn’t have a cross country program when he arrived in 1994. The school tried to start one in 2005, but made it halfway through the season before injuries and too few kids made the powers that be cancel the program.

This season, junior Cassy Alvarez returns after a great run in 2009, no pun intended, qualifying for the 1A-2A conference state championship meet last November.

Alvarez finished 47th overall as a sophomore with a 24:32.01 time. Alvarez is the only girl with state experience returning from last season.

Junior Karry Gillman didn’t participate in cross country last year but could be considered a returner since she qualified for the state meet as a freshman in 2008 for the Cowboys.

The other half of the returning class from 2009 belongs to boys team senior Johnny Hudson.

Hudson finished 110th overall as a junior with a 23:23.03 time in the state championship meet and is the only returning boy who ran at state last season.

Hudson was a part of the Camp Verde team that finished 12th overall at state last season with 317 total points scored as a team.

Hopi High School nailed another state championship banner to its gymnasium wall in 2009 with 27 points. It is estimated that in the last 20 years, Hopi has won anywhere from 14 to 17 state championships in cross country.

If Gillman can be considered a returner then senior A.J. Gonzalez should be as well. Gonzalez took a break in 2009, but raced with the cross country team in 2008 as a sophomore.

Top newcomers for the girls this season include juniors Wynonna Buysse and Tiffanie Oium while sophomore
Sarah Westervelt is running as well.

Freshmen Laura Montano, Jina Stevens and Amber Yocum are also on the list of top newcomers this season for O’Callaghan.

For the boys, top newcomers include seniors Mariano Trinidad and Dakota Yazzi along with junior Brian Hudson, sophomore Cody Valencia and freshmen Joey Benson, Cody Cullen and Ryan Malloy.

“We’ve got a lot of good meets to go to this season and I think we can have a few kids on both the boys and girls teams to qualify for state,” O’Callaghan said.

The Cowboys begin their season Wednesday, Sept. 8, when they travel to participate in the Payson Invitational.

Camp Verde will also participate in the bigger meets like the Four Corners Invitational at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff on Saturday, Sept. 18, and, of course, the big Mingus Mountain Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 2.

The state meet is scheduled Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix.

The defending 4A-II conference state champions in the Mingus Union High School boys cross country team are primed and ready to make another run for a title in 2010.

Runners on the Mingus Union High School cross country team jog down trails next to the Verde River behind Riverfront Park on Tuesday, Aug. 31 followed by the girls’ team coach, Lisa Rauch, on her bicycle. Boys’ team coach Jim Bostwick rides behind the faster runners.Having lost only one runner in Wilson Cutbirth to graduation in 2009, the 2010 version of Marauders cross country is sure to be fantastic.

“We’ve got a good group of boys back this season. We’re excited to get the year going,” Mingus Head Coach Jim Bostwick said.

The Marauders will depend on a core group of runners this season that should earn them the top spot come November.

Returning in 2010 for Mingus are seniors Hunter Rauch and Austin Covey while juniors Colin Garttmeier, Chris Ortiz and Juan Wells return as well. Junior Lane Gehl is also included in the mix.

Wells finished sixth overall as a sophomore with a 16:40.71 time at state last season while Covey was 12th overall with a 17:16.52 time.

Rauch and Ortiz also finished in the top 20 while Garttmeier was 25th and Gehl was 36th.

Top newcomers in senior Tanner Johnson and junior Pal Scott should push for a top five spot at Mingus this season, making the Marauders cross country team even more dangerous.

On the girls’ side of the hill, Mingus lost three seniors after their sixth-place finish last November at the state championships.

Leading the group of returners is senior Erin Freriks, who took 46th overall at state last season.

If Freriks is anything like her older brother, watch out for a top finish in her senior season.

Other top returners for the Mingus girls team include juniors Emma Schraner and Alex Henley while sophomore Skyler Storie returns as well.

The only newcomer that should make an impact for Mingus this season on the girls team will be freshman Sienna Gehl.

Mingus is scheduled to begin its season on the road where they travel to the Payson Invitational on Wednesday, Sept. 8.

The Marauders will against host the famed Mingus Mountain Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 2, in Clarkdale.

The Division III Sectional Meet is scheduled to take place Saturday, Oct. 30, while the Division III State Championships are the following weekend beginning Saturday, Nov. 6.

The state championships are held at the Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix.

