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Track: More PCC qualifiers for indoor nationals

Track: More PCC qualifiers for indoor nationals

 By KATELYN ROBERTS

With the Aztecs’ last meet before nationals under their belts, every national qualifier earned is being counted.

On Feb. 17, Pima Community College’s track and field teams competed in the NAU Tune-Up Meet in Flagstaff.

Freshman Colin Dylla qualified nationally for the 800-meter race with a time of 1 minute and 58.17 seconds, taking fifth place  Freshman Filimone Tu-avao qualified in the weight throw with a throw of 51 feet and 7 inches.

He earned ninth place. Freshman Jymil Toney improved his national qualifier in the high jump with a new mark of 6 feet, 8.75 inches.

Sophomore Sam Shoultz took second place in high jump, matching his season-best mark with a mark of 6 feet, 10.75 inches.

In the long jump, freshman Cam Duffy earned second place at 22 feet and 0.75 inches, and  Treyshon Malone earned third with a jump at 22 feet and 10 inches.

Next up, PCC track and field will head to Pittsburg, Kansas, to compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Indoor National Championships.

Eddie Celaya./ Aztec Press Hannah Bartz takes flight during her first attempt in the long jump at the Aztec Indoor Invitational,

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Aztecs knock off No. 1 seed to take third place at nationals

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Aztecs knock off No. 1 seed to take third place at nationals

By JASON WEIR

The Pima Community College women’s basketball team won a nail-biter March 19 to claim third place in the NJCAA Division II national tournament.

Playing in Overland Park, Kan., PCC beat No. 1 seed Monroe (N.Y.) Community College 74-73, handing the Tribunes their second loss of the season.

PCC finished the year 28-8.

Pima and Monroe had hoped to be playing for the national title. Both teams lost the night before, setting up the third-place game.

Monroe took its first lead, 73-72, with 26.7 seconds left in the game. Pima inbounded the ball to freshman Sydni Stallworth, who was fouled. She hit two free throws to put the Aztecs ahead.

Pima’s swarming defense forced Monroe to take a tough shot that missed. Sophomore Shalise Fernander tipped the ball away as time expired.

Sophomore Taylor Blue was Pima’s leading scorer, putting up 22 points for the second night in a row. Sophomore Gabby Banales and Fernander each had 17 points.

Banales had a good night from behind the three-point line, making five of her nine attempts.

“I’ve always been comfortable in my shot,” Banales told PCC sports information writer Raymond Suarez. “Everyone was giving me the ball when I was open and I was feeling it.”

Stallworth and Blue were named to the All-Tournament team.

The Aztecs faced No. 2 seed Illinois Central College on March 18 in the semi-final game. The Cougars beat the Aztecs 77-74.

Pima fell behind by double digits early in the fourth quarter. The Aztecs fought back to get within one point, 64-63, but the Cougars answered with back-to-back baskets and held on to win.

PCC outrebounded Illinois 53-42. Blue led the Aztecs with 22 points and 14 rebounds, including nine offensive rebounds. Stallworth also had a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Pima advanced to the Final Four with a 90-82 win over Cape Fear (N.C.) Community College on March 16. The Aztecs win snapped the Sea Devils’ 26-game winning streak.

PCC trailed much of the first half and Cape Fear led 50-45 when the Aztecs went on a 10-0 run. The teams played close the rest of the way.

The game was tied 62-62 when sophomore Hayley Pryor hit a jump shot to give Pima a lead. The Aztecs made six-of-eight free throws in the final minute to hold off the Sea Devils.

PCC had five scorers in double figures. Stallworth had a game-high 21 points, 17 from the free-throw line. Banales had 19 points and went five-for-seven from three-point range. Both Fernander and Blue had a double-double.

Pima opened the NJCAA tournament March 15 against Hagerstown (Maryland) Community College with a 96-55 win.

The Hawks fell behind 21-8 early and were down 47-31 at halftime. The Aztecs continued to expand their lead the entire game as PCC’s depth and speed wore Hagerstown down.

Freshman Denesia Smith led the scoring with 19 points. Pima’s bench scored 31 points, led by freshman Erin Peterson. She went 4-for-5 in shooting and had nine points and five rebounds.

