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Allyson Arellano had a busy summer, now that her sister is following in her footsteps.

The Mingus Union High School junior is practicing for the beginning of competition in her fall cross-country season Monday, Sept. 7, less than three months after bringing home gold medals in three events at the Arizona Junior Olympics and the USA Track and Field state championships.

“I really want to break 18 [minutes] in the 5K,” she said. “More long-distance, [but] I can run middle-distance, too.”

Arellano beat all other 15- to 16-year-old girls in the 800-, 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs at both meets. She was named USATF Athlete of the Week on May 12 for her state and regional cross-country championships and All-American honors at USATF nationals in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Not to be outdone, her older sister Karen took home a silver and a bronze medal, respectively, from the 800- and 3,000-meter runs in the 17- and 18-year-old girls division at Junior Olympics after winning the 1,500 and the 3,000 two weeks earlier at State.

“I feel like I’m on track with most runners that are my age,” she said. “I would like to break five minutes for the 1,500[-meter] this coming track season.”

For the full story and Aftershock fall schedule, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 26, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

Camp Verde Middle School football could use a return to the old days.

Assistant coach Jeremiah Littlepage, kneeling in the front, plays center to help the Camp Verde Middle School football team read his actions as well as his commands. The Cowboys, under head coach Brian Pelfrey, are practicing their first full week in helmets and shoulder pads in preparation for their first game Tuesday, Sept. 8.
That is the hope of 12th-year head coach Brian Pelfrey, whose Cowboys are finishing their first week of practices in full helmets and pads in preparation for their opening game Tuesday, Sept. 8, at Fountain Hills Middle School.

“It’s been a couple of years since we’ve won a game,” said Pelfrey, a sixth-grade science teacher at CVMS. “It’s not like the old days, where we could go out with 20 Camp Verde kids and march over 40 others.”

One of those players this fall looks to be eighth-grader Bailey Smith, an offensive lineman whose stepfather, Jeremiah Littlepage, is currently Pelfrey’s only assistant coach over a seven-game fall slate for the Cowboys.

Smith, who Pelfrey is looking at playing center as he decides which of a handful of quarterbacks is going to be his starter, is one of the only Cowboys to have played with CVMS since sixth grade. He was also the only player to accompany the Camp Verde High School football team to its California team camp the last week of July.

“I have to find a center who can snap the ball,” he said. “Long snapper will also be a search process. I’ve got a lot of kids out who played youth football a couple of years ago but are limited in what they can do because of their size and the number of bodies on the team.”

One of the primary responsibilities of whoever ultimately plays quarterback for the Cowboys will be getting the ball to eighth-grader Timmy Martin in space.

“Timmy tried his best and showed a little bit of potential at wideout for us last year,” Pelfrey said. “We may have to put him in different spots depending on the sets we run.”

Of the 26 players on the team, another whom Pelfrey could ask to try new things this fall, like play fullback, is defensive lineman Matt Munger — “our meanest guy” at a slight 94 pounds, Pelfrey said.

For the full story and schedule, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 26, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.

sophomore quarterback payton sarkesian scrambles to elude the rush of Sedona Red Rock High School senior Tim Hall and junior Danny Avelar, from right, during Camp Verde High School’s 20-13 opening road loss Friday, Aug. 21. Sarkesian kept the ball eight times, gaining 72 yards on the ground in the loss.

The morning after the cheers die down from the Mingus Union High School opener, fall’s opening weekend continues with three youth football games at Cottonwood Middle School.

The Cottonwood Wildcats run plays to prepare for the upcoming High Desert Youth Football season. The team is the oldest one in the Cottonwood-based youth football league, with its first game Saturday, Aug. 29, at 2 p.m. against Prescott.
Under new league president Danica Briseno, 155 players ages 6 to 14 years old have made this the biggest year ever for High Desert Youth Football.

“These are extraordinary numbers we were a little unprepared for,” said Briseno, who made the leap into her new position from cheerleading coordinator. “Last season, we had to actually close a team. We kept registration open a week longer than we normally do.”