Having lost 11 seniors to graduation in 2009, the Camp Verde High School football team will be depending on many newcomers in 2010 if it is to have a successful season.

Head Coach Luke Steege gives instructions to his team during pregame warm-ups in Payson on Friday, Aug. 20. Steege believes his Camp Verde High School football team could be 7-3 this season.The Cowboys return only five starters to the offense that put up record numbers through the first four games last season and return only four on defense.

Through the first month of the season in 2009, the Cowboys were 4-0 and well on their way to a possible final four appearance in the 2A conference state playoffs but one injury derailed Camp Verde, and they finished 2-5 the rest of the way.

Quarterback Mike Boler, who injured his shoulder after leading his team to a perfect 4-0 start, missed the rest of the season and the Cowboys were never the same.

Camp Verde finished 6-5 after losing to No. 6 Scottsdale Christian Academy in the first round of the state playoffs, 31-14.

Boler was among the 11 graduated seniors in 2009, so this season, the Cowboys will be looking to replace him at quarterback.

During the Payson High School scrimmage Friday, Aug. 20, Camp Verde Head Coach Luke Steege got a look at two quarterbacks vying for the starting nod in junior Jake Spleiss and sophomore Kyle Lobaugh.

Junior Deshon Tripp is also a part of the discussion at the quarterback position this season, but didn’t play much Friday due to injury.

The Cowboys hung tough with the Longhorns who are expected to finish in the top four in the 3A East region.

Spleiss received most of the playing time in 2009 after Boler got hurt, but don’t be surprised if Tripp gets a hard look come Friday, Aug. 27, when Camp Verde opens the season on the road against rival Chino Valley High School.

If Steege can help it, he said he would like to keep mostly juniors and seniors on the varsity squad, giving younger players wearing the freshman or sophomore tag experience at junior varsity.

Quarterback Jake Spleiss warms up before the Payson High School scrimmage game Friday, Aug. 20.If Steege’s wishes come true, that may rule out Lobaugh under center at quarterback this season at the varsity level, even though he has the biggest arm of the trio and seems most comfortable at the position.

Moving away from the Brett Favre-like drama at quarterback, the Cowboys have plenty of returners looking to do well in 2010.

Senior running back Tanner Rezzonico was named on the preseason watch list in The Arizona Republic last week while senior Austin Bower hopes to have a good year at cornerback.

Senior Cameron Stewart should anchor the offensive line this season while junior David Stanley plays offensive and defensive line this season.

Steege believes the strength of this particular Cowboys team will be the defense.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys out there who can’t wait to hit someone. I like what I saw at Payson over the weekend and I think if we can play good defense, we’ll be in games this season,” Steege said.

Steege is predicting a 7-3 season for the Cowboys this year with the talent they have but could be 8-2 or 6-4 depending on how things go.

One thing is for sure, the Cowboys are loaded with juniors this season, sporting 17 total in the program.

Cameron Stewart comes up from a three-point stance during pregame warm-ups in Payson. Stewart will anchor the  offensive line this season.Newcomers include juniors Cody Rayburn, Tyler Ward, Andy Minner, Josh Collins, Joe Wilson, Gavin Collins and Chandler Main.

Junior Chris Zellner is also in that group but with the head injury he suffered in the spring after getting hit in the head with a shot put during track and field season, the doctors have yet to clear him for football.

“He has an MRI coming soon and we’ll know within the next week or two if he’s going to be able to play,” Steege said.

Another player Steege said to keep an eye on is Rayburn, who grew five inches and gained 30 pounds over the summer.

No longer a skinny center fielder for the baseball team that made it to the 2A conference state finals in the spring, Rayburn, should be a playmaker this season for the Cowboys football team.

The Cowboys will look to run the spread offense this season since they’re light up front between the tackles, but don’t be surprised if the old Jet Sweep comes into play now and again in 2010.

After the season opener against Chino Valley, the Cowboys will return home and host Canyon State Academy on Friday, Sept. 3.

The Mingus Union High School football team may have the highest expectations they’ve ever had coming into this season.

Although Mingus football players and their coaching staff strive to play for a state championship every year, they usually don’t have the returning horses they have this season for a run at the title.

Quarterback Nick Alred looks for a receiver downfield in the annual red-white scrimmage game Friday, Aug. 20. Mingus travels to Alhambra High School on Friday, Aug. 27, for a scrimmage game.“We’ve got all our skill players back and we had a great year last year. The boys worked hard in the weight room in the off-season and they are ready to get things going,” longtime Mingus Head Coach Bob Young said.

