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Summer’s end means not a final team bow for the Cottonwood Clippers, but a time for individual swimmers to meet their goals.

Zoey Arwine, 12, swims practice laps for the Cottonwood Clippers. Arwine and her sister, Hannah, ended their summer swimming season Saturday, July 25, in Payson while 26 other Clippers will swim Saturday, Aug. 1, at the Grand Canyon State Games.
With 57 swimmers up against only eight Payson Pikes at the more relaxed and casual meet Saturday, July 25, there were little other competitive goals to work for.

“Everyone gets a ribbon,” said head coach Daniel Nevarez. “We go over there, have fun, do a couple relays.”
Caleb Furey and Sean Williams teamed up for one of their events, swimming a synchronized 100-meter individual medley. They swam it in a time of 1:11.8.

“It’s kind of a way to get out there and have some fun while still swimming semi-fast,” Furey said.

Williams would also swim the 50-meter freestyle in 23½ seconds. He completed the 50-meter backstroke in just under 30 seconds, while swimming the 50-meter backstroke in 00:32.26 and the 50-meter butterfly in 00:26.12.

“And all that is without blocks,” Williams said. “It’s like a preseason game for football.”

For the full story with all local Grand Canyon State Games swimmers and more photos, please see the Wednesday, July 29, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

While all three recipients of the Division III, Section IV softball player of the year award were from the Verde Valley, only Camp Verde High School senior Paige Church can add more to her high school resume.

Paige Church, a senior at Camp Verde High School, fields throws to first base. Church was the second-best fielder in Division III, Section IV, and was one of three Verde Valley softball players to receive section player of the year honors.
“It was super surprising, especially to get it as a junior from a small school,” said Church, who, along with recent CVHS grad April Dodge and former Sedona Red Rock High School pitcher Emily Aitken, earned the award and was also named honorable mention all-Division. “I’ve played travel ball with Emily and April for a couple years and to be able to be compared with those girls is amazing because they have such great attitudes.

“There’s really no other way to describe it other than as an honor, definitely. All that extra work I put in the offseason paid off.”

For more than the past six years, that extra effort of Church, who currently holds a 3.65 grade-point average, has extended to not just the spring, or even late winter season preparations, but the whole year.

“It’s more than every inning,” she said. “Every single pitch, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes.

“That’s the thought process I want to get the girls in this year. No matter what happens, to feel like we did all we could to win the game. Not leave the field feeling like we lost just because we had a bad game.”

Church has been committed to softball at that level since she was playing softball for Camp Verde Middle School and for the Juggernauts, coached by her current Cowboys coach, Henry Smith.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, July 29, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.

After a slow start, recent Camp Verde High School graduate Danya Weir is returning home with more than $1,200 more for college.

Danya Weir, a recent graduate of Camp Verde High School, chases down a calf with lasso in hand at the Weir Ranch. Weir, a competitive breakout calf roper on rodeo scholarship to the University of Nevada Las-Vegas, remains in the hunt for the National Finals Rodeo in December after top-70 finishes in Durango and Norwood, Colo., and Rock Springs, Wyo.
In Durango, Colo., Weir roped two calves in less than 2½ seconds each for first- and second-place finishes after capturing two more college scholarships totaling $1,250 at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wyo.

“I wasn’t expecting those, so that helped out a lot,” Weir said of her scholarships, worth $500 and $750, respectively. “A little bit of nerves didn’t help, but I was definitely ready.”

Weir’s breakaway times Friday and Sunday, July 24 and 26, were 2.3 and 2.4 seconds, respectively, at the Durango Fiesta Days. She also posted a roping time of 3.2 seconds July 24 to finish sixth at the San Miguel Basin Fair in Norwood, Colo.

Those times put her back in the top 15 breakaway riders in the Grand Canyon Professional Rodeo Association. Such a ranking is a prerequisite to compete Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 3 through 5, in the National Finals Rodeo at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, where Weir will be attending in the fall on a rodeo scholarship.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, July 29, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.

The name may not stay the same, but Tom McCarty’s career path continues to follow in some familiar footsteps.

Tom McCarty, a recent graduate of Mingus Union High School, drives a double for the Marauders. McCarty led all Division II, Section V batters with a .556 average and 43 runs batted in. McCarty, like his older brother, Shaun, will play shortstop at Paradise Valley Community College.
He started at Mingus Union High School as “Tommy,” then grew into “Tom,” before becoming Thomas McCarty after being named to the all-Division II first team and the Section V Player of the Year.

“It’s always been Thomas,” McCarty said. “I’ve got to go with the name on my birth certificate.”

He will follow the name on an earlier birth certificate, attempting to beat out four other freshmen to start at shortstop at Paradise Valley Community College — just like his brother, Shaun, a two-time MUHS state champion shortstop.

“He got first team all-State and all-Section, but he never got section Player of the Year,” McCarty said. “The highest I got before this was all-section honorable mention, so I don’t know — something just happened. Going from that to playing in an all-star game was a dream come true.”

McCarty ended his senior season tied atop the divisional leaderboard with 43 runs batted in — helped by his three home runs that were second-most in the section.

“I couldn’t even tell you how I did it,” he said. “I guess the wind was blowing out on the right days for home runs.”

He blew up in his final season to score a section-leading 35 runs off of a .556 batting average, tying the MUHS record for triples in a season with eight.

For the full story and more photos, please see the Wednesday, July 22, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

In a seven-team race to win the Verde Valley Invitational, the Cottonwood Clippers got the sweep in before the strike.

Caleb Furey, 17, swims for the Cottonwood Clippers. Furey prepared for his Marauders senior season by finishing third among all 15- to 18-year-olds to help the Clippers win the Verde Valley Invitational.

