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The Mingus Union High School boys soccer team missed the state playoffs last winter, but Head Coach Cade Densmore is determined to bring the Marauders back to the postseason.

Austin Strobel moves the ball downfield during Mingus Union High School’s scrimmage with North Canyon High School on  Nov. 16. Head Coach Cade Densmore expects big things out of his Marauders this season.“I’ve got a whole lot of guys this year and they are ready to roll,” Densmore said.

Mingus will have to do so in the newly minted Division III after the Arizona Interscholastic As-sociation realigned its schools in 2010, with team sports feeling the effects during the 2011-2012 school year.

The Marauders finished the 2010-2011 season with a 7-9 overall record, and were 6-6 in AIA power point matches. The 6-6 mark wasn’t good enough, however, to qualify for the state playoffs, leaving Mingus players without a postseason.

Top returners for the Marauders this season include senior captains Austin Strobel and Alex Contreras, who have been through it all for Mingus.

“This season is the one we’ve been waiting for. There’s a core group of seniors who have played together for years and we are finally at the point we’ve been working toward. All the guys have a want to win and are working hard to achieve our goal of setting Mingus boys soccer records,” Strobel said.

Strobel will start for the Marauders this winter for the fourth consecutive year, while Contreras should be a starter for the third year.

“I have great expectations for this season, but what I expect is only words. My words need to be put into action. Once the team and myself accomplish these actions we have the skill and ability to win each and every game we play,” Contreras said.

Other top returners include senior Williams Dominguez, a three-year starter, while seniors Andrew Hickey, Jorge Padilla and juniors Gilbert Quidera and Alan Castillo also return.

Quidera was the starting goalkeeper for Mingus last season, but is being challenged by two senior newcomers Johnny Lara and Anas Jibrin.

“I’m not sure how exactly it’s going to play out yet, but we’ll see what happens. All three are good, and whoever gets in there should do a good job for us,” Densmore said.

The Marauders will be without the services of three-year starting senior Jonathon Witt this season, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament last week and is done for the year.

As for the remaining top newcomers, sophomores Palon Walz, Omar Carrillo and Brennan Kitchen are out. Kitchen broke his hand in football this fall, but should recover in time to play most of the season.

Densmore couldn’t stop talking about Ruben Contreras and Elias Pandeca, a pair of young freshmen who made the varsity squad this season.

“Ruben [Contreras] could be one of the best overall players to ever come through Mingus if he continues to improve,” Densmore said.

Sophomore Christian Escobar made the team as well. Escobar, Contreras and Pandeca are all expected to get major playing time this season, according to Densmore.

The Marauders open the 2011-2012 campaign at home Tuesday, Nov. 29, when Bradshaw Mountain High School comes to town. Official start time is set for 5 p.m.

Other notable home matches for Mingus include Sedona Red Rock High School on Thursday, Dec. 15, and Prescott High School on Thursday, Jan. 12.

The past seven seasons for the Mingus Union High School boys basketball program have been difficult to bear for its fans, and its players, but brighter times are ahead.

Clancy Odegard, a junior on the team, takes a shot during practice Tuesday, Nov. 15.Over the summer, Mingus Athletic Director Mike Boysen searched high and low for a new basketball coach, a guy that was willing to literally pull the Marauders basketball program off the ground and bring it back to respectability.

He found 30-year-old Mark Owens, an administrative assistant for the Drake University men’s basketball program, who agreed to become Mingus’ new history teacher and its new basketball coach in August.

“The group I’ve inherited in general doesn’t have a lot of firepower from last year. Right now, we’re looking to create a basketball identity and hopefully the boys will enjoy taking pride in the process,” Owens said.

Owens, who is originally from Elmira, Calif., taught and coached basketball at Tempe High School straight out of college in 2003.

As fate would have it, the last time Mingus made the state playoffs was 10 years ago during the 2001-2002 season. Mingus lost to Tempe in the first round of the 4A conference state tournament, 68-66.

Since that fateful day in February 2002, however, Mingus basketball flew south for the winter and hasn’t returned.

Beginning from the start of the 2004-2005 campaign, the Marauders have a 59-118 overall record. One of the worst seasons came last year when Mingus finished 3-21 overall, leading to the resignation of Head Coach Scott Sanderlin after three years on the job.

Sanderlin was 19-55 overall during his time with Mingus, while Craig Mai, the head coach before Sanderlin, was 40-63 in his four seasons at the helm. Mai resigned after the 2007-2008 season, leading Mingus to hire Sanderlin.

Mingus graduated seven seniors in May including top players like Erick Quesada, Carlos Sandoval, Daniel Martinez and Jose Gonzalez.

Top returners for the Marauders this season include seniors Luke Sanders, Evan McFarland and Sergio Romero along with juniors Clancy Odegard, Sam Johnson and Tyler Herndon.

Mingus opens its 2011-2012 regular season schedule on the road this year, taking a trip south to Wickenburg High School on Tuesday, Nov. 29.

The Marauders are scheduled to participate in the inaugural Red Rock Hoops Classic, set to begin Thursday, Dec. 1. The tournament is hosted by rival Sedona Red Rock High School.