In 2009, the Marauders rattled off 12 straight wins to play themselves into the 4A-II conference state semifinals before losing to Santa Rita High School, 24-14.

Finishing the season two wins shy of a state championship and 12-1 overall in 2009 would certainly motivate most athletes and Mingus is no different.

Now in 2010, the Marauders are flying under the radar again within their conference, at least in some of the media’s eyes.

What’s new? If the team doesn’t come from Phoenix or its surrounding areas, it’s tough to get recognition.

The Marauders will surely challenge for a state championship in 2010 and as previously mentioned, most of their biggest horses are back.

Mingus returns six starters on offense and seven on defense this fall and will be led by senior returning quarterback Nick Alred.

Alred was fantastic in 2009, recording over 160 yards per game last season on offense.

Other top returners for Mingus include seniors Juan Gonzalez who is sure to get All-State votes come December while Matt Chavez, Carson Sandoval, Kevin Webb, Eric Cassada, Cruz Chavez, Ronald Morones, Tyler Christensen and Fernando Anquiano all return.

Chavez is one of the best linebackers in the game while Sandoval is solid at running back and Cassada has a great pair of hands at receiver.

Perhaps the only question hanging over the heads of Mingus coaches and their program is the offensive line.

“We’re not very deep, maybe six or seven guys, so hopefully they can stay strong and keep from getting injured,” Young said.

Depth may be a concern at offensive line for Mingus, but knowing the Marauders, things usually work out.
“We’re not very big up front, but they are strong and athletic,” Young added.

Mingus is scheduled to open the season on the road Friday, Aug. 27, when the Marauders travel to Alhambra High School for a scrimmage game.

Mingus will officially begin its season Friday, Sept. 3, when the team travels to Prescott High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Marauders are scheduled to host Payson High School on Friday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. in their first home game of the season.

If the new football field isn’t complete, however, the contingency plan is to play the game at Sedona Red Rock High School according to Mingus Athletic Director Mike Boysen.

The Marauders are also scheduled to host Bradshaw Mountain High School on Friday, Sept. 17. Where the game will be played if the field isn’t done by that date has yet to be announced.

When Mingus Union High School Athletic Director Mike Boysen came to town in 1993 he was hired to be the school’s athletic trainer and was required to teach a few classes.

Who knew 17 years later Boysen would be one of the more recognizable athletic directors in the state?

Athletic Director Mike Boysen was hired in 1993 to teach and be the athletic trainer at Mingus Union High School. During the 1999-2000 school year, Boysen was hired to be athletic director, a position he has held ever since.Last year, Boysen received the 4A conference athletic director of the year award, which is handed out once a year by the Arizona Interscholastic Athletics Administrators Association.

At the moment, Boysen leads the way for a Mingus athletics program that is successful at almost every turn, from football to cross country to tennis to baseball.

Boysen is also the head athletic trainer and runs the program with a classroom of kids eager to learn the trade.
Originally from Austin, Minn., Boysen graduated from Canon City High School in Canon City, Colo., in 1983.

From there Boysen attended the University of Northern Colorado and graduated with a degree in athletic training in 1989.

Immediately after college, Boysen was hired by the NFL’s Denver Broncos to an internship position which he held for one year before spending three years at a physical therapy clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo.

During his time at the clinic, Boysen spent his afternoons working at Sierra High School with their athletes and soon after was hired at Mingus.

Boysen didn’t become an athletic director until the 1999-2000 school year, and has held the position ever since.

“My favorite thing about being an athletic director is the little things that most people don’t see from the outside. Sometimes the success of a certain team can depend on it and that’s what makes the job worth it,” Boysen said.

The 45-year-old Minnesota native believes his relationships with other athletic directors around the Verde Valley have helped his cause as well.

Boysen confessed one of his biggest role models in the profession lives only 15 miles away, Camp Verde High School Athletic Director Mark Showers.

“I don’t think he knows this but I’ve always admired and respected Mark [Showers]. I use him as a role model for myself and how to run a good athletics program. We have a very good relationship. He’s a great person as well, which is the most important thing of all,” Boysen said.

During his 17-year tenure at Mingus, Boysen has seen a lot of athletes come through the halls for the Marauders, but nothing has been more exciting to him than when his own two kids have made it onto the field.