Lightning strikes, to be exact, led the head coaches to agree to call the invitational Saturday, July 18, with the Clippers ahead in the boys, girls and overall categories.

With 250 swimmers from Bullhead City, Kingman, Payson, Prescott Valley and Sedona as well as the Sandsharks of Needles, Calif., involved, nobody wanted to take any chances.

“Five years ago ... it rained the whole time,” head coach Daniel Nevarez said. “But we never stopped the meet.

“When it comes to lightning, with it being so unpredictable and lives are at risk, we have to be overcautious.”

Zoey Arwine, Rylie Burke, Gunner Tillemans and Sean Williams led the Clippers with high-points victories in each of their age groups, as the Clippers swept the boys, girls and overall titles of the invitational.

“Having so many great teams here this year with amazing talent did make the competition a lot tougher,” Nevarez said.

For the full story with more photos, please see the Wednesday, July 22, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

The wrestler who does not wrestle with family, or against, is becoming the outlier at the Sterrett Wrestling Complex.

Brody Townsend, 11, an incoming sixth-grader at Camp Verde Middle School, wrestles for the New Breed Wrestling Club at Weekend Wars. Townsend pinned eight of his 10 opponents to win his fifth straight war in the 60-pound weight class July 11.

“Many of our wrestlers are brothers or sons of former greats, to continue what some consider the breeding of studs,” said Mario Chagolla Sr., director of New Breed Wrestling and Weekend Wars. “Standing there all alone without mama, papa or anyone by your side to help you do battle is overwhelming.”

Whether it’s Chagolla’s 195-pound son Favian — a Camp Verde High School freshman who finished first in his weight class — the five Uhler brothers, all but one of whom won their weight class, or Camp Verde Elementary School students Dale and Hunter Zellner, wrestling families owned the majority of Weekend Wars wins July 11.

One notable exception: Brody Townsend, a sixth-grader at Camp Verde Middle School, who emerged to pin eight of his 10 opponents for his fifth win in a row in the 60-pound weight class.

“Brody’s attacks have become more aggressive and yet [have] finesse,” Chagolla said. “He still gets frustrated when someone takes him down but is now able to channel all his energy and focus on the task at hand.

“The result is a technically sound beast [who is] extremely dangerous, coming at you ... to bring down the thunder.”

After finishing third in his initial Weekend War on March 23, Townsend pinned eight of his 10 opponents July 11 at the Sterrett Wrestling Complex to take his fifth win in a row at 60 pounds July 11.

“I wrestled 63 [pounds] — that was the lowest class there was,” he said. “I plan on wrestling 68.”

Third-grader Racer Uhler, at 50 pounds, introduced Townsend to his first coach in Chagolla on March 23, when he finished third in his Weekend Wars debut. He hasn’t finished lower than runner-up since.

“I just try my best every tournament and work hard in practice," Townsend said. "I wanted to start coming and try it out.”

Townsend credits much of his success to new moves Chagolla and other Camp Verde wrestling coaches have taught him to use on opponents, such as the cradle.

For the full story and Weekend Wars results, please see the Wednesday, July 22, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.

Shortstop Amanda Cannon doubled home third baseman Russ Hardy to cap a four-run comeback by Harris Garage Door, which secured the top summer coed softball seed July 15 with a 22-21 win over Cemex in nine innings.

Jennifer McDonald steps up to bat for Cemex, the second-place team in the Camp Verde coed softball league heading into the playoffs. McDonald and Cemex lost, 22-21, to first-place Harris Garage Doors on July 15.
Hardy was the last of four runs to score, all with no outs, for Harris, which avenged its only loss and dropped Cemex to 7-3 and second place in the league, presented by the Camp Verde Parks and Recreation department.

“We feel like we won that game three times,” said Lizbeth Fullbright, head coach and pitcher for Harris, which entered the bottom of the ninth down three runs. “It was pretty late by the time we were done.”

Harris can win the Camp Verde coed softball league crown for the third straight year if the team wins the championship, which will begin at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, at Butler Park.

“We’ve won championships before in Camp Verde — the core of our team was the same,” Fullbright said. “I know Cemex is very good and also very competitive, but if we’re hitting and we’re good on our defense, we’ll be good.
“Some nights, you’re just off or could go either way, but I have confidence in the team I have right now.”

Also scoring were Fullbright’s courtesy runner, Jamie Emory, Fullbright’s daughter, Cherise, and first baseman Chad Harris — son of company owner and team sponsor Jeff Harris.

For the full story and more photos, please see the Wednesday, July 22, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.

At Fort Verde State Park, everyone can travel back to 1871 to play baseball in its original form Saturday, July 18, at the Camp Verde Cornfest.

Zach Brutsche prepares to swing the bat for the Fort Verde Excelsiors in a vintage baseball game during Cornfest. The Excelsiors are looking for locals wishing to play old-time baseball at noon Saturday, July 18, at the Fort Verde parade grounds.
Scheduled for a noon start as part of the two-day series of events, the Fort Verde Excelsiors feature Fort Verde rangers, volunteers and other local players playing baseball just like enlisted men did 144 years ago on the fort’s parade grounds.

“It’s not a watered field,” said Robert Jennings, park ranger and center fielder for the Excelsiors. “If it was a dry season, it would be dusty; if it was monsoon season, it would be really green.

“It’s not chalked out. The horses ride on it and expose rocks, so they played rock patrol to keep the parade grounds clean. We pick up the rocks too and move them off the field, then just drop the bases at the right distance and play.”

Aside from the participation of women and lack of gloves, the rules are little different otherwise for the seven-inning contest.

For more photos and the full story, please see the Wednesday, July 15, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.

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