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CROSS COUNTRY: Teams earn fourth place at conference competition

CROSS COUNTRY: Teams earn fourth place at conference competition


The Pima Community College men’s and women’s cross country teams each finished fourth at the ACCAC cross country championships on Sept. 23 at Villago Park in Casa Grande.

In the men’s competition, sophomore David Fernandez accomplished the best finish for the Aztecs in the 8K race, placing seventh out of 48 runners with a time of 26:34.2. Fernandez’s effort earned him first team All-ACCAC honors.

Sophomore Armando Antonio Jr. earned second-team All-ACCAC honors with a 15th place finish and a time of 27:47.1.

Freshman Alonso Sodari earned All-ACCAC honorable mention with a 17th place finish and time of 27:59.0. Sophomore Nick Hald finished in 27th place.

The Aztec men had a team score of 89 points.

On the women’s side, sophomore Samantha Felzien was Pima’s top runner. She finished in sixth place out of 41 runners with a time of 19:09.9 in the 5K. Her performance earned her first team All-ACCAC.

Freshman Alondra Carrasco finished the race in 25th place with a time of 22:04.1. Fellow freshman Erika Rios finished in 27th with a time of 22:15.6.

The Aztec women had a team score of 109 points.

Both teams have some time off before competing again Oct. 8.

The Pima teams also finished in fourth place overall out of five teams at the Dave Murray Invitational held Sept. 16 at the Randolph North Golf Course in Tucson.

Felzien earned the best finish in the 4K at 30th with a time of 16:19.1. Carrasco finished in 38th with a time of 17:55.3.

Freshman runners Erika Rios, Arianna Roche and Monique Ochoa finished in 41st, 42nd and 44th place.

For the men, Fernandez earned the top finish for the Aztecs at 23rd out of 47 and a time of 20:27.5.

Antonio Jr. finished the race in 30th place with a time 21:19.7.

Sodari and fellow freshman Gerrit Ralston finished in 37th and 38th place respectively. 


Oct. 8: Thunderbird Classic, Mesa CC. Women’s race 7 a.m., men’s race 7:45 a.m.

Oct. 14: Mount SAC CC Invitational, Mount San Antonio CC, Walnut, California. Women’s race 10 a.m., men’s race 10:45 a.m.

MEN'S SOCCER: Aztecs ride eight-game unbeaten streak

MEN’S SOCCER: Aztecs ride eight-game unbeaten streak


 The Pima Community College men’s soccer team is on an eight-game unbeaten streak, with a record of 10-1-1.

Sophomore Hector Banegas leads the team in scoring, while freshmen Julian Gaona and Chris Cooper have provided strong and evolving play that continues to elevate the Aztecs.

Sept. 20: PCC 2, Mesa CC 1

The sixth-ranked Aztecs grabbed their eighth win of the season from Mesa Community College, scraping out a 2-1 road victory.

The Thunderbirds scored first in the 28th minute and Pima went into halftime trailing the hosts 1-0.

Freshman forward Julian Gaona evened the score at 1-1 for Pima in the 60th minute, assisted by freshman midfielder Chris Cooper.

Sophomore forward Hector Banegas continued his scoring ways in the 88th minute, converting a penalty kick that provided Pima with the game-winning goal.

The kick lifted Banegas to a team-high 10 goals in nine games after coming off of a broken ankle injury suffered in 2015.

Sophomore goalkeeper Taylor Anderson posted a season-high six saves.

 Sept. 22: PCC 0, Arizona Western College 0

Neither team was able to score when Pima traveled to No. 12 Arizona Western in Yuma. Goalkeeper Anderson finished the night with four saves for PCC.

The game was the first of the season in which the Aztecs were held scoreless.

Sept. 24: PCC 7, Paradise Valley CC 1

Pima grabbed its ninth win of the season in a 7-1 victory over the Paradise Valley Community College Pumas at Kino North Stadium. Sophomore Carlo Valadez-Paz sparked the Aztecs with three second-half goals.

After a slow Pima start, Gaona scored in the 38th minute off a rebound. Cooper scored in the 41st minute off an assist by Gaona, giving the Aztecs a 2-0 lead at the break.

A minute into the second half, Valadez-Paz found the back of the net after receiving an assist from Cooper.

The Pumas scored in the 53rd minute, cutting Pima’s lead to 3-1.

Valadez-Paz converted from the penalty spot two minutes later, giving him his second goal and Pima’s fourth of the game.

Sophomore midfielder Lorenzo Rodriguez scored in the 58th minute, with Valadez-Paz providing the assist.

Valadez-Paz scored his third goal in the 67th minute, giving him a hat trick. Banegas earned an assist.

Freshman defender Andrew Bianchi completed Pima’s 7-1 victory with a goal in the 70th minute.