Women’s basketball players, coaches and assistants celebrate their third-place national victory. (Photo courtesy PCC Athletics)

Women’s basketball players, coaches and assistants celebrate their third-place national victory. (Photo courtesy PCC Athletics)

Pima posts 13 national qualifiers

Pima posts 13 national qualifiers

By WILL WILLCOXSON

Already well into the season, Pima Community College Track and Field teams have competed in two competitions since the beginning of the year.

After two meets, the Aztecs have 13 national qualifiers, with 11 meets still left in the season.

The Aztecs hosted teams from  Central Arizona Community College, Glendale Community College, Mesa Community College and Paradise Valley Community College during the Aztec Invitational on Feb. 6-7.

During the meet, the Aztecs fielded several national qualifiers in multiple events.

Sophomore David Stiles placed first in both men’s high jump and long jump. He achieved 1.83 meters in high jump during Friday’s pentathalon events and a distance of 13.29 meters on his last long jump attempt the following day.

Freshman Ahmed Mohamed set a national qualifying mark in the indoor 1000 meter race, with a time of  2:39.47.

Freshman Meghan Sweeney, improved on her national qualifying mark in the long jump competition with a distance of 1.66 meters.

Sophomore Andrew Lee set a national qualifying mark in indoor men’s pole vault with a height of 4.35 meters on his last attempt.

The Aztec track and fields teams competed at the Paradise Valley Community College meet that took place the previous weekend on Jan. 31.

Sophomore Kaysee Pilgrim and Sweeney highlighted the women’s high jump competition, with each of them taking first and second respectively. Pilgrim reached a height of 1.66 meters and Sweeney followed just below at 1.61 meters.

Danielle Spargur hit a high jump of height of 1.61 meters tying Sweeney and also earning an NJCAA qualification spot.

Freshman Jamie Holliday achieved her personal best in the long jump competition with a distance of 5.64 meters on her last attempt, as well as setting a national qualifier and taking first place.

Sophomore Rhiannon Reece received first place and set a national qualifying mark in the women’s pole vault competition at 3.05 meters on her final jump of the day.

Sophomore Cruz Rodriquez placed third in the 1000-meter race. A time of 2:32.77 places him in third place in the country.

After taking a week off of competition, the Aztecs will resume Feb. 21 with the Glendale indoor invitational.

Pg16-High jump

Red shirt freshman Danielle Spargur glides through the air with ease during the women’s high jump event at Pima’s West Campus for the Feb. 6-7 Aztec Invitational. (Nick Meyers/Aztec Press)

 

Pg16-Race start

Sophomore Shane Ward sets his stance to sprint in the Men’s 60-meter dash on Feb. 7. Ward is in his second year of playing football for Pima Community College and runs track in the off season to stay fresh. (Nick Meyers/Aztec Press)

Women’s cross country team heads to Nationals

Women’s cross country team heads to Nationals

By DANIEL GAONA

aztecpress@pima.edu

Pima Community College cross country coach Greg Wenneborg felt the men’s team was solid heading into the season but worried about the women’s team.

Now, at the end of the season, his mindset is the complete opposite.

The men’s team struggled throughout the season and failed to qualify for Nationals. It came down to injuries and the team just not being able to put it together at the right time.

On the other hand, the women used a true team effort to emerge onto the national stage. They are preparing to travel to Spartanburg, S.C., for Nationals, where they hope to place in the top five.

Pima dropped one spot to No. 11 after having an “off day” in the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 1 Championship meet. The off day meant finishing second as a team behind No. 3 Central Arizona College.

Central Arizona, the defending national champions, had six runners finish in the top 10 and is a major contender to win again.

The Aztecs had all seven runners finish within 17 places of each other at Regionals. Freshman stand-out Heidi Lopez led the way, placing 13th in 20:56.5. Sophomore Priscilla Mendoza finished right after Lopez in 20:57.2.

Priscilla Mendoza

Sophomore Julia Dittiger came in 16th and freshman Jodine Steemers finished 19th to round out the four Aztecs in the top 20. Dittiger said she’s more excited about going to Nationals this year compared to last.

“Last year we had the two superstars running but this year we’re all pretty much in a pack,” Dittiger said, referring to Danielle Higgins and Vivian Reed. “Our first through sixth runners are all within about a minute of each other so we’re pretty close and that makes us stronger.”

Last year the women placed sixth at Nationals. Higgins finished 13th to lead the way while Reed finished 21st.