Josh, Boysen’s 20-year-old son, was a Mingus football and tennis player who currently serves in the U.S. Air Force.

Boysen’s 15-year-old daughter Kalina is currently enrolled at Mingus, and plays volleyball and softball for the Marauders.

“It’s been neat to see my own kids come through the program and getting to watch them has been a thrill,” Boysen said.

Despite recent troubles with the athletic program at Mingus, Boysen continues to show excellence in his work on and off the field and one day, there may be more than one AIAAA awards sitting on his mantel.

With all the glory, prestige and credit that comes with the athletic programs at high schools, there’s always one man behind the curtain making sure everything goes smoothly.

One might call the athletic director position at any high school a thankless job, and for that, it’s time to recognize our silent leaders.

Mark Showers took the job as athletic director of Camp Verde High School in 1996. Showers won the Arizona Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Award of Merit in 2008. Showers is also the dean of students at CVHS and girls head basketball coach.For 47-year-old Camp Verde High School Athletic Director Mark Showers, his tenure in Camp Verde as athletic director began in 1996.

A 1981 graduate of CVHS, Showers attended what was then called Grand Canyon College, and received his degree with a double major in physical education and psychology.

A four-year letter winner in basketball and baseball at CVHS, Showers played junior varsity baseball at Grand Canyon and two years of varsity basketball during his junior and senior year before graduating in 1985.

“I love sports. It’s funny because my parents were into the arts, music and drama, but I spent more time in athletics,” Showers said laughing.

Showers returned to the small town he grew up in looking to not only be athletic director, but wear the dean of students and girls basketball coach hats as well.

“I’ve wanted to coach basketball since I was 11 or 12. I enjoy working with the kids and having a positive effect on their lives. We all like to win, but the preparation to do so can teach valuable life lessons to young people,” Showers said.

In 2008, Showers was recognized by the Arizona Interscholastic Athletic Administrator Association, receiving the state Award of Merit for a job well done as athletic director.

Only one person receives this award every year out of all high schools in Arizona.

The award was no surprise to those around the Verde Valley who work with Showers on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Verde Valley School Athletic Director Matt Moran has an interesting take on the man from Camp Verde.

“Mark [Showers] has helped me out a lot. He’s really been there for me and he brought me along when I was beginning this gig as athletic director,” Moran said.

Of course, Mike Boysen, athletic director at Mingus Union High School, and John Parks, the athletic director at Sedona Red Rock High School, also feel the same way.

As for Showers, he appreciates the relationships he’s built within the athletic director field, stating Parks has been most helpful to him. The two men have been in the same region together for many years in the 3A-West.

CVHS and SRRHS are similar in size as well, making it an easy athletic contest for both schools to play against one another.

“I’ve received help from all of these athletic directors around the Verde Valley. It’s been quite a relationship we’ve all built with one another,” Showers said.

When it’s all said and done, Showers will probably have a few more AIAAA awards sitting on his mantel, but the lives he’s touched will always outweigh any award he receives.

Sam Maynard delivers a pitch during a team practice.At the Reach 11 Sports Complex in Paradise Valley last week, the Camp Verde All-Stars [ages 10 to 11] struggled, losing two games in two days and were bounced from the Arizona Little League State Championships.

“We’re playing against teams that are club teams. Teams that play year-round. I’m proud of our boys for what they’ve accomplished and that we got here to begin with,” Camp Verde coach Nathan Jackson said.

On July 19, Camp Verde did what it could but was overpowered by a much stronger Chandler National South All-Star team and lost, 15-4.

The next day, the Camp Verde All-Stars squared off against the Deer Valley All-Stars knowing full well if they lost, they were done.

Starting pitcher Beau Bullard toed the mound July 20 for his Camp Verde All-Stars looking to shut down the Deer Valley bats but got himself into trouble in the bottom of the first inning, giving up five runs.

Up 5-0, Deer Valley was able to keep a lid on Camp Verde’s offense for five innings, Wyatt Howe looks to throw in a pitch from the outfield. The Camp Verde All-Stars [ages 10 to 11] went 0-2 at the Arizona Little League State Championships on July 19 and 20.taking an 8-0 lead after scoring two in the bottom of the fifth.

Camp Verde scored four runs in the top half of the sixth to cut the lead, 8-4.

Unfortunately for Camp Verde, the run ended there and after the last out was recorded, Camp Verde knew it was over.

