In the rise and fall of Arizona junior college football, the long fight continues

  • Slug: Sports-Arizona Junior College Football, 2558 words.
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Gannon Hanevold
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Hours before the final game of the 2017 season, Phoenix College football coach Robin Pflugrad made lunch for his team. The Bears were preparing to host the 8-1 Snow College Badgers, the second best team in the conference.

For lunch, they ate Uncrustables.

Pflugrad and his coaching staff bought the frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in bulk from Costco, and every coach brought a toaster from home to make sure they could efficiently thaw the sandwiches and feed every single player. Continue reading “In the rise and fall of Arizona junior college football, the long fight continues”

ASU men’s basketball players secure another free ride through new NIL deal

  • Slug: Sports-ASU NIL, 1,339 words.
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Derrian Carter
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Arizona State’s 600-acre campus in Tempe is home to more than 50,000 students, which creates traffic congestion that can be overwhelming. As a result, on-campus parking is at a premium.

To expedite his travels, incoming men’s basketball guard Desmond Cambridge weighed purchasing a bike or scooter before the fall semester. About the same time – to his surprise – State Bicycle Co. reached out about collaborating with him and his teammates, his brother Devan Cambridge and Warren Washington. The genuine interest from both sides sparked a name, image and likeness (NIL) partnership.

“It’s always been fun to watch them perform, and they entertain us, so I think they should be compensated, especially if they can help your business as well,” said Reza Farsi, COO and co-founder of State Bicycle. Continue reading “ASU men’s basketball players secure another free ride through new NIL deal”

Following in his father’s skates, ASU’s Josh Doan takes team captaincy in stride

  • Slug: Sports-Josh Doan ASU, 690 words.
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Danny Karmin
Cronkite News

TEMPE – Since Josh Doan stepped foot at ASU, success has followed him.

As a freshman on the men’s ice hockey team, Doan set two ASU single-season rookie records with 25 assists and 37 points in 35 games. The 20-year-old was invited to the 2022 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation camp this past summer. Oh, and he got drafted by his hometown Arizona Coyotes in the second round in 2021.

None of these accomplishments eclipse the honor given to him this summer, when he was named team captain along with graduate forward Demetrios Koumontzis and senior defenseman Jacob Semik’s selection as alternate captains. Continue reading “Following in his father’s skates, ASU’s Josh Doan takes team captaincy in stride”

Arizona Wildcats receivers catch on in quest to become the Pac-12’s best

  • Slug: Sports-Arizona Football Receivers, 2,000 words.
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Brendan Mau
Cronkite News

TUCSON – On the first drive of the game against Colorado, Arizona QB Jayden de Laura threw a quick backwards pass to freshman WR Tetairoa McMillan. McMillan looked down the field on the trick play to throw to an open receiver, but could not find anyone, so he ran to the other side of the backfield, looking like he was going to turn downfield, but then he checked down a pass to de Laura, who made a nice catch along the sideline for an 11-yard gain.

“I was like, ‘Throw me the ball, throw me the ball,’ and I thought he was gonna run, but he ended up throwing it to me,” de Laura said postgame. “And you know me, with the best hands on the team, I’m not dropping that.”

The player with the self-proclaimed “best hands on the team“ was the only Wildcat who caught a pass without a touchdown against the Buffaloes. De Laura ended the 43-20 win on 33-46 completions with 484 passing yards and tied the school record with six touchdown passes, both career highs for the sophomore in his first season with the Wildcats (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12), who face No. 12 Oregon this Saturday. Continue reading “Arizona Wildcats receivers catch on in quest to become the Pac-12’s best”

Promising future, storied past of Arizona hoops on display at Red-Blue Game

  • Slug: Sports-Arizona Basketball, 1.300 words.
  • 2 photos available

Brendan Mau
Cronkite News

TUCSON – Arizona men’s basketball coach Tommy Lloyd gave a sellout crowd at McKale Center its first look at a remastered Wildcats roster along with a glimpse into the program’s storied past during at Arizona’s annual First Watch Red-Blue Game on alumni weekend.

The Wildcats, who lost three players to the 2022 NBA Draft, rocked new uniforms that are a throwback to 1987-88, paying homage to the program’s first Final Four team that included NBA standouts Steve Kerr, Sean Elliott and Tom Tolbert.

“There’s a pride in wearing an Arizona uniform, especially (when it is from) back in the day,” said junior center Oumar Ballo. “Guys like Steve Kerr really set the tone for us, so we’re just proud to get a throwback jersey.” Continue reading “Promising future, storied past of Arizona hoops on display at Red-Blue Game”

‘Greatest show on surf’: Léon Marchand poised to be ASU’s next superstar

  • Slug: Sports-Leon Marchand ASU, 800 words.
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Joseph Eigo
Cronkite News

TEMPE – Arizona State University boasts some impressive names in sports, including baseball’s Barry Bonds and Reggie Jackson, basketball’s James Harden and golf major championship winners Phil Mickelson and Jon Rahm, to name a few.