Wenneborg said the team is a little banged up heading into the championship meet on Nov. 13. Sophomore Annalisa Loevenguth will travel with the team but will most likely not run due to a stress fracture. Steemers is suffering from a stress reaction but should be healthy by then.

“I think it’s definitely going to be a team effort to step up,” sophomore Julia Peerenboom said about making up for injuries. “We’re a team, we’re a family and we’re going to step up when one person is having a little trouble and we’re all going to make up for that.”

Julia Peerenboom

Wenneborg said that losing one runner isn’t too much of an issue because only the top five finishers score.

Lopez is the apparent leader of the team but still credits the team for her success. She’s confident heading into her first trip to Nationals.

“I’m confident and excited but at the same time scared,” Lopez said. “I’m scared of not running well. I don’t want to mess up.”

Peerenboom and Dittiger reassured Lopez that the team wouldn’t let her down and said they are going in as positive as possible.

“The thing we have really going for our team is we have really good chemistry,” Dittiger said.

The two also looked back to the beginning of the season when Wenneborg told them he thought it was going to be tough getting to Nationals.

“It just shows that if you work hard enough you can get anything you set your mind to,” Peerenboom said.

Aside from running at Nationals the team is looking forward to the trip across the country.

Freshman Rachel Whitford said the Mt. Sac meet on Oct. 15 in Walnut, Calif., was one of the highlights of the season. It also was a factor in molding the team nucleus.

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Online Extra: Summer Updates

Online Extra: Summer Updates

Photo by James Kelley

2010 Pima Graduation Ceremony

Former Pima coach Roderick Gary named men’s head basketball coach

Former Pima, USA Baseball and Foothills coach Jason Hisey named head baseball coach

Men’s soccer holding tryouts July 5 and July 7

Aztecs earn Academic All-American accolades

Three softball players selected to All-American teams

Japanese Speech Contest, Aikido and Anime Club Videos

Women’s track & field takes 13th at Nationals, the men finish 17th

Video of baseball coach’s last home game

Men’s golf team finishes 18th at Nationals

Two women’s golfers finish in top 42 at Nationals

Living the Dream: Pima Fashion Show video

Both track & field teams finish third at Regionals

Chloe' Nowell

Men’s tennis finishes 19th at Nationals

Women’s tennis finishes 19th at Nationals

Men’s basketball coach Karl Pieroway steps down, again

Yavapai finishes off softball

Softball bounces back, advances to Semifinals

Softball upset by bottom seed

Online Extra: Women’s track & field takes 13th at Nationals, the men finish 17th

Online Extra: Women’s track & field takes 13th at Nationals, the men finish 17th

By James Kelley
Photo by Daniel Gaona

The Pima Community College track and field teams both finished in the top 17 at the National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship and had10 top-eight finishes, breaking records in the process.

The Aztec women finished 13th with 17 points, while the men finished 17th with 11.25 points. The meet was held in Hutchinson, Kan.

Sophomore Sharissa Korn placed fourth in the javelin with a throw of 135’ 9”. Freshman Kat Howard finished fifth in the 10,000-meters, but more notably in a new school record time of 38:18.8.

The men’s 4×400-meter relay team of sophomore Stephan Bullard, freshman Derick Coker, sophomore Chris Phillips and freshman Mathew Robertson finished fifth in 3:15.5. On his own, Bullard finished sixth in the 800-meter in 1:54.1.

Stephan Bullard

Sophomore Jessica Davis took fifth in the shot put, by putting up a score of 40’ 2”.

Freshman Christian Tover earned Pima’s first points of the meet, going 160 feet with a personal record in the hammer throw and finishing sixth. Freshman Chloe’ Nowell leaped her way to a seventh place finish in the triple jump, (36’ 7”).

Freshman Magda Mankel earned seventh place in the 1,500-meter, in a time of 5:04.6.

Sophomore Kyle Bush was 8th in the 1,500-meter in 4:11.6. Freshman Anthony Johnson, was also an eighth place finisher, in the high jump, with a best of 6’8.75”.

Pima sent 24 athletes in 21 events.

Online Extra: Men’s golf team finishes 18th at Nationals

Online Extra: Men’s golf team finishes 18th at Nationals

By James Kelley

The Pima Community College men’s golf team finished in 18th place at a rain-shortened National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship.

The Aztecs finished 18th at nationals, shooting a three-round total of 933. The final round at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail River Course, in Owens Crossroads, Ala., was canceled.