Sophomore goalkeeper James McWilliams finished the game with two saves.

Pima swept the regular season home and away series against the Pumas, outscoring Paradise Valley by a 16-1 margin.

Sep 28: PCC 7, South Mountain CC 1

The Aztecs won their 10th game of the season on the road against South Mountain Community College. For the second consecutive game, the Aztecs scored seven goals while conceding one.

Valadez-Paz scored in the first minute of the game, assisted by Rodriguez.

Cooper scored in the 20th and 27th minutes, and Rodriguez rounded out the first-half scoring in the 37th minute off an assist from freshman Tatsuma Yuki.

Banegas struck with goals in the 46th and 56th minute, giving him 12 goals for the year.

Freshman Luis Arias contributed a goal in the 53rd minute.

Sophomore goalkeeper James McWilliams finished with three saves.

VOLLEYBALL: Team finding its stride

VOLLEYBALL: Team finding its stride


The Pima Community College volleyball team is gaining momentum, taking second place at a recent tournament in San Diego, California.

The team also has an injured player. Sophomore Victoria Davis has a stress fracture on her left tibia bone and will be unable to play until she receives medical clearance. 

Sept. 14: PCC 2, Chandler-Gilbert CC 3

Pima clashed with Chandler-Gilbert Community College in a conference match on the road, losing 2-3.

The Aztecs took an early 2-1 lead but ultimately fell in five sets, 25-16, 19-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-11.

Sophomore Aubrey Lomeli led Pima in kills at 16, while freshman setter Hannah Gerard topped the team in assists with 32.

Sept. 16: PCC 3, South Mountain CC 0

The Aztecs pulled of a 3-0 upset when they hosted No. 12 South Mountain Community College.

After falling behind in three straight sets, the Aztecs rallied to win 26-24, 25-22, 25-20.

Head coach Dan Bithell called the victory an exciting win.

“We were finally able to put in all of our efforts in the right direction and have it pay off for us,” he said. “It’s great to get a win at home against a good team.”

Freshman libero Anissa Conrad had a team-high 18 digs for the match.

“I thought we really worked well together and we flowed really well,” Conrad said. “We communicated with each other at all times, which helps. And we stood together, and stood strong for each other.” 

Sept. 21: PCC 0, Arizona Western College 3

In their second home game in a row, the Aztecs battled Arizona Western College and lost in three straight sets, 25-18, 25-19, 25-10.

Pima trailed during each set and never found an opening to get out in front on the scoreboard against the Matadors.

Sophomore Aleksandra Palmer posted 10 kills and Conrad lead the team with 15 digs.

“We’re a really talented team,” Palmer said. “We’ll have a really good practice, have a lot of high intensity. But coming into the game we lose that intensity and sometimes we’ll shut down pretty early.”

Palmer said the team has a long way to go, but will eventually reach its goals.

“I have a lot of confidence in our team’s ability,” she said.

Sept. 23 PCC 3, Southwestern College 2

The team traveled to Chula Vista, California, to battle Southwestern College and won in a five-set match, 24-26, 25-22, 25-18, 14-25, 15-12.

Palmer finished the match with 14 kills and nine digs. Gerard amassed 27 assists, while both Gerard and Conrad served five aces each.

Sept. 24: PCC places second at San Diego Tournament

 The team continued to the San Diego Tournament and received the No. 1 seed after sweeping pool play.

The Aztecs beat Chaffey College in four sets, beat Cuyamaca College in three straight sets and beat host San Diego City College in a five-set tie breaker.

During a re-match against City College in the tournament final, Pima lost the match 25-17.

Palmer and Conrad were selected for the all All-Tournament Team.

PCC 1, Mesa Community College 3

Back at home; the Aztecs went up against No. 17 Mesa Community College and lost in four sets, 25-16, 25-22, 20-25, 25,15.

Palmer finished the match out with 12 kills and 13 digs, while Gerard ended with 19 assists and 17 digs.

Sitting down translates as taking a stand

Sitting down translates as taking a stand


Singing the national anthem during a pregame ceremony represents a long-standing tradition in American sports.

Why? It sets the tone for competition and reminds participants of how lucky they are to have the opportunity to play sports professionally in this country.

The anthem, along with the flag, stands for everything that is patriotic and right with America. Right? The truth in 2016 is, I’m not sure how many people actually still think this is the case.

Modern America is progressive and innovative, but still faces social challenges and injustices that plague its overall image. Specifically, being a minority in this country can be a unique experience on a day-to-day basis.

People of color may act a certain way in a nicer neighborhood or store, or when dealing with law enforcement. Can anyone really blame them? No, especially not if you keep up with the news.

It is an unfortunate truth that happens in every community every day.

