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A bright new star may have emerged in Sedona swimming.

Carlos Lattanzi, top, and 8-year-old Sarina McCullough dive off their blocks to improve their form during a Sedona Swim Team morning practice at the Sedona Community Pool. Lattanzi, 10, is unbeaten through 12 individual summer swimming events for the Swordfish.
After winning all seven events he swam in at the Sedona Splash, Carlos Lattanzi, 10, did the same in five more heats Saturday, June 27, in Payson.

“Payson had no diving blocks, so the swimmers had to either start in the pool or dive in from the side [to] start,” said father Rick Dembow, who has signed up Lattanzi to next swim in long course regional competition Friday through Sunday, July 10 through 12, in Goodyear. “The competition will be much tougher, so that will be a big meet for him.”

Lattanzi’s wins in the 50-yard backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle and 100-yard individual medley moved him to a perfect 12-0 in his individual 10-year-old races with the Swordfish. He will attempt to continue his string, along with other qualifying members of the Sedona Swim Team, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Southwest Valley Regional Aquatic Center.

Also expected to participate are siblings Amy and Cody Brefeld, who also could boast first- and second-place finishes in individual events at the Payson Pikes meet. Amy, 8, and Cody, 11, would swim with the standard bearers for the Swordfish boys and girls teams — 12-year-old Andrew Tate and Emma Warner, 13.

Tate and Warner were the sole Sedona representatives at the Arizona Long Course Open in Tempe, where they placed in a combined 14 events.

For the full story, please see the Friday, July 3, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

Developing into a dramatically different basketball team than the one that struggled to a 10-15 mark last season, Sedona Red Rock High School ended six weeks’ worth of round-robin games against north central Arizona teams Tuesday, June 30, defeating Williams High School at home by 10 points.

Junior Walker Cox outfights the Payson High School post for a rebound. At 6 feet, 2 inches high, Cox, along with fellow junior center Dawson Stevenson, forms not only the tallest tandem of basketball players at Sedona Red Rock High School but the only returning underclassmen with any significant playing time from last season. The Scorpions ended summer games against the Longhorns and nearly 30 other opponents from north central Arizona and Phoenix with a 10-point home win Tuesday, June 30, over Williams High School.
Rebuilding from the loss of seven seniors with virtually no contributions from upperclassmen, head coach C.J. Sells embraced his second year of his second Scorpions stint by exposing 13 largely freshmen and sophomores to high-scoring offenses and pressing defenses.

Only in the past 10 days, after two- and five-game series of home games, has that young core caught up with the challenge.

“I really just want to train every day,” said point guard Chase Saczalski. “I’m trying to get better for varsity.”

Saczalski, along with fellow incoming sophomore guard Winston Cox and his older brother Walker in the post, have been Sells’ three best players this summer.

For the full story and more photos, please see the Friday, July 3, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

In the span of a year, another kind of wildfire in the Verde Valley swept through its sports landscape.

George Werner
At this time last summer, two Camp Verde athletes on the cusp of their final years of their high school careers were preparing to make history for two highly successful programs — girls basketball and wrestling.

In Cottonwood, Mingus Union High School was undergoing a transition to new coaching leadership in boys basketball, boys tennis and both swimming teams.

Sedona, too, was transitioning to new head coaches in charge of its high school football and both basketball programs. At the same time, head coach Manny Arias had just introduced the first professional sports team, the Sedona FC Strikers.

The spirit of 1776 — feelings of excitement, change and progress — was definitely in the air.

For the full column, please see the Wednesday, July 1, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

Sisters Liza and Mary Westervelt combined for 14 points in a summer road rout of Mingus Union High School on Wednesday, June 24.

Liza Westervelt, sophomore guard for the Sedona Red Rock High School girls basketball team, scored 14 points to help lead the Scorpions to a 50-33 win at Mingus Union High School and an unbeaten, 9-0 record in summer games. Westervelt and her sister, Mary, are the only two Northern Arizona players on the Arizona Select club basketball team for girls ages 15 and under.
The 50-33 win was followed by a 15-point triumph over an alumni All-Star team from MUHS and Camp Verde High School that elevated the SRRHS girls basketball team to 9-0 on the summer.

“Great win,” said father Kirk Westervelt, girls basketball head coach at Big Park Community School, who coached the Scorpions in the work-related absence of head coach Joe Donaldson. “I told the girls, if they keep playing like this, they can accomplish amazing things.”

Senior guard Annie Parrella led all scorers with 16 in the win over the Marauders, who were led by forwards Nieja Garner and Sharon Rehborg. They combined for 18 points but could not rally MUHS closer than within 14 points in the second half.

Despite going just one of four from the free-throw line in three trips, junior forward Hannah Ringel added 13, while guard Joanne Toscano chipped in seven points on three outside shots from the deep corner.