Pima finished 73 shots behind national champion McLennan (Waco, Texas) Community College.

Freshman Anthony Grijalva led the way with a 227, (74, 78, 75), good enough for 50th place overall.

Freshman Nolan Kovach and sophomore Joseph Molina tied for 79th place with a score of 235. Kovach’s scores were 75, 80, 80 and Molina shot 82, 77, 76.

Sophomore Matt Rubin was 95th with a score of 240, (82, 79, 79). Sophomore Shane Zimmerman finished 101st with a three-day total of 242, (85, 76, 81).

Online Extra: Two women’s golfers finish in top 42 at Nationals

Online Extra: Two women’s golfers finish in top 42 at Nationals

Story and photo by James Kelley

The Pima Community College women’s golf team’s stay at Nationals was cut short and players didn’t even get to compete as a team.

The first day of the National Junior College Athletic Association National Championships in Daytona Beach, Fla., at the LPGA International Course was rained out and Pima was not able to field a team.

With only four team members, the Aztecs had to withdraw from the team competition when sophomore Nicole Gentry went down with an illness.

Sophomore Brianne Anderson led the way for the Aztecs with a 39th place finish, shooting 257, (80, 90, 85). Anderson was 10 shots back after the first day of the tournament.

Brianne Anderson

Freshman Jennifer Candanoza finished 42nd with 260 (83, 88, 89). Sophomore Elizabeth Livingston finished in 66th place with 276 (97, 86, 93).

Hometown player Mitsuki Katahira of Daytona State College won the tournament, shooting a 211. Daytona also won the team championship.

Last year the tournament was also shortened by rain.

Online Extra: Both track & field teams finish third at Regionals

Online Extra: Both track & field teams finish third at Regionals

Story and photo by James Kelley

The Pima Community College track and field teams finished third at the National Junior College Athletic Association Region I Championships.

Three Aztecs won region titles and four more qualified for Nationals.

Freshman Chloe’ Nowell CQ, triple jump, freshman Mario Portillo, 5,000-meter, and freshman Christian Tover, shot put, were crowned champions.

Nowell won the triple jump with a leap of 36’7”, Portillo won the 5,000 with a time of 15:51 and Tover won the shot put with a mark of 51’8”.

Chloe' Nowell

The new Pima qualifiers for Nationals are sophomore Kyle Bush in the 1,500-meter, freshman Derrick Coker in the 200 meter, freshman Magda Mankel in the 1,500-meter; and Nowell in the high jump.

The men’s 4×400 team finished in third place but broke a school record they had set earlier in the season. Sophomore Stephan Bullard, Coker, sophomore Nathan Manigault and sophomore Chris Phillips ran a 3:13.26.

Pima qualified 24 in 21 events for the NJCAA National Championship meet in Hutchinson, Kansas, May 20-22.

Nationals Qualifiers
Women
1. Acosta Zavala, Kathy 400-Meter Hurdles
2. Bishop, Brittany Pole Vault
3. Davis, Jessica Hammer
4. Dittiger, Julia 3,000-Meter Steeplechase
5. Dorado, Ashley 400-Meter Hurdles
6. Howard, Kat 5,000-Meters, 10,000-Meters
7. Korn, Sharissa Javelin
8. Loevenguth, Annalisa 1,500-Meters
9. Mankel, Magda 1,500-Meters, 5,000-Meters
10. Montano, Stephanie Pole Vault
11. Nowell, Chloe Heptathlon, Triple Jump, High Jump

Men
1. Bullard, Stephan 800-Meters
2. Bush Kyle 1,500-Meters
3. Coker, Derrick 4×100-Meter Relay, 200-Meters
4. Johnson, Anthony High Jump
5. Manigault, Nathan 4×100-Meter Relay
6. McIver, Daniel High Jump
7. Moeykens, Dylan Decathlon
8. Phillips, Chris 4×100-Meter Relay, 4×400-Meter Relay
9. Portillo, Mario 5,000-Meters
10. Robertson, Matthew 4×100-Meter Relay, 4×400-Meter Relay
11. Scarber, Frederick High Jump
12. Thomas, Antoine 4×100-Meter Relay
13. Tovar, Christian Hammer, Shot Put

Online Extra: Men’s tennis finishes 19th at Nationals

Online Extra: Men’s tennis finishes 19th at Nationals

By James Kelley
Photo by Steve Choice

Just like the women’s team, the Pima Community College men’s tennis team finished 19th at Nationals, but the men did so in Texas, not at home.