Some readers may be thinking, “I swear this was the sports section.” This is a hot-button issue in the world of sports because of the actions of professional athletes such as Colin Kaepernick.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback made waves by remaining seated through the national anthem during a preseason game on Aug. 26.

Kaepernick said his protest had nothing to do with the military but rather with the injustices that minorities face.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said immediately following the game.

His actions inspired other athletes to take similar action during the pregame tradition.

Controversy arose during the first NFL Sunday of the season (which coincided with the 15th anniversary of the Sept 11 terrorist attacks) when several players on different teams across the league displayed various protests.

Many fans felt this was especially disrespectful as the nation should “come together” on the anniversary of such a great tragedy.

Just about everyone can agree that Sept. 11 was awful, but that is not what this protest was about.

Kaepernick and these athletes are doing something important, using their social status and voice to bring attention to real problems.

Those who fail to acknowledge the problems and won’t accept that this is not an issue of disrespecting the military or displaying patriotism are only proving that society is completely missing the point.

Progress has been made throughout the years but there is clearly more work to do before everyone can call each other equal.

WOMEN'S SOCCER: Coach pleased with influx of freshman talent

WOMEN’S SOCCER: Coach pleased with influx of freshman talent


After a strong playoff run last season, the Pima Community College women’s soccer team opened the season ranked ninth nationally by NJCAA.

The Aztecs posted an overall record of 21-2-1 last year. Their season ended with a loss to Florida State in the second round of the national semifinals.

Kendra Veliz will continue her work as head coach.

“As far as last year, we met every goal we set for ourselves,” she said. “Our goal was to reach nationals and win our first game, because the previous year we lost our first game.”

Seven new players have joined the team this season.

“I am happy with the freshman class coming in,” Veliz said. “I think there’s a lot of talent there.” 


Aug. 23: PCC 0, Paradise Valley CC 1

The Aztecs had a rocky start in their first game at 10th-ranked Paradise Valley Community College, losing 1-0.

It was the first game between the teams since last year’s Region I, Division I playoff. Pima won the 2015 game 2-1 and advanced to the NJCAA national tournament.


Aug. 27: PCC 4, South Mountain CC 0

The Aztecs won 4-0 when they hosted their first home game at Kino North Grandstand against the Cougars of South Mountain Community College.

Freshman Alexis Hernandez scored in the 27th minute and sophomore Maria Delgadillo scored three minutes later.

Sophomore forward Shania Pablo sealed the game with two second-half goals.

Both of the team’s goalkeepers played, with sophomore Daniela Sanchez playing the first half and freshman Tara Kase playing the second.


Aug. 30: PCC 3, Phoenix CC 1

Pima hosted a tight game against the Bears of Phoenix College on Aug. 30, but prevailed 3-1.

The Aztecs score twice in the first half with goals by Pablo and sophomore Destiny Jones.

The Bears tried bouncing back, scoring in the 78th minute.

Pima scored its third goal after sophomore Maury Urcadez was fouled inside the penalty area. Jones scored on the resulting penalty shot.

“We set our goals pre-season,” head coach Kendra Veliz said. “One of our pre-season goals was to win our home games.”

The team may still see many changes in alignment, according to Veliz.

“We’ve been struggling with injuries but we are hoping to get everybody some playing time so everybody adapts to the system we are playing,” she said.


Sept. 3: PCC 2, Cochise College 0

The Aztecs defeated the Cochise College Apaches in Douglas, 2-0.

Both goals came in the first half as Delgadillo scored in the 30th and 33rd minutes.

The goalkeepers again split playing time, with Sanchez registering two saves in the first half and Kase making two saves in the second half.


Sept. 6: PCC 0, Scottsdale CC 1

The Aztecs suffered their second loss when they played their third away-game of the season against the Artichokes of Scottsdale Community College.

With the score 0-0 at the end of regulation, the game went to overtime. The Artichokes scored the winning goal four minutes into the second overtime period, to remain unbeaten for the season.


Sept. 8: PCC 5, GateWay CC 0

In a home game at Kino North Grandstand, the Aztecs won with authority against the Geckos of GateWay Community College.

The Aztecs opened scoring in the first half with goals by Pablo in the 19th minute and by Hernandez in the 24th minute.

The team scored three more goals in the second half, from freshman Daelyn Mayer in the 56th minute, Pablo in the 67th and freshman Jahnmonique Smith in the 73rd.

The Geckos had two shots on goal, compared to 19 goal-scoring opportunities by the Aztecs.


Sept. 10: PCC 1, Chandler-Gilbert CC 3

The Aztecs lost their third game of the season on the road against the Coyotes of Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

Pima scored first with a goal by sophomore Sonia Garcia in the 14th minute, but the Coyotes bounced back, scoring twice in the first half. They secured the win with another goal in the second half.