Mingus will return home Tuesday, Dec. 6, to host Payson High School. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Marauders have eight home games this season including rival Flagstaff High School on Tuesday, Dec. 20.

Other notable home games include Camp Verde High School on Thursday, Jan. 19, and against Sedona on Thursday, Feb. 2. More than likely, the game against the Scorpions will be Mingus’ senior night.

The second annual Halloween Skate Competition at Riverfront Park in Cottonwood on Saturday, Oct. 29, was big enough to hold several skateboard enthusiasts who had come from different parts of Arizona.

Cottonwood skater Travis Crow, 16, executes tricks during the second annual Halloween Skate Competition at the Cottonwood skate park Saturday, Oct. 29.Wearing a clown suit and carrying a megaphone, event coordinator Helena Elder-Hamilton was thrilled to see everyone out for this second annual event.

Several other skateboarders dressed in costumes and face paint looking to win top prize for best dressed. Even the older kids had the Halloween spirit in them before competing.

Elder-Hamilton, owner of a local skateboard retailer in Cottonwood, constantly barked directions to the young skate hopefuls, but seemed to enjoy the competition just as much as the kids.

Jacob Phelps, an 18-year-old Camp Verde High School student, was on hand in the ages 16 to 18 division and was happy with his performance Saturday.

“I’ve been skating for nine years now and I’ve been to eight competitions like this. I think I did pretty good,” Phelps said.

When asked what his favorite skateboard trick is, Phelps took a minute to think but eventually had a great answer.

“You know what, any trick I can pull off is a good one,” Phelps said with a smile.

Elder-Hamilton set up the competition to help raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and Xtreme Union, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building extreme sports complexes like the one at Riverfront Park.

Morgan Julian, a 17-year-old Cottonwood resident, was glad to be on hand for the competition since it was the first one he’s ever done.

“I started skating about six years ago, but this is my first-ever competition. So far, I haven’t done as good as I can today, but hopefully, I’ll get better,” Julian said.

Julian isn’t looking to go to the next level with his skateboarding, but prefers to do it over most other things.

“It’s really more of just a hobby for me,” Julian said.

Fight fans were out in full force Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Stampede Showdown 2 in Camp Verde at a local car dealership looking to watch their favorite boxer or muay Thai fighter get a win.

Anthony Rojas, right, gets his hand raised Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Stampede Showdown 2 as he was declared the winner over James Currin-Hubbard of Wolf Pack Gym. Rojas fights out of the Golden Cobra Fitness Center in Cottonwood.“Look at how many people are here; there’s over 300 chairs and they are full and there’s another 50 to 70 people standing outside watching,” Golden Cobra Center of Fitness owner Richard Williams said.

The Golden Cobra Center of Fitness had several fighters going for the win Saturday, including Shawn Rojas at 170 pounds and brother Anthony Rojas at 189 pounds.

Shawn Rojas, who is 19 years old, lost his boxing match to Nick Andrano of Impact Center in Flagstaff by judges’ decision.

Anthony Rojas, the older of the two brothers at 22, was able to get a victory in the first fight of his career, defeating James Currin-Hubbard from Wolf Pack Gym in Indio, Calif.

“This felt awesome,” Anthony Rojas said while his crew unwrapped the tape from his hands. “I put my heart into it, and this is why I love the sport. I started training a few months ago and I’m happy to win my first fight.”

Other top fights from the Verde Valley included 14-year-old Saxon Vaughan, representing Golden Cobra out of Cottonwood. Vaughan, at 110 pounds, defeated Rosario Real from Hard Knocks Gym in Phoenix by judges’ decision.

At first, the fight was ruled a split decision, but after a recount, Vaughan was declared the winner.

In the main event Saturday, 29-year-old Cecil Tudor was able to win the light heavyweight U.S. Muay Thai title from Fank Bamford.

Tudor is from Glendale but is a part of the Golden Cobra clan, according to Williams.

“It was an awesome fight and the fans loved it. Cecil [Tudor] works out down in Glendale at the Blue Collar Gym, but he’s a part of us too,” Williams said.

The only disappointing match of the night for fans was the fourth bout, because there was no fight. Golden Cobra muay Thai fighter Mike Newhall, a 19-year-old Cottonwood resident, was unable to fight Saturday for reasons not released to the press.

Newhall was scheduled to fight Mike Brown of Champs Gym in Phoenix. Brown was declared the winner by default.

Despite heavy rains the night before and the Cave Creek Golf Course path needing to be redone, the Division III State Championships eventually got under way Saturday, Nov. 5, with the Marauders finishing well.

Juan Wells, left, Colin Garttmeier, middle, and Skyler Storie were the top finishers for the Mingus Union High School cross-country team Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Division III State Championships in Phoenix.For the Mingus Union High School boys cross-country team, the Marauders finished fifth overall as a team, scoring 140 points.

Chinle High School won the state title with 71 points while Rio Rico High School took second with 86 and Tuba City High School was third with 95.

Missing one of its top runners, the Mingus girls finished seventh overall with 162 points. Senior Emma Schraner did not participate Saturday due to a foot injury she sustained two weeks ago.