The Aztecs scored 9.5 points, also like the women, at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Tennis National Championships at Plano, Texas.

Andrew Barnett

Freshman Andrew Barnett made it to the quarterfinals of the Flight 1 Singles consolation bracket. Freshman Matt Lancaster also made it to the consolation quarterfinals, in Flight 5.

The sophomore doubles team of Raphael Sepulveda and David Tellez made it to the quarterfinals of Flight 2.

Online Extra: Women’s tennis finishes 19th at Nationals

Online Extra: Women’s tennis finishes 19th at Nationals

By Steve Choice and James Kelley
Photo by Daniel Gaona

The Pima Community College women’s tennis team finished 19th at Nationals.

The Aztecs scored 9.5 points at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Tennis National Championships at Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson.

“I was very happy with a top-20 finish in DI nationals,” head coach Gretchen Schantz said. “This year’s team had the most overall improvement I’ve seen in one season.”

Freshman Gabriela Rodriguez made it to the semifinals of the singles No. 1 consolation bracket. Sophomore Lori Cinnamond made it to the finals of the singles No. 3 consolation bracket.

Gabriela Rodriguez

Cinnamond and sophomore Ana Gallardo made it to the semifinals of the doubles No. 2 consolation bracket.

“We finished the year ahead of teams we had lost to early in the season,” Schantz said. “I’m looking forward to continuing that same improvement next year with the returning freshmen and with some new talented players.”

Last year the Aztecs finished 18th at Nationals.

Track and field carries high hopes into final meets

Track and field carries high hopes into final meets

Story and photo by Daniel Gaona

For the Pima Community College men’s and women’s track and field teams, regionals and nationals are nothing like ordinary meets.

Pima will travel to Mesa Community College on May 11 and 13 for the Region 1 Championships. Head coach Greg Wenneborg wants either the men or the women to be runners-up at regionals.

“Our goal is to get the upset,” he said. “Right now we’d probably take third or fourth at the region meet but we want to get runner-up.”

The teams are fully aware of what they need to do to bring home the hardware.

“We want to take a trophy home and everyone is going to have to do their part in order for that to happen,” Wenneborg said.

He also said the confidence level is high heading into the meet. Wenneborg feels that the team is set for a breakout meet and that it would surprise other teams because on paper it doesn’t look like Pima has a shot.

“Looking at the entries and looking at how our team is doing right now I think we could steal either a men’s or women’s second place finish,” Wenneborg said.

“The upside potential for the regional and national meet is so great and we’re just really excited for everyone.”

However, there is still some anxiety on the team.

“We’re a little nervous right now because there are sometimes downside potential and there are bad days,” Wenneborg said about regionals. “But right now I think we are poised to have a good meet.”

The biggest success factor through the whole season has been the depth and widespread talent for the Aztecs. It isn’t just a few events in which Pima is a contender.

“The thing I am so impressed right now is that we have such depth across the whole team,” Wenneborg said. “We’ve got our jumps crew in order, we’ve got our sprints crew in order, we’ve got our distances clicking right now and our throws are going to be a big surprise for us and score some huge points.”

Shortly after the regional meet, those on the team who qualified will head to Hutchinson, Kan. for the National Junior College Athletic Association Championships on May 20-22.

Middle distance runner Stephan Bullard and javelin thrower Sharissa Korn will be the top two Aztecs to watch during the upcoming meets. Both are legitamate contenders for NJCAA titles.

Bullard is currently the national No. 3 800-meter runner on the men’s side and his season best was 1:52.65.

“He has had some great workouts recently and I think as usual we expect him to go for a national title,” Wenneborg said. “He has a great shot because he is sharpening very well right now.’

Korn is the No. 2 female javelin thrower in the NJCAA with a best of 139 feet, 2 inches. Wenneborg thinks she can break the school record, which is 142-4, and win the regional and national titles.

Other athletes to watch include sprinter Derrick Coker and Kat Howard, who are both freshmen.

Coker ran the 100-meter dash in 10.70 but he needs a 10.69 to qualify for nationals.

Howard is the No. 6 5,000-meter runner and the No. 5 10,000-meter runner in the NJCAA.

“She is a machine,” Wenneborg said about Howard. “She improves every time she steps on the track.”