Freshman Tara Kase practices as goalkeeper with her team during warm-ups before a match against South Mountain Community College. (Katelyn Roberts/Aztec Press)

Freshman Tara Kase practices as goalkeeper with her team during warm-ups before a match against South Mountain Community College. (Katelyn Roberts/Aztec Press)











Sept. 20: at Mesa CC, 7 p.m.

Sept. 22: at Arizona West College, 7 p.m.

Sept. 24: Paradise Valley CC, Kino Sports Complex, 7 p.m.

Sept. 27: at South Mountain CC, 3:30 p.m.

FOOTBALL: After taste of success, Aztecs hungry for more

FOOTBALL: After taste of success, Aztecs hungry for more


The Pima Community College football team hopes to build on a successful 2015 season despite facing a tough conference schedule for 2016.

The Aztecs committed five turnovers and were held scoreless Sept. 10 in a 20-0 loss to No. 5 Arizona Western College in Yuma.

AWC set the tone with a first-quarter interception of a tipped pass by freshman quarterback Justin Martin. The Matadors then blocked both a field goal and a punt attempt before scoring their first touchdown of the night.

The Aztecs finished the first half with 98 yards of total offense. They attempted to rally in the second half and had a chance to score in the fourth quarter but turned the ball over on downs.

Pima started the season by defeating Air Force Prep Academy 42-24 on Sept. 2 in Colorado Springs.

The game was a dogfight in the first half, with the Aztecs only able to mount a one-touchdown lead at the break.

In the second half, Martin helped the Aztecs outscore their opponent 21-10. Martin totaled 400 yards and six touchdowns, throwing for five touchdowns and running for one.

He was named WSFL/ACCAC Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 7.

Last year, the Aztecs boasted a 4-1 home record and were 7-4 overall. They finished as runners-up in the Western States Football League, falling in the championship game to Snow College of Utah.

PCC ranked 13th in the nation in scoring with 407 total points and 15th in total offense at 4,376 total yards. The team was also 12th in first downs per game at 21.6.

Head coach Jim Monaco returns to lead the team in 2016. Pima entered the season unranked but was the fifth and final team to receive votes and consideration for the top 20 NJCAA poll.

Sophomore running back Sirgeo Hoffman will play a big role on offense, jumping from productive backup to full-time starter. Sophomore wide receiver Jeff Cotton will also be asked to step up.

The Aztecs return one of the most intriguing defenses in the conference. Last year, they were eighth in the nation with 954 total tackles, second in the nation in fumble recoveries at 16 and seventh in the nation in defensive touchdowns with five.

“Our goal on defense this season is to get the ball back to the offense and, more specifically, stop the run,” defensive coordinator Pat Ryden said. “Our long-term goal is to win our conference and play in a bowl game.”

Look for sophomore linebacker Kana’l Picanco to be thrust into the limelight. Sophomore cornerback Paul Davis will anchor a secondary unit that plans to cause problems for opposing quarterbacks.

Ryden also offered “welcome back” to sophomore linebacker Tyson Otuafi, who is returning to the team from a two-year church mission.

“We just need to make sure that we are tough and physical in all aspects on our side of the ball,” Ryden said.



Sept. 17: Scottsdale CC, Kino North Stadium, 7 p.m.

Oct. 8: Eastern Arizona College, Kino North Stadium, 7 p.m.

ATHLETIC VOICE: America's true sports pastime returns

ATHLETIC VOICE: America’s true sports pastime returns


This country loves football. Not soccer but good old American football.

The NFL returned Sept. 8 and continued with a full slate of Sunday games on the 11th. The league anxiously hopes to hear that it topped ratings records that were set just one season ago.

Last year, the NFL saw approximately 27.4 million viewers for an opening night game between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to

The numbers represented the second-highest ratings for an opening night game to date. The high ratings continued with an opening Sunday night game attracting 26.8 million viewers.

Though some believe the league has reached its peak, the numbers say otherwise. So what makes American football so popular?

The first game of football was played in the 1800s during a time in which our country was still figuring itself out. As Americans sought new forms of entertainment, various games and sports were introduced. Football is basically a hybrid version of rugby.

The game became so popular in part because Americans appreciate violence, even in a lighter form. The game offered a perfect balance of regulated sport with entertaining acts of savagery.

Even though the rules and equipment have been modernized in an attempt to make the game safer, the passion for physical aggression is still relevant today.

Football also offers an opportunity for routine. Think about how a major portion of the population sets aside time during their weekends for football. Professional football has become a tradition, to say the least.

The most important reason that football is so popular is that it brings people together.

People gather to watch and discuss games. They form “fantasy football” leagues with groups of friends who follow the game.