Experimentations in new ways to register, such as on Facebook, also helped boost the numbers, along with booths at local restaurants, supermarkets, Dog Days in Clarkdale and Fourth of July.

There has also been word of mouth from a new flag football league, started by High Desert governing board members Becky Allred, Pete Kelly and Jose Zabala.

“We have an excellent board that has been advertising since the beginning of June,” Briseno said. “We had a lot of kids out there for our youth camp before the first week of school, but when they go to school they tell their friends they’re playing football, It’s wonderful ... absolutely exhilarating.”

Another 29 cheerleaders will rouse the fans of the Cottonwood Wildcats in their 2 p.m. opener Saturday, Aug. 29, at Cottonwood Middle School, following two games between four of the Minors and Mighty Mites teams which begin at 10 a.m.

Nick Dumford, a key to the Wildcats' season, takes the snap and opts for a running play.

For the full story and all youth football schedules, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 19, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

As the new athletic director of South Verde High School, Luke Hicks is jumping into the job with both feet — not to mention wearing at least three hats.

Luke Hicks, the new athletic director at South Verde High School, will also be coaching the Bulldogs’ two fall sports beginning Wednesday, Aug. 26, in the Camp Verde Town Gym. Cross-country will meet there for track runs beginning at 3:30 p.m., while Hicks will hold volleyball practice at the same time Thursday, Aug. 27. Openings on both teams are still available to students at SVHS.
Hicks, son of Camp Verde High School assistant girls basketball coach Steve Hicks, is also head cross-country and volleyball coach for the Bulldogs heading into the beginning of their fall sports season Wednesday, Aug. 26, holding 3:30 p.m. practices that will meet at the Camp Verde Town Gym.

“The volleyball coach from last year isn’t able to do it this year,” explained Hicks, 27, a paraprofessional at SVHS last year and former men’s volleyball player in South America, where both of his parents were missionaries before coming to Camp Verde in 2003. “I figured [coaching] would make the most sense, so I never actively went searching for a replacement.

“In the other sports, hopefully we can get a candidate to fill the positions. We have some pretty good basketball coaches; the softball coach has been doing it for a while, and the kids really like him.”

Hicks chose to be hands-on with both fall sports for the Bulldogs after he was recommended to succeed Laurie Kaaekuahiwi as SVHS athletic director by outgoing principal Steve King in July.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 19, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.

After coaching five fighters to gold medals at the Arizona state championships June 27, Brazilian jiu-jitsu trainer Ted Osburn is on the hunt for more state neckwear Saturday, Aug. 29.

Several students of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under trainer Ted Osburn, right, won gold June 27 at the Arizona state championships in Phoenix. From left, back row are David Taylor, 13, and Isaac McKean, 11; front row, from left, are Elias McKean, 9, Nathan Dixon, 9, and Stone Durkalec, 7.
Five of Osburn’s white belt fighters, including Mingus Mountain Wrestling Club head coach Klint McKean and several of his wrestlers, will return to Phoenix in search of their second golds in three months at the Arizona NoGi grappling championships.

“They’re still wrestling, but just in a different form,” said McKean, an English teacher and former wrestling coach at Mingus Union High School who first ran clinics with Osburn in the winter of 2011. “So it’s a nice change of pace. This offseason, I decided to put my boys in [jiu-jitsu] and it looked fun, so I did it.”

While McKean won his match on points to get gold in the 30- to 40-year-old age group in Ahwatukee, McKean’s son Isaac, 11, beat both of his opponents at 89 pounds by arm bar submission as well.

“It’s about positioning,” Isaac McKean explained his victories. “Getting people in the back.”

He would watch his little brother, Elias, rebound from a loss by points at 60 pounds to win one match by submission and another 26-0 to take the bronze medal among 8- to 9-year-olds.

“I’m really grateful to have Klint with us, because wrestling’s added a whole new dynamic to the training,” Osburn said. “These guys are so good at the stand-up [and] take-down game. The work ethic among a lot of these wrestlers raised the level for the rest of the kids in class. It makes everybody better.”