The next household name to come out of ASU might just be on its Tempe campus right now, ready to explode on the world stage.

Léon Marchand, an Arizona State sophomore from Toulouse, France, already is making his mark on the NCAA and world swimming scenes and now is chasing a world record held by the biggest name in the sport – Michael Phelps. Continue reading “‘Greatest show on surf’: Léon Marchand poised to be ASU’s next superstar”

Drink and don’t drive: Phoenix Rising’s Pub 2 Pitch program shuttles fans to games

  • Slug: Sports-Pub 2 Pitch, 573 words.
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Ciaran Doyle
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – After rebranding from Arizona United SC for the 2017 season, the Phoenix Rising organization brainstormed opportunities to engage fans and the local community.

But lost in the team’s grand rebrand – a new team name, logo and stadium was introduced – is the Pub 2 Pitch Shuttle, which debuted in 2018 and offers a free shuttle to take fans from local bars to home games and back after the final whistle.

The idea came to fruition after fans urged the team for increased interaction, said Rising partnerships coordinator Jessica Newton, and the organization obliged. Continue reading “Drink and don’t drive: Phoenix Rising’s Pub 2 Pitch program shuttles fans to games”

‘Conquer that mountain’: NAU swimmer Emma Warner uses battle with cancer as motivation

  • Slug: Sports-NAU Swimmer Warner Cancer, 1,647 words.
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Madison Thacker
Cronkite News

FLAGSTAFF – Many preteens start middle school, host sleepovers and play sports at 12 years old. For Emma Warner, that age marked a dramatic life change.

As soon as Warner set out to chase her dreams of swimming at the collegiate level, she was stopped in her tracks. Her Cottonwood Clippers swim club teammates had noticed a lump in her neck. Warner was left puzzled and immediately scheduled a doctor’s appointment.

Ultrasounds, blood tests and a biopsy followed. On Jan. 15, 2015, Warner received the diagnosis: papillary thyroid cancer. Continue reading “‘Conquer that mountain’: NAU swimmer Emma Warner uses battle with cancer as motivation”

Thursdays with stories: Horizon football players make weekly visits to elementary schools

  • Slug: Sports-Horizon Players Volunteer, 747 words.
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Madison Thacker
Cronkite News

CHANDLER – From the moment he walks into Desert Shadows Elementary School , Tre Hickem is the most popular guy around.

Horizon High School’s assistant defensive line coach is greeted with high-fives and fist bumps from students that pass him in the hallway. Horizon football players follow him. It’s a typical Thursday during the regular season at another local elementary school in the Paradise Valley School District, where Hickem takes his seniors every week to spend time and make an impact with younger students. While Horizon searches for the second win in history against Pinnacle Friday, the kids come first.

“The message behind this is about making young men into men,” Hickem said. “Obviously, when they’re graduating next year, I want them to be accomplished, more than just not student-athletes of the game. Just to focus on other people.” Continue reading “Thursdays with stories: Horizon football players make weekly visits to elementary schools”

Mike Kraus adjusting well to college coaching in first year with GCU men’s soccer

  • Slug: Sports-Kraus ASU Soccer, 1,100 words.
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Nicholas Hodell
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – In the span of just a few months, Mike Kraus, the new coach of GCU’s men’s soccer team, has dealt with a variety of unique experiences. For starters, he had to figure out a way to build chemistry between 19 new players and the team’s returners. Then he witnessed the Antelopes’ stunning upset win over a highly-ranked team.

And then came another anomaly. In a non-conference home match against Santa Clara, Kraus dealt with an uncommon weather occurrence in Arizona: lightning.

Lightning in the area surrounding GCU Stadium on Sept. 9 produced a 90-minute show in the sky and delayed the game’s start time while keeping both teams in their locker rooms. As time passed – along with the storm – fans emerged from cover to witness the unfazed GCU warming up. Continue reading “Mike Kraus adjusting well to college coaching in first year with GCU men’s soccer”

Born without limbs, Carter Crosland defies the odds to inspire Wickenburg High School football

  • Slug: Sports-Coach Carter Crosland, 796 words.
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Remy Mastey
Cronkite News

WICKENBURG – On a steamy Thursday afternoon at Wickenburg High’s Wrangler Stadium, Carter Crosland is parked on the football field beside his players. The Wranglers football assistant coach observes practice in preparation for an upcoming game but keeps his interaction to a minimum, unless a player hangs off Crosland’s motorized wheelchair to catch a breather from the intensity of drills.

Time passes, and he taps a touchpad positioned by his right shoulder to change coordinates on the field as the practice unfolds in front of him. This is life for Crosland, who doesn’t have limbs, and he loves it.