“It was a great season. Each of our coaches and parents saw how much these kids improved from the beginning of the season to now. Again, like I said, I was really proud of them,” Jackson said.

Bullard went 3? innings pitched, giving up six runs on seven hits and four walks while striking out one.

Relief pitcher Ryan Cain was a bit better, pitching 1? innings while giving up three runs on three hits and striking out three.

At the plate for Camp Verde, second baseman Wyatt Howe had a big base hit to score two runs during the sixth inning rally and was 1-3 on the day.

Left fielder Patrick Hood was 0-1 with two walks while first baseman Ezequiel Casillas was 1-3 with a run scored.

beau bullard gets a few practice throws in a few days before the Camp Verde All-Stars [ages 10 to 11] traveled to Paradise Valley to participate in the Arizona Little League State Championships. Bullard gave up six runs and four walks in his start against the Deer Valley, 8-4.“They didn’t come out of this tournament with their heads down. They proved themselves this year on and off the field and we’re all excited for what is to come in 2011,” Jackson said.

The hot, windy and humid climate in Yuma made things worse for the Verde Valley Minors All-Stars [ages 9 to 10] last week as they managed to win only one game and were eliminated from the Arizona Little League All-Stars State Tournament.

First baseman Josh Scalf reaches for a throw to get an out in a game July 6. Scalf recorded a base hit in the top of the fifth inning Thursday, July 22, in a 5-2 loss to the Lake Havasu All-Stars.Pete Kelly, the head coach of the District 10 Verde Valley champions, said this tournament was a great experience for the boys.

“We were so proud of the boys after we finished; it was a good experience. Each of the games we played were close, so it was great,” Kelly said.

Verde Valley went 1-2 in three games last week, with opposing teams only outscoring the boys from Cottonwood, 18-15.

On July 20, Verde Valley played its first game at Yuma Catholic High School and lost a close one to the Rio Vista All-Stars, 7-6.

Verde Valley led 6-0 going into the fourth inning, making it a hard loss to swallow, according to Kelly.

The next day, Verde Valley played the Ahwatukee All-Stars on July 21, but this time, the boys in black and red wouldn’t go down without a fight and scratched a late victory, 7-6.

Tied 6-6 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Tyre Kim walked before Chris Mathe singled to put runners on first and second, with two outs.

jose pacheco rounds third after hitting a two-run homer in a game July 6. Pacheco and his Verde Valley Minors All-Stars [ages 9 to 10] team managed to get only one win at the Arizona Little League All-Stars State Championships in Yuma last week, defeating Ahwatukee.Up next to the plate was young stud Tyler Kelly who worked the count before promptly doubling to the gap, sending Kim sprinting home with everything he had to cross the plate and give Verde Valley the victory, 7-6.
“It’s pretty cool to watch that happen; it was a great hit and gave us the win,” Kelly said.

With two games down and one to go, Verde Valley needed just one more win to advance to the final four and give itself a chance to win a state championship.

Unfortunately for Verde Valley, the Lake Havasu All-Stars stood in the way.

Starting pitcher Bryce Cramer toed the mound for Verde Valley but wound up throwing only 20 pitches in one-third of an inning and walking three batters before being pulled by Kelly.

“We had some pitching practice earlier in the day and I thought Bryce [Cramer] was ready to go, but he was a bit wild and I decided to pull him right away for a more experienced pitcher. In the end, I figured if we could win this game Bryce would pitch the next day but it just didn’t happen that way,” Kelly said.

Relief pitcher Chaz Taylor was called upon and wound up doing a bang-up job, pitching 4? innings, allowing four runs on five hits while walking five and striking out four.

Taylor kept Verde Valley in the game for most of the night Thursday, July 22, but the offense couldn’t figure out Lake Havasu’s pitcher and managed only three hits.

“They had a really good pitcher. Even the hits we did have were little bloops or choppers. He kept us off the solid part of the bat all night,” Kelly said.

Down 1-0 in the top of the second inning, Verde Valley tied the score 1-1 after Cramer reached after being hit by a pitch.

Cramer stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball, then eventually scored on another passed ball.
In the top of the fifth inning down 5-1, Verde Valley scored its second run of the night after Tyler Kelly tripled and Josh Scalf singled to record the only RBI of the night.

“I thought we played three pretty good games. Each of the teams we played are basically club teams who play year-round so to play with them like we did is pretty amazing,” Kelly said.

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