In field events on the men’s side Christian Tovar is a threat in multiple throwing events. He is No. 11 in shot put and No. 9 in the hammer throw. Wenneborg expects him to be a “big force” in both events.

Anthony Johnson should stand out in the high jumps. He is currently No. 11 in the country and Wenneborg said he’s clearing close to 7-0 at practice.

Both the 4×100 and 4×400 relay squads are ranked nationally. The 4×100 is No. 16 and the 4×400 team is No. 10. Chris Phillips and Matthew Robertson are on both of the relay crews.

Matthew Robertson and Chris Phillips

Chloe’ Nowell placed third at the Region 1 multiple-events meet on May 3-4. Her point total of 3,695 puts her at No. 10 in the nation and qualifies her for nationals in the heptathlon. She had already qualified in the triple jump as well.

On the men’s side, Dylan Moeykens is ranked 10th in the decathlon with 5,673 points.

Visit AztecPressOnline.com for updates and results.

Track and Field national qualifiers as of May 6
Men
Stephan Bullard
Derrick Coker
Anthony Johnson
Nathan Manigault
Daniel McIver
Dylan Moeykens
Chris Phillips
Mario Portillo
Matthew Robertson
Frederick Scarber
Antoine Thomas
Christian Tovar
Women
Kathy Acosta
Brittany Bishop
Jessica Davis
Julia Dittiger
Ashley Dorado
Kat Howard
Sharissa Korn
Annalisa Loevenguth
Magda Mankel
Stephanie Montano
Chloe’ Nowell

Korn following family roots, eager to end season with wins

Korn following family roots, eager to end season with wins

By Eric Townsend
Photo by Daniel Gaona

When Sharissa Korn travels to Kansas later this month for the National Junior College Athletic Association Championships, she hopes to follow in her brother’s footsteps and bring home a national trophy.

Jeremiah Korn, Sharissa’s older brother and roommate, won the shot put title two years ago.

“I’m very excited,” Sharissa Korn said. “Just to have the opportunity is pretty awesome.”

As a sophomore, Korn is currently the nation’s No. 2 female community college javelin thrower. Colleen Felix from South Plains is the top thrower with a best of 146 feet, only 6 feet, 8 inches farther than Korn’s top throw this year.

“I don’t really know anything about her but I’ve seen her marks and they are impressive,” Korn said about Felix. “I just have to stay focused and have fun. There is really no point in doing a sport if you don’t have fun.”

The surprise is that Korn has been throwing the javelin for just two years because high schools in Arizona don’t offer it as an event. Last year was her first year and she immediately connected.

“It’s by far my favorite event,” she said. “I haven’t been throwing for long, but it’s by far my best event.”

Sharissa Korn

Korn’s athleticism and work ethic can be attributed to her athletic family. Jeremiah has helped guide her this season, providing his sister with insights about nutrition, training and weight lifting to help her compete at the highest level.

“He is very supportive,” she said about her brother. “We are both pretty level-headed, but he’s been making sure I’m getting into the weight room and eating right.”

Korn competes in all of the throwing events but javelin is the only event in which she qualified for nationals. She isn’t too concerned about shot put, discus or hammer throw.

“I’m just average at those other events,” she said. “I’m trying to focus on javelin and improving my techniques at this point. I just want to get into the weight room and improve my throws.”

Her talents have garnered national attention and she has recently received a few scholarship offers. She said the recruiting process has gone well, and she is looking at schools in Colorado and Kansas.

Come May 20, in addition to repeating her family history, Korn will also try to keep a streak alive for the track and field team. Pima has produced at least one national champion in each of the last three years.

Sharissa Korn

Moustafa confident for success in the long-run

Moustafa confident for success in the long-run

By Chris Beck
Photo by Daniel Gaona

As the Pima Community College men’s tennis team earned its place at nationals, head coach Sharif Moustafa was named coach of the year in the Arizona region.

Originally born in Minnesota, Moustafa moved to Arizona as a child and quickly picked up tennis. Even from a young age, it was clear that the game was his calling.

“I was recruited to go to Phoenix when I was 16 to play for a junior tennis program,” Moustafa said. “I was the top-ranked southwest player.”

His skill took him to the University of Arizona, where he played for the tennis team. Unfortunately an injury ended his collegiate career.

Sharif Moustafa

Although his career at UA was cut short, his time there proved to be helpful and maybe even critical to his recent coaching success.