“She tried to go, but after that injury she got to her foot two weeks ago on a rocky course, her foot just wouldn’t allow her to go,” longtime Mingus Head Coach Jim Bostwick said.

The Chinle girls won the state title with 74 points while Page High School wasn’t far behind in second place with 77. Saguaro High School wrapped up the top three with 99 points.

Individually for the boys, senior Juan Wells was the best overall finisher for the Marauders, taking third overall with a 16:03.10 time.

Junior Jake Wynn of Saguaro won the individual state title with a 15:39.59 time.

Senior Colin Garttmeier finished eighth overall with a 16:21.64 time while sophomore Gustavo Banks was 22nd overall with a 17:03.14 time.

For the girls, senior Skylar Storie finished 10th overall with a 20:11.95 time while sophomore Justine Taylor was 36th overall with a 21:26.40 time.

Senior Taylor Jochim was 40th overall with a 21:33.69 time and senior Alex Henley was 41st overall with a 21:38.28 time.

“The girls were shorthanded so we ran with six girls. It’s not often a coach says that they all ran well, but when it does happen it usually results in a great team effort,” Bostwick said.

Knowing full well they had no chance for a state berth, the Marauders still played well until the end, finishing third overall at the second annual John Uidenich Memorial Invitational on Friday, Oct. 21.

Gary Baker hits onto the green during a Mingus Union High School golf tournament in Cornville on Thursday, Oct. 20. Mingus wrapped up its season Friday, Oct. 21, while hosting the John Uidenich Memorial Invitational.In the last high school match of his career, senior J.C. Lawler finished on a high note, taking first overall individually with an even par 71 performance Friday at Verde Santa Fe Golf Course.

“That’s pretty cool. He won the last high school tournament of his career,” Mingus Union High School golf Head Coach Craig Mai said.

Bradshaw Mountain High School product Tyler Inglehart finished second overall with a 75 [+4] while Drew Fockler of Coconino High School tied him for second with a 75.

Blair Walsh, of Prescott High School, took fourth with a 5-over-par 76, but his Badgers took home the team prize with a 323 [+39], good enough for first overall.

Nik Hubbard, of Flagstaff High School, rounded out the top five with a 6-over-par 77 performance.

Behind the Badgers for top team scores was Flagstaff, which had a 323 [+39] to tie for first place. The Eagles got second because Josh Lovett, who is the fifth golfer for Flagstaff, recorded an 86 [+15] during the 18-hole event while Prescott’s Drake Parker shot an 85.

Top performances for Mingus behind Lawler included sophomore Ryan Sullivan, who shot an 85 [+14], while sophomore Gary Baker struggled with a 15-over-par 86. Junior Tanner Wing wrapped up the top four for the Marauders with an 86 [+15].

“Gary [Baker] didn’t have his usual round,” a disappointed Mai said. “It was probably his worst of the year. If he even plays his average we probably win the tournament.”

Sophomore Baker has bright days ahead of him according to Mai, but the coach hopes the Arizona Interscholastic Association does something about the qualifying standards soon.

“It’s a ridiculous standard. You basically have to be a scratch golfer to qualify for state. This is high school. It’s too much pressure,” Mai said.

Golfers must record five scores two strokes or under the course rating that they play at to qualify for the Division II State Championships.

“Even junior colleges have standards that aren’t that difficult,” Mai said.

The Mingus Union High School golf team had one of its best outings of the season Thursday, Oct. 6, finishing first overall out of four teams at the Prescott Country Club.

sophomore Gary Baker finishes a hole well and garners praise from other teams’ coaches during a home golf tournament on Oct. 4. On Thursday, Oct. 6, Baker was the top performer for the Mingus Union High School golf team, recording a 4-over-par 40 at the Prescott Country Club.Playing the front nine, Mingus shot a 165 [+21] to beat out rival Bradshaw Mountain High School, which shot a 172 [+28].

Prescott High School came in third with a 174 [+30] and Mohave High School wrapped up the top four with a 209 [+65] stroke score.

“J.C. [Lawler] and Gary [Baker] were not at their best, but the other three picked it up. The whole team contributed and played well. It’s the best performance we’ve had as a team this season,” Mingus Head Coach Craig Mai said.

Sophomore Gary Baker led the way with a 4-over-par 40 performance, missing the state cut by three strokes. Baker lead the Marauders with two qualifying rounds in 2011. He must earn a qualifying score in three of the final four meets for Mingus if he wants to go to the Division II State Championships.

Sophomore Ryan Sullivan had one of his best performances of the season, matching Baker with a 4-over-par performance on the front nine.

Junior Tanner Wing shot a 42 [+6] while senior J.C. Lawler had a 43 [+7] to total Mingus’ 165 on the day. Lawler must shoot a qualifying score in all four remaining matches for the Marauders if he is to go to state.

Next up, Mingus will play in Munds Park on Thursday, Oct. 13, in an effort to tune up for the Mountain Ridge Invitational in Flagstaff at the Continental Country Club this coming weekend.

The Mountain Ridge Invitational begins Friday, Oct. 14, and goes through Saturday, Oct. 15. Tee times for both days are set for 9 a.m.

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