Local high school athletes finding their way back home

Grand Canyon University is stocking up again on local athletes, but most of them are finding their way back to the Phoenix school after starting their college careers elsewhere.

GCU is looking for athletes to help start a new track and field program at the school.  The program’s first coach, Tom Flood, feels he found a couple that will become the “cornerstones” of the program.

Mikio Bain and Precious Amukamara are transferring in from Glendale Community College.  Bain attended Raymond S. Kellis High School in Glendale, where he was the 4A-II state runner-up in the 100m and this year became a NJCAA national qualifier in the 60m and 200m.  Amukamara went to Apollo High School in Glendale, where she was the 4A-I state champion in the 800m in 2006 and the state champion in the 400m in 2007.

The golf program signed four to national letters-of-intent, including Brittany Penny, a former 5A-II state champion when she attended Centennial HS in Peoria.  Her career got off to a great start as she spent the first year at Winthrop University, a D-I college in South Carolina, where she won All-Conference honors and was the Big South Freshman of the Year.  She is the defending Arizona Women’s Golf Association match-play champion.

GCU’s women’s golf team is ranked No. 12 in the nation.

And Mychala Lynch from Xavier Prep in Phoenix is coming back from a year at Texan Christian University to join the ‘Lopes swimming program.  At Xavier, she was a four-time All-State selection and won the state butterfly title as a senior.  She swam a 56.34 butterfly, which would have placed her fourth in this year’s NCAA meet.

Already on board from the November early signing period is Catherine Polito from Mingus Union HS in Cottonwood.  She is the two-time 4A-II state champion in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle.

The swimming program at GCU is still in its infancy, starting just three years ago.  But already it has been ranked No. 12 in the nation during parts of this season.  It qualified swimmers for the national championships for the second straight year.

And, by the way, it was another local swimmer, Alexis Glessner from Red Mountain HS in Mesa, who was the first GCU swimmer to score in the NCAA Championships.

As long as Arizona doesn’t run short of good athletes who want to stay home after high school, Grand Canyon should continue to build some strong sports programs.

(Photo: GCU Athletics/Tim Koors)