Expectations are high for the Swim teams at Chaparral High School.
Nearly all of its swimmers race in the “A” heat. There is a thread of teamwork throughout the Boys and Girls’ programs that enables swimmers to step up each season and work towards gaining important wins and points for Chaparral.
“No matter what happens, we are there to support each other,” senior Blakely Schuricht said. “We have that dominance where our team is so deep within these heats and everyone is cheering for everyone with the same amount of enthusiasm. When you’re behind the blocks and you hear that and you know your team is behind you, it almost pushes you even further to go faster.”
“I think that’s one of the major reasons why we’re so great.”
Last season, according to head coach Russell Krzyzanowski, was a difficult swimming season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No spectators could be in the stands. Instead of four invitationals, Chaparral had one. The Firebirds had to run their own events in order to see how their swimmers were performing, but it paid off ahead of the Scottsdale Unified School District Invitational.
The Girls team won its seventh straight title behind the efforts of swimmers such as Schuricht, Morgan Brophy and Riley Courtney, who are headed to the University of Texas-Austin. Overall, five members of the program are headed to Division I opportunities next season.
Meanwhile, the Boys Squad won its second state title in three seasons. Krzyzanowski said that ahead of the upcoming season, Phoenix Brophy Prep lost a lot of seniors to graduation and Desert Vista High School is the Firebirds’ direct competition in terms of team depth. But at the moment, the team is the one to beat for Boys high school swimming in the East Valley.
“We all have very high expectations for ourselves and each other,” junior Kellan Pattison said. “When State comes, all we want to do is win and destroy everyone. That’s just how we do it at Chaparral.”
The person tasked with sustaining the success of the Firebirds’ athletes is Krzyzanowski, heading into his second season as head coach after spending six as an assistant. He shares a goal with his senior class each season: a fun, happy and enjoyable season that represents what Chapparal is all about.
For 2021, Krzyzanowski feels that his team is strong in all events. For both the Boys and Girls squads, he is looking forward to working towards continuing their streak of postseason success.
“There’s nothing better than jumping in the pool with the boys and girls to celebrate,” Krzyzanowski said.
Schuricht, who was part of a team that broke the state record for the 200-medley relay as a sophomore, is chasing more state and team records in her final season in Scottsdale. A team captain who swims the breaststroke and freestyle, she is committed to swim at Texas A&M University.
For Pattison — a freestyle and backstroke swimmer — he is eyeing dual meets against Desert Vista and Brophy Prep on Sept. 9 and Sept. 14, respectively.
There are times where Chaparral has been ranked as one of the top swimming programs in the country. With the state meet returning after a cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Firebirds are ready to bring more hardware back to Scottsdale, while also building a team-wide bond in the process.
“This team has just always been so safe for everybody,” Krzyzanowski said. “It’s literally like a home and family.”
Scottsdale high school programs ready for 2021 campaign
After finishing with an above-.500 record and earning the No. 14 seed, Saguaro’s badminton squad took a step back in 2020. The Sabercats finished 0-11 and were swept 9-0 in six of their matches. To bounce back, Saguaro will look to seniors Jaya Huma and Aly Pickett to lead the way. The two were the Sabercats’ top singles players last year and are their No. 1 doubles tandem.
The cross country program at Desert Mountain finished 2020 with a successful showing at the AIA Cross Country Championships. The Girls squad placed fourth overall and included top-20 finishes from Kaylin Lacher (19:27.2) and Haley Wilkinson (19:39.3). Meanwhile, the Boys team placed sixth overall with an 18th place finish from Logan Kerr (16:31.0). Coach Kevin Kemmerle has built a strong foundation throughout his tenure in Scottsdale that should continue into 2021.
Last season, Notre Dame Preparatory School flourished at the AIA Division III State Championships. While seniors on the Boys side led the squad to a sixth-place finish and wins in races such as 100-meter butterfly, the Girls team finished fourth behind the efforts of juniors such as Elle Aister and Camille Devine. Returning for 2021, the swimmers, as well as Lillian Mueller and Samanthan Kuczaj will bring veteran experience to races such as the freestyle. Additionally, sophomore Grace Vecchi is a name to watch; she finished fourth in the 100-meter backstroke during the state championships.
The Huskies’ Women’s Golf team hit the links for various victories last year against schools such as Saguaro and Desert Mountain. Makenna Cabardo medaled in six events and Horizon earned fifth place in the state tournament. The program also boasted one of the top badminton programs in the East Valley last year, earning the No. 5 seed and a 9-3 record. Kira and Kaitlyn Klann return to the team as seniors along with sophomore Karly Smith.
The Dons’ volleyball program struggled in 2020, winning just two games — both against Cortez — and finishing with a final ranking of No. 42. Yet the team returns a majority of its roster for 2021 to continue building towards a .500 season. Meanwhile, Coronado’s Boys and Girls’ Swim teams participated in five meets each as coach Justin Slover continues developing both programs.
In the 2A Metro Division, the Eagles dominated their competition on the volleyball court. Scottsdale Christian went 4-0 in its region and finished with an 11-3 overall record. The Eagles are coming off a championship victory behind the performances of players such as setter Lexi Lambert and libero Marley Dickerson. Both players return for the 2021 season, as well as three others.
Scottsdale Prepatory Academy’s Volleyball team made a run to the 2A state quarterfinals before falling to third-seeded Pima High School. In 2021, the team will be without its three seniors: setter Aria Bossone, outside hitter Hannah Kammer and libero Cailin Semro. Coming off a 16-3 record, the Spartans are in a good place as they seized a Region Championship last year.
Rancho Solano Prep
The Mustangs finished fifth overall in Divison 2A Volleyball play after winning 18 games. Rancho Solano Prep returns a wealth of talent such as sophomore outside hitter Melania Mathieux and libero Kierra Fox. Just three seniors depart the squad. The team started last season on an 11-game win streak and have numerous pieces to make another successful run towards the postseason in 2021.