The fall high school sports season has not been kind to Xavier Prep.
For more than a decade, the Catholic all-girls school in central Phoenix has been a dominant force during this part of the school year. The Gators have won eight of the last 13 big-school state volleyball titles, including the 2017 and 2018 titles. In golf, they came into this season on an eight-year win streak.
But, for the first time in 15 years, Xavier won’t be among the volleyball teams playing in the state semifinals after Highland High School eliminated the Gators in the 6A state quarterfinals in five sets. And Pinnacle High broke Xavier’s eight-year reign as Division I golf champion by overwhelming the Gators to take a 16-stroke victory, leaving Xavier with the runner-up trophy.
And now the dry spell has extended to swimming & diving, where Xavier has won 28 state championships over the years, including eight consecutive titles from 2005 – 2012 and another in 2017.
But this season, the Gators had to settle for runner-up for the second straight year, behind Chaparral High School both times.
The Firebirds have been quietly putting away titles over recent years. This is their sixth consecutive state championship, but that run has been a little hard to track since the Scottsdale school has bounced around between two different conferences. They won back-to-back state titles in 2014 and 2015, when they were competing in Division I, then were placed in Division II where they won two more consecutive titles. And now, after being moved back to Division I, they have notched numbers five and six.
A dominant team performance this year in which the Firebirds posted a team total 480 points was well ahead of Xavier’s 320, was fueled by sweeping wins in the relays. They set a state record in the 200 medley relay and also won the 200 free and 400 free relays.
But it was three individual performances that helped pile up the points. Ashley Strouse won the 200 free and 500 free for a third straight year, Greer Pattison defended her titles in the 50 free and 100 backstroke, and Morgan Brophy added wins in the 200 IM and 100 fly. If you include relay participation, Strouse now owns 12 titles – and she has another year of eligibility to add to that total.
On the boys’ side, it was business as usual for the Brophy Prep swimmers. For the past three decades, all the other big-school programs have pretty much competed each year to see who gets the runner-up trophy. This D-I title makes it 32 in a row for the perennial Catholic-school power in central Phoenix.
Once again, the Broncos swamped the competition, piling up 484 points to far outdistance second-place Chaparral, which managed 285 points. The one Chaparral swimmer that has been unbeatable, senior Matthew LeBlanc, won the lone individual title for the Firebirds, winning the 100 breaststroke for the fourth consecutive year.
The Broncos also set a relay state record, this one in the 400 free relay, and then added wins in both the 200 medley and 200 free. The biggest individual contribution came from senior Matt Milovanovic, who won his second consecutive title in both the 100 breast and 200 free. Junior Finn Dowdall pitched in the other title, winning the 50 free.
There will likely be little change at the top next year. With its talent-rich roster, Brophy will be expected to continue its dominance in the boys’ competition.
And Chaparral will also be loaded again in 2020. Strouse, Pattison, and Brophy are all juniors.