Football gives Americans an opportunity to bond over a common hobby. Even those who don’t follow the game usually find themselves watching the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl ratings are staggering and make a case for football being the top sport. The championship game for professional football is pretty much considered a national holiday.

No need to fight the feeling. Football fever is upon us and it is only a matter of time before you catch it too.


CROSS COUNTRY: Teams finish fourth at Flagstaff season opener

CROSS COUNTRY: Teams finish fourth at Flagstaff season opener


The Pima Community College men’s and women’s cross country teams both placed fourth at the George Kyte Invitational in Flagstaff on Sept. 3.

The women’s team finished fourth out of six teams while accumulating 92 points in the Open Division final standings.

Sophomore Taryn Estavillo earned the best finish for the Aztec women in the 2.6 mile race, earning 30th place out of 95 runners with a time of 17 minutes, 21.20 seconds.

Sophomore Samantha Felzien finished 34th with a time of 17:29.9. Freshman Alondra Carrasco finished 70th with a time of 19:39.2.

The men’s team earned a fourth-place finish out of seven teams, accumulating 107 points in the Open Division final standings.

Sophomore Armando Antonio Jr. had the best finish for the Aztec men, completing the 4.5-mile race in 46th place out of 100 runners. His time was 26 minutes 11.40 seconds.

Freshman Gerrit Ralston finished 50th with a time of 26:28.2. Freshman Alonso Sodari finished 56th with a time of 26:44.2.

The Aztecs compete next at the Dave Murray Invitational at Dell Urich Golf Course in Tucson on Sept. 16.

Head coach Greg Wenneborg has returned for the 2016 season and will work to build on last year’s accomplishments, which saw both teams advance to the NJCAA National Championships.

The women’s team finished in sixth place and the men finished in ninth, which represented Pima’s best finish in 10 years.

Felzien posted a solid freshman season with the women’s team, finishing 65th in the 5K race at the national championships.

For the men’s side, Antonio finished 142nd in the national 8K race as a freshman. His time was fifth best among the Aztec men, behind four sophomores.


On Deck

Sept. 16: Dave Murray Invitational, Dell Urich Golf Course in Tucson. Women’s race 5 p.m., men’s race at 5:45 p.m.

Sept. 23: at ACCAC Conference Championships, Arizona Central College (Casa Grande). Women’s race 8 a.m., men’s race 8:45 a.m.

Oct. 8: at Mesa CC Thunderbird Classic, Mesa Community College. Women’s race 7 a.m., men’s race 7:45 a.m.


Pima honors winter-spring athletics

Pima honors winter-spring athletics


Pima Community College honored the athletics program May 25 with a two-hour reception.

The evening started with Edgar Soto, Executive Director of Athletics, quickly acknowledging the successful sports season.

“One of the greatest years in Pima sports history,” Soto said.

The Lawrence R. Toledo Leadership Award 2016 recipients were announced next. The award not only recognizes student/athletes excellence in academics and athletics, but it also honors the man it is named after, PCC’s first athletic director.

The four recipients of this year’s award were Kristin Baldwin, Jamie Holliday, Kelsey Montano, and Deontay Townsend. The four have finished their Pima experiences and are continuing on to the next collegiate level.

The award was presented by Ann Toledo-Oyama, Toledo’s wife of 25 years, and their daughter Suzanna Minegishi.

One of the highlights was when Montano received her award and her daughter, on stage, jumped up and down in excitement.

A 7-minute video picture montage followed the award presentation. The video showed action photos that paid tribute to the athletes and coaches that made this past season so memorable.

After the video, the coaches took turns speaking. Each used the time to thank all those that have helped to make Pima athletics successful. The highlight was hearing the impressive list of accomplishments from the past season. Each sport had reasons to be proud and athletes to honor.

One common theme from each coach was the credit and thanks they gave to Soto.

“Edgar you are the glue. We hit bumps in our season, I am sure all coaches do. Our first phone call is to Edgar and he smooths out all the bumps for us,” softball head coach Armando Quiroz said. “We really appreciate you. Thank you very much, Edgar.”

Many of the coaches spoke of how Pima has the best collection of coaches that they have ever been around. Another credit they gave to Soto.

One of the benefits of having such a talented group of coaches is that they motivate each other.

“I aspire to be great because every coach here at Pima does such a great job,” women’s basketball head coach Todd Holthaus said. “Because of our competitive nature, you don’t want to be the one that let everyone down.”

Lawrence R. Toledo recipients

Pima Community College honored four athletes with the Lawrence R. Toledo Leadership Award on May 25.

Softball: Aztecs have score to settle

Softball: Aztecs have score to settle


The Pima Community College softball team finished second to Phoenix College in last year’s tournament.