Donnie Buss, Angel Chavez, Tori Gillies and Angelyna Razo were among the alumni the Scorpions defeated June 24.

The week before, in Flagstaff, SRRHS also edged Winslow High School by five points and host Flagstaff High School by a bucket June 16.

For the full story, please see the Friday, June 26, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

The Sedona Red Rock High School football team rallied from a poor start to win its final two seven-on-seven games Wednesday, June 24, at Camp Verde High School.

Senior Derrick Johnson was quarterback for Sedona Red Rock High School during its final series of seven-on-seven games Wednesday, June 24. The series of two-hand touch football games, with seven players on each team, were hosted by Camp Verde High School, which edged the Scorpions by a touchdown.
After a one-touchdown setback to the host Cowboys and similar struggles with Bagdad and Winslow high schools, the Scorpions played “much better than the first three” games, head coach John Bradshaw said.

They would rally to edge Coconino and Flagstaff high schools by a touchdown, ending their June on a high note.

“It’s hard for a team to play badly and turn it around against good teams,” head coach John Bradshaw said. “So I feel they have some heart and desire which I can work with for sure.”

The Scorpions needed both of those intangibles after recovering to post a winning record in five games at CVHS with just 12 players on hand — and not even all of them at game speed.

“Coverage was good for the starters, but the linemen had a hard time,” he said. “We have a good set of seniors and a good core group.”

For more photos and the full story, please see the Friday, June 26, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

Three local swimmers won their age group as the Sedona Swim Team raised almost $2,000 Saturday and Sunday, June 20 and 21, from the Sedona Splash Weekend.

Carlos lattanzi, front, begins the Sedona Splash by diving off block four Sunday, June 21. Lattanzi, 10, won all of his individual events and was high-points finisher in his age group on his way to taking home seven first-place blue ribbons during the Sedona Splash.

“This is the most we’ve ever raised in a fundraising weekend,” said A. Jay Bronson, head coach of the Swordfish and Splash director. “Even though it nearly killed all of us — especially me — we’re most definitely committed to doing it again next year.”

That statement was only half-serious coming from Bronson, who had to coordinate a silent auction, raffle and dinner
June 20 as well as the first home U.S. Masters swimming meet June 21 when not coaching the Swordfish to second place out of five club teams at the Splash.

“There was a lot to do in a 24-hour period,” he said. “I want to blame the person that organized it, but that person was me.”

Although the total proceeds from a silent auction, raffle and U.S. Masters invitational are still being counted, Bronson could confirm that 85 tickets were sold to a poolside dinner June 20.

“This weekend was more about racing than anything else,” he said after 10 of his swimmers finished in the top three in their age group, including four wins from Carlos Lattanzi, Sarina McCullough, Andrew Tate and Emma Warner. “Even if we didn’t place overall as a team, winning all those high point awards — all of our kids placed really well at the end of the day.”

Catcher Angelo Alvarado knocked in the final Dirty Rats run in the bottom of the sixth inning Thursday, June 18, then caught the final out with runners on second and third base to hand Red Rocks Rotary its first loss of the Sedona Parks and Recreation department’s summer softball season, 3-1.

Christian Oles steps into a pitch and drives it hard for the Red Rocks Rotary in a game Thursday, June 18, against the Dirty Rats. Every Thursday night, Sedona’s adult slow-pitch softball league plays at the Posse Gounds Park.

“We called him the MVP of the game,” said Alvarado’s older brother, Santana, head coach of the Dirty Rats. “We have been surprised by the way our team has come together on short notice.”

Both teams had been stuck on a run since an Israel Martinez RBI in the first inning.

The win, combined with a 6-1 victory by A Day in the West over Big O Tires, knocked both Big O and Rotary from the ranks of the unbeaten — leaving Tortas de Fuego alone in first place following its doubleheader sweep of Another Team and the Mighty Ducks of L’Auberge de Sedona.

For the full story, standings and schedule, please see the Wednesday, June 24, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

The British have come again to Sedona.

Adam Nestor coaches local children during last year’s British Youth Soccer Camp at the Verde Valley School. The camp comes to Posse Grounds Park beginning Monday, June 22.
But it’s not quite an invasion, as three British soccer players and coaches will teach soccer at Posse Grounds Park as a series of games Monday through Friday, June 22 through 26.

“The word gets out about the British guys,” said camp director Tom Nisbett, who has coached since he was a 17-year-old playing “townie,” or semipro, soccer in Leeds, England. “This is what we’ve been playing our whole lives. It’s literally soccer or you don’t play anything in England, so we provide our own twist on it.”

More than 30 local children, ages 3 through 16, are expected at the camp, which will conclude with a game between attendees that is their World Cup, Nisbett explained.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, June 17, issue of the Sedona Red Rock News.

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