“I was coached by guys who coached top-25 players in the world,” Moustafa said. “I was very fortunate to have them as head coaches.”

While the 2010 season was his first at PCC, Moustafa had plenty of coaching experience before he arrived on campus.

He served as head pro at Club Yuma Fitness Center and as a pro for the Ron Smith Tennis Academy in Tucson. He has been a pro at the Tucson Racquet & Fitness Club since 2007.

“I had been coaching top juniors in the nation for four years,” Moustafa said. “When I heard the Pima job was open, I felt like I could bring what I knew about the community and what I knew about tennis into Pima and make it a national team.”

After a single season, Moustafa has no doubt achieved his goal. The team will head to Plano, Texas, on May 10-14 to compete for the national title.

In preparations for nationals, Moustafa is putting his team through grueling training in order to stay in top shape. His techniques prove that being coach of the year is not about babying players.

“The kids knew coming in that I was going to be one of the toughest coaches they ever had to face,” Moustafa said. “Especially with nationals coming in, they have been running three miles in the sand every day so I can get them prepared.”

“We are playing in Texas, which has the highest humidity, so I have to be able to strategize and get my players to not cramp out there.”

These strategies, among many others, have boosted PCC onto the national scene and earned Moustafa coach of the year honors. While the league recognizes his coaching excellence, he acknowledges that he could not do it without his players.

“I couldn’t be here without these players,” Moustafa said. “Without their heart and talent and the will that they put in for me. They are the ones, I just assisted them.”

In a single year at Pima, Moustafa has had incredible success with the team and only has higher expectations for seasons to come.

“My future plan is to build Pima to be a top-ranked team nationally,” he said.

Men’s Tennis Nationals lineup
Singles
No. 1 Andrew Barnett
No. 2 Alan Barrios
No. 3 David Tellez
No. 4 Default
No. 5 Rafael Sepulveda
No. 6 Matt Lancaster
Doubles
No. 1 Default
No. 2 Barrios/Sepulveda
No. 3 Lancaster/Tellez

Women’s tennis on late-season hot streak

Women’s tennis on late-season hot streak

By Steve Choice
Photo by Steve Choice

The Pima Community College women’s tennis team capped off its late-season surge with a strong showing at the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament, held May 2-6 at the Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson.

“I am very happy how the season is ending,” head coach Gretchen Schantz said. “This year’s team improved after every match and peaked exactly when we needed to, at regionals and nationals. We are now beating teams that we lost to in the beginning of the season with authority.”

The national tourney had not concluded at press time, but a top-20 finish for Pima was all but assured, according to Schantz.

Three Aztecs were still alive in their respective draws as play wrapped up on Day Three of the competition.

Freshman Gabriela Rodriguez and sophomore Lori Cinnamond punched their tickets to the consolation draw semifinals in singles play, while Cinnamond and sophomore Ana Gallardo advanced in the doubles consolation bracket.

The tournament is double-elimination, which means a player that loses early can still rack up victories in the “back draw”.

Freshman Lucy Gaynor continued her flair for the dramatic at No. 5 singles against Marley Myers from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College on Day Two.

Gaynor spotted the visitor from Georgia a 5-2 lead in both sets, but mounted furious comebacks in each one. Gaynor frustrated the lanky southerner with her effective defensive game, and Myers’ impatience led her to commit numerous unforced errors.

Gaynor also sent many well-placed passing shots past her opponent, to the delight of her teammates eating lunch courtside and cheering her on. Despite her spirited effort, she fell short, 7-5, 6-4.

Lucy Gaynor and Daisy Quezada

“I always have hope that I’m going to come back,” the native of San Carlos, Mexico said. “I never give up.”

Gaynor is already primed for next season, especially since she will be able to get in a whole year’s worth of training with the team.
“I didn’t start on the team until January this past year, so I was a little behind,” said Gaynor, who has only been playing tennis for five years. “I’m going to start in August this time, so I’m going to rock. I’m going to come with the big guns next year.”

The Aztecs will be without the services of Cinnamond, Gallardo and Ashley Oesterle in 2011, but Schantz remains optimistic about the squad’s future.

“I have half the team returning next year, and I am looking forward to seeing them continue to improve.”

With an almost certain top-20 showing at nationals as their springboard, the whole Aztec team will look to level their sights on their opponents next year.

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