They won the first two games, one against Phoenix, and needed only one more win for the title but lost two straight

games to the Phoenix Bears.

“Our sophomores and coaches still have a bitter taste,” head coach Armando Quiroz said. “I am hoping this will be a

motivating factor. Getting kicked in the gut is something you don’t forget.”

Maybe an even bigger factor will be the confidence the Aztecs have after they finished the season with four straight

run-rule victories.

They outscored their opponents 45-2 in those four games.

“I feel really confident about how we’re heading into the tournament,” freshman Bailey Critchlow said.

After a rough stretch where they went 2-4-1, the Aztecs finished the season 12-2 in their last 14 games.

“We are on a high right now and we are playing really relaxed and as a team,” Critchlow said. “It is a big change from

how we were in the middle (of the season). Everyone is picking each other up.”

Sophomore Odalis Orduno is also pleased with the team’s current play.

“We are on the right track and we’re ready for regionals,” Orduno said.

Orduno was named ACCAC Pitcher of the week for April 18-24. This is the fourth time she won the award this year.

“It feels like an accomplishment,” she said.

As much as PCC wants revenge against Phoenix, they will have to play Glendale Community College first when the

tourney starts May 5.

“Glendale is very tough, they’ve really improved,” Quiroz said. “We can’t look ahead to Phoenix or anyone else

because we have a tough first game.”

The Aztecs went 3-1 against the Gauchos this year, but split the last two games.

“They played us really tough the last time,” Critchlow said. “But because we are on such a roll right now I think we’re

good. We are in a really good place heading into the tournament.”

Phoenix will host South Mountain Community College in the double elimination tournament’s other game. The two

winners play each other with the winning team going to the finals, as Pima did last year.

Winning on the road is always a challenge.

“There are lots of factors and distractions playing there that we must overcome,” Quiroz said.

Sophomore Kalynn Martinez keeps it in perspective.

“It would be nice to be here for regionals, but at the end of the day it’s softball so you just go out and play,” she said.

“Whoever plays better is going to win.”

The confidence of the Aztecs may carry this team to a title.

Critchlow said the key is “staying confident throughout the whole thing. Every once in a while, especially against

Phoenix we can get down if they string a couple of hits together. We need to remember we are good. We can beat


For season results and stats, visit

The ACCAC Division II Regional Tournament is on May 6-7.


Baseball finishes subpar season on winning note

Baseball finishes subpar season on winning note


The Pima Community College baseball team (30-26, 17-23 in ACCAC) saw its regular season come to a close on April 30 after a doubleheader series split against Chandler-Gilbert Community College at the West Campus.

Despite finishing above .500, it was a rough season for the Aztecs as they were unable to win doubleheaders.

In the first game, the Aztecs’ bats were inconsistent despite scoring three runs. Chandler-Gilbert capitalized early by scoring three runs in the first and third inning and one in the sixth.

PCC broke the shutout in the sixth when sophomore Hunter Green, who went 2-for-3, hit an RBI double. Freshman Manny Ramirez followed Green with another RBI double to score Green.

Freshman Andres Hackman went two and two-thirds allowing six runs.

In the second game against the Coyotes, Pima’s bats erupted in a 13-5 victory despite trailing 3-0 entering the bottom of the sixth. Green, who anchored the offense in the first game, and sophomore Francisco Rodriguez hit back-to-back RBI singles. Fellow sophomore David Oropeza hit an RBI single making it a 7-4 game. PCC scored nine runs in the next two innings to seal the victory.

In a doubleheader against Glendale Community College on April 26, the Aztecs were swept at the West Campus. In the first game, Glendale mercy-ruled Pima 13-2 in five innings as they were held to two runs on seven hits. Sophomore Ivan Estrella and Green each went 2-for-3.

In the second game, the Aztecs and Gauchos fought back-and-forth into extra innings. Sophomore Xander Carrilo blew the tied-game in the 12th and Pima failed to score in the bottom half of the inning and lost 9-8. Felix led the team with five hits in six at-bats.

On April 23, Pima hosted a doubleheader matchup against Phoenix College at the West Campus. In game one, the Aztecs surrendered three runs in the top of the seventh as Carrillo gave up a game-tying two-run shot to even things up at three apiece. Fellow freshman Jake Roberson blew the lead as he surrendered an RBI walk giving Phoenix a 4-3 lead, the final score.

The second game, a win for the Aztecs, didn’t come easy in a high scoring affair. Down 10-8 in the bottom of the ninth, Estrella began the PCC’s rally with a leadoff single. With a hit by Sophomore Ryan Ramsower and a later error, the game was tied at 10. Freshman Oscar Larranaga was the hero of the game as he hit a sac-fly to deep-right field that scored freshman Max Whitehead to win the game 11-10.