Sixth-grader Elijah Miller and fifth-graders Cameron Contreras and Kai Miller are other wrestlers who McKean has sent to train with Osburn when they are taking a break from the sport.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 12, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

Matt Mejia’s final year at Camp Verde High School is off to a better start than his previous finish, but nothing less than a second state championship in four years will satisfy the senior.

Team Chagolla’s Hayden Uhler, top, wrestled against Ryan Nava, from Bayfield, Colo. Uhler, a juinor at Camp Verde High School, won his second straight Weekend War
Already “absolutely focused” on a title for the last year, Mejia returned Saturday, Aug. 8, from a month of training at a national wrestling clinic in San Jose, Calif., six pounds heavier but no less dominant of his new weight class at Weekend Wars.

After a finish outside of the top three the last two years at the Division IV state tournament, Mejia won 10 matches Aug. 8 against players from around the state as well as California, Colorado and New Mexico.

“He crushed all the competition and showed he had ice water in his veins,” said Mario Chagolla Sr., Cowboys assistant wrestling coach and director of Weekend Wars. “College coaches from many different states are showing interests and making inquiries.”

Mejia took a scholarship from Carolyn Wester, director of Wrestling Prep in San Jose, Calif., and ran with it last month, defeating an elite national champion twice.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 12, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.

Lacrosse is not just a sport for Albin Haglund: It is truly a passion.

Albin Haglund, former head lacrosse coach at Arizona State University, is looking to introduce the sport to Verde Valley athletes at clinics in Cottonwood and Sedona. Haglund will be leading instruction at Riverfront Park on Mondays from 5 to 7 p.m., beginning Aug. 17.
Haglund, a 1976 lacrosse national champion and former head coach of the sport at Arizona State University, looks to introduce lacrosse to the Verde Valley with Monday evening clinics at Riverfront Park beginning Aug. 17, at
5 p.m.

“After playing many sports, this is the coolest game on the planet,” he said. “For the last five years, lacrosse has been the fastest-growing team sport in the U.S.”

Much of that growth is due to Haglund, who recently moved to Cottonwood from Scottsdale, where he claims to have introduced more than 3,000 boys and girls to lacrosse in the past 12 years through his own Scottsdale business, which outfits and promotes the sport.

“I did not pick up my first stick until I was a junior in high school,” he said. “Anyone can start at any age and excel at the sport. The playing field is pretty level here in Arizona.”

Haglund, 61, won his national title playing at Cornell University, where he was a three-year starter at midfield on a squad that went undefeated through 16 games.

He also has won world championships as recently as 2002 playing for the USA Stars in Perth, Australia.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 5, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

Camp Verde’s assassin is also its comeback kid.

Conrad Noone, right, a seventh-grader at Camp Verde Middle School, practices taking down Grand Canyon University incoming freshman Brian Dubasik. Noone and the rest of the New Breed Wrestling club practices for Weekend Wars by going over moves and maneuvers many times, adding the techniques to their repertoire to use during real matches. Noone has taken first place in his last two Weekend Wars after coming back from a broken arm which had sidelined him from the beginning of October through the end of April.
Conrad Noone, a seventh-grade wrestler at Camp Verde Middle School, continued his success July 25 at Weekend Wars with his second straight victory in the 135-pound weight class.

“We’re not going to have a lot of kids for middle school wrestling, so I’m trying to help my teammates as much as I can,” said Noone, whose father, Brady, is an assistant coach for Camp Verde’s pre-high school wrestlers in the New Breed Wrestling Club. “I want to do all the tournaments I can to better myself.”

Noone, nicknamed “The Assassin” by New Breed and Weekend Wars director Mario Chagolla Sr., also finished in first place after 10 matches July 11, marking his fourth top-three individual finish of the summer at the Sterrett Wrestling Complex.

“We’re just thankful for what this wrestling room’s provided for us,” Brady Noone said. “It’s brought our family closer together: The time that me and Conrad have been able to spend together and set goals has just been wonderful.”

Prior to those four finishes, Noone also took first place April 25 at West Coast Nationals in Las Vegas, his first meet since breaking his arm in October.

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Aug. 5, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.