A big weekend ahead for the high school sports fan

   Kick it, spike it, or just run it into the ground.  This weekend is for the
high school sports fan because it offers some great competition across
the board – from some great Friday night football match-ups… to the
premier volleyball tournament of the season… to the granddaddy of
cross-country invitationals.
    The best girls volleyball teams in the states will step onto the courts at the prestigious Goldwater Volleyball Festival,
played at courts scattered around the north end of the Valley and
culminating with the championship matches at Barry Goldwater High
School.  It’s the closest thing to the state championships, as 32 teams
from around the state, regardless of division, compete for bragging
    Last year, Xavier Prep struggled to get past Corona del
Sol in the semis, going to three sets, and then dominated Gilbert HS,
25-14, 25-16, in the championship game for the tournament title. 
Xavier is again No. 1 in the power rankings and has to be considered a
favorite to repeat the the Goldwater.
    In the meantime, the cross-country fanatics have been waiting all season for the Doug Conley Invitational, and now it’s here. 
    The 37th annual Doug Conley Cross Country Invitational kicks off Sarturday morning at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, bringing together the top girls and boys teams in Arizona, regardless of class or division, as well as the seven best individual runners.
    Upsets in the team competition in both the boys and girls divisions highlighted last year’s run, as the Shadow Mountain HS boys team edged out Rio Rico HS, the defending champion, 129-133.  And Xavier Prep will be looking for revenge this year, after Ironwood Ridge HS (Tucson) squeezed out a narrow victory, 107-109, over the Gators, who were nationally-ranked at the time and the defending champions.
    Xavier’s Jessica Tonn (18:36.89) coasted to an individual win over second-place, Kylee Kieser from Casa Grande HS (18:45.91).  But Jorge Martinez from Alhambra HS had a much more difficult time beating Humberto Gonzales from Cesar Chavez HS, as the runners got entangled on the last 40 yards, with Martinez finishing just seconds ahead in 15:38.90.
    Because of its position on the season schedule, the Conley gives teams a chance to test their abilities against the best runners from around the state and hopefully peak at the right time as the state meet arrives Nov. 7.