Freshman Kristian Samorano picked up his second win in relief as he pitched the ninth inning with one strikeout and one walk. Freshman starter Miguel Figueroa pitched five and two-third innings giving up six runs (five earned) on seven hits with six strikeouts and four walks.

As the season came to an end, Pima will need to go to the drawing board and find the best ball players that can win games.

Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics Freshman Oscar Larranaga swings at an incoming pitch during a game against Yavapai College.

Photo courtesy of PCC Athletics
Freshman Oscar Larranaga swings at an incoming pitch during a game against Yavapai College.

Athletic trainers ‘first line’ in emergency situations

Athletic trainers ‘first line’ in emergency situations


At Pima’s West Campus, within the fitness center, reside three employees who are in charge of the health and safety

of all 400 current Pima athletes.

These medical professionals see between 50 and 100 students daily and must attend to their needs on and off the

field. Their names are April Jessee, Akira Kondo and Chris Murphy.

These unsung heroes go by the title of athletic trainer, and are medical professionals trained to take care of those

involved in any sporting event Pima attends.

Football player Alex Rios said he visits the trainers before every game. The athletic taping on his wrists and ankles

ensures he stays safe during games.

When visiting the fitness center, several athletes like Rios can almost always be seen working with one of the three


From stretching exercises to rehabilitating after major surgeries, the fitness center provides a safe haven for trainer

and athletes to work together.

“The challenges unique to our job are that every day is different and we have to be prepared for the worst,” Jessee

said. “We are the first line in emergency situations with our athletes and also the last person they see before returning

to play.”

All three of Pima’s athletic trainers boast years of experience.

In addition to having a master’s degree in athletic training, Jessee holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and

has worked at many colleges.

Murphy was an intern for the Arizona Diamondbacks, while Kondo is a certified CPR rescuer and a member of both

American and Japanese athletic trainer organizations.

Jessee is currently in her sixth year as an athletic trainer for Pima.

Murphy worked for the school from 2005-2006, and is now in his first year back.

This is Kondo’s first year working with the school full time, though he worked part time from 2003-2005.

There are also eight interns who work alongside Pima’s certified trainers.

One of the interns, Danielle Galvez, has put in more than 900 hours at the West Campus’ fitness center just during

this school year.

At any given moment, several athletes can be found in the fitness center waiting to be seen by the trainers. Student

athlete Kelsey Montana said that she visits the trainers every day, twice a day.

“My personal choice to become an athletic trainer came from my love of medicine and sports,” Jessee said.

She explained that she was amazed by the work done by then-Phoenix Suns athletic trainer Joe Proski and wanted to

help athletes like he did.

The athletic trainers at Pima are uniquely situated in a school that provides for their profession and respects the

importance of their presence at every game.

Some high schools have only one athletic trainer for 400 athletes, or have their athletic trainers working on a

teacher’s salary with only a small stipend designated for their athletic training work.

The National Athletic Trainer’s Association reported in 2009 that when an athlete goes down on the playing field, an

athletic trainer is the first responder to prevent or treat an injury; yet only 42 percent of high schools have access to

athletic trainers today.

Jessee pointed out that things have not improved since then. Many schools lack or have insufficient athletic trainers

to care for the students.

Raymond Suarez, Pima’s athletics assistant program coordinator and sports information provider, said the athletic

trainers are present at all major sporting events.

A student athletic trainer often accompanies them, so the student can learn the profession first-hand.

Jessee admitted this can make balancing personal life and work difficult, but the job is rewarding.

“Here at Pima Community College we are in a unique situation where we have the support and understanding of our

athletic director Edgar Soto and our coaches,” Jessee said.

“This is one of the places that I feel we are really taken care of in regards to our profession.”

Pg15-Trainer Chris Murphy-athlete Baylee Lakey

Trainer Chris Murphy treats student Baylee Lakey during post-surgery recuperation. Moe Irish/ Aztec Press

Pg15-Trainer intern Danielle Galvez

Athletic trainer intern Danielle Galvez tapes a football player’s ankle for support. Pima trainers see 500-100 athletes daily. Moe Irish/Aztec Press

Track and Field: PCC preparing for title

Track and Field: PCC preparing for title


The Pima Community College men’s and women’s track and field teams participated in their final regular season events at the Triton Invitational in La Jolla, CA on April 22-23.

Sophomore Kelsey Montano finished the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 11 minutes, 12.65 seconds. She broke a Pima school record as well as earning No. 1 in the country with her time. She also improved her national qualifying time by 39 seconds.

Samantha Felzien earned a national qualifying time in the 5,000-meter race finishing at 19:28.93. Felzien also holds a national qualifier in the 10,000-meter race.

