Jan. 26, 2005 - AHEAD OF THE GAME: The Club Cactus Juniors' Boys 181 team is going places. It is also coming home with championships. The 181 boys recently captured the championship at the Southern California Volleyball Association Invitational Jan. 18 in Orange, Calif. The Riptides 18 Orange, a California-based squad, was no match for the 181 in the championship game, losing 25-21, 23-25, 15-13. Ironically, Riptide assistant coach Tyler Hildebrand (Red Mountain High School) was a former Club Cactus player in 2002.

The current championship batch of Club Cactus players is chock-full of Northwest high school players, including Canyon del Oro's Steve Madsen (setter), Curtis Jacques (middle blocker), Tim McGann (libero), David Hallowell (outside hitter), Mountain View's Matt Vanzant (outside hitter) and Kyle Jenks (middle blocker) and Ironwood Ridge's David Garwacki (setter) and Robert Humphries (middle blocker).

All players are seniors at their respective schools.

The club season will go on hiatus for the next three-plus months as the high school year takes precedence. When the club season resumes in late June, the Boys 181 will compete, as a top seed, in the USA Volleyball National Championships in Louisville, Ky. Club team members from CDO, MVHS, IRHS and Salpointe can become teammates, and friends, again when training begins for the national tourney after the high school campaign ends in May.


Four new head coaches will dig into the batter's box this spring when the high school baseball season throws out its first pitch. The first change comes from Ironwood Ridge High School where William "Chip" Stratton takes over the "Nighthawk Nine." Stratton replaces Scott Laux, the only baseball coach the program has had in its three-year history. Laux stepped down as head coach in December to join the Tucson Fire Academy at the start of February. The new coach isn't exactly new to the game of baseball, however. Stratton was a member of the University of Arizona's National Championship winning squad in 1986 and has been an assistant under Laux for the past three years.

Relinquishing head coaching duties at Pusch Ridge Christian Academy will be Brandt McFarlin. McFarlin, the Class 2A school's athletic director, will hand the wheel over to David Wolfe when the spring season starts Feb. 7. Joining Wolfe in the dugout will be Cameron North, who isn't short on baseball experience either. Before taking a job at PRCA this year, North, who also moonlights as the girls volleyball coach, was an assistant under another AD/head baseball coach, Vic Acuna at Green Fields Country Day School. The move for North to leave Green Fields was a difficult decision because his younger brother is still a player for the Griffins. As a teacher for PRCA, however, North believes splitting time between the two schools would prove too arduous for the assistant coach.

A new skipper will take over at Mountain View High School as well. Tony Gabusi, a teacher at Cholla, will bring more than 20 years of experience to the Mountain Lions' dugout. Gabusi joins Mountain View after a stint as an assistant coach at Pima Community College. The sweeping changes on the baseball front make four new faces taking over programs this spring. In September, Canyon del Oro head coach Keith Francis stepped down as head of the Dorados to coach at PCC. Len Anderson will take his place.


The town of Marana will host its first United States Gymnastics Association sanctioned meet - March 5 and 6. Girls ranging in age from 7 to 17 will compete at Marana High School in the Jessica Kleya Memorial Gymnastics Meet. The meet is dedicated to the memory of Kleya, who was killed in an automobile accident last March. Anyone wishing to be a sponsor for the event should contact Gymnastics World Northwest, 6985 N. Camino Martin, at 744-6180. All proceeds from the meet will go to support the Jessica Kleya gymnastics scholarship fund.

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