For the men’s team, Sophomore Ahmed Mohamed earned a national qualifier in the 5,000-meter race with a time of 15:05.64. Mohamed improved his time in the 1,500-meter race as well.

Sophomore Amanuel Logo set a new national qualifying time in the 800-meter race with a time of 1:54.78. He was also able to improve his 5,000-meter race by roughly 10 seconds.

Sophomore Jomari Collie finished the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.83 seconds earning a national qualifier in the process.

Sophomores Estevan Gomez and Mark Bennett improved their national qualifying times in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and 5,000-meter race respectively.

PCC ends the regular season with 36 national qualifying marks.

Pima is intensely preparing to participate in the NJCAA Outdoor National Championships May 17-19 at South Plains College Track in Levelland, Texas.

The Aztecs enter competition with 36 National qualifying marks. For full results, click here.

Men’s team wins regional championship

Men’s team wins regional championship


Pima Community College men’s golf came back to the Old Pueblo with the NJCAA Region I, Division I Championship.

The Aztecs won their second straight championship with a total of 1,179 (295-294-296-294) in the four-day tournament and won by 39 strokes in the final standings.

“It was a great season,” head coach Clark Rustand said. “Our players stepped up this year in a big way, and we saw the program move forward because of it.”

Eastern Arizona College took second place with 1,218 (315-293-309-301).

Scottsdale Community College placed third with 1,236 (316-292-316-312). Estrella Mountain Community College was fourth with 1,325 (334-333-325-330).

Pima sophomore David Rauer was the individual champion as he posted a total score of 286 (72-71-71-72). He was six over par for the tournament and won by 10 strokes.

Last year, Rauer took second place in the region championship.

The Aztecs took half of the eight top golfers spots of the All-Region I, Division I teams.

Sophomore Will Dennis tied for second place in the standings with a score of 296 (75-75-75-71). Sophomore Frankie Wu struggled but managed to finish in fourth place with a 299 (71-74-76-78).  Sophomore Wilfred Tewawina tied for seventh place with a score of 305 (78-77-74-76).

Freshman Jonah Daniels struggled but was able to score a five-over par 75 in the final round. He tied for ninth place with a score of 309 (77-74-83-75).

The Aztecs will compete in the NJCAA National Championship at the Duran Golf Course in Melbourne, Fla., from May 16-19.

Rustand believes the one thing the team must do in preparation for nationals is to eliminate mistakes.

“We really struggled at regionals with careless mistakes which lead to higher scores than we should have made,” he said. “If we can eliminate those mistakes, I think we can have a really good week.”

Women’s team heads to Florida May 16-19


The Pima Community College Women’s golf team is getting ready to participate in the NJCAA Championship at the Daytona Beach Golf Course in Daytona, Fla., May 16-19.

Fans will look to see how freshman Desiree Hong fares. She took first place in four out of six regular season tournaments this season.

Athletic Voice: My greatest of all time: Kobe Bryant

Athletic Voice: My greatest of all time: Kobe Bryant


When Kobe Bryant announced his retirement last year, a spectrum of emotions and thoughts flooded my mind.

Bryant is often referred to only by his first name. His father decided to name him Kobe after seeing the Japanese beef on a menu.

Throughout my life, Kobe bested both my beloved New York Knicks and my father’s Phoenix Suns time and time again. This naturally made him the bad guy. He was the guy we hated, which in turn made us hate the Los Angeles Lakers.

I watched as he won countless team and individual awards.

Let us not forget the three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002 and the two additional championships in 2009 and 2010.

I remember betting a dollar or two with my cousins and always losing. Kobe always won.

Not all that came to mind were memories I want to remember.

Kobe’s infamous “White Hot” photo shoot with the L.A Times Magazine in 2010 is a low point for me when it comes to his legacy. He dons an assortment of button-down shirt, hat and headband combo, deep v-necks, bow ties, cut off shorts, etc. All of them white, and all of it shot behind a white background.

It was nightmarish and evil when I first saw it at the tender age of 13 and it still is at the age of 20.

I also remember the friendless Kobe, the one with the mindset to win at any cost, teammates be damned.

During an interview, journalist Andrea Kramer listed words that Kobe’s teammates used to describe him. Words like loner, selfish, single-minded, arrogant and aloof.

Kobe just laughed, nodded and continued to sinisterly apply lip balm. At the end, he agreed that each description was true.

Even through all the hatred I had for him throughout his career, I still believe he is the greatest of all time.

We like to compare teams, individual players and even the sport in general to other teams, players and sports.

Kobe has always been compared to other basketball greats such as Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.

Even though my grandfather and father can tell me about how great those two players were, I wasn’t around to see them. I was around for Kobe.

I was around for it and now I wish he never retired.

My hatred for Kobe has retired as well, replaced with respect. Somehow, I don’t think he would be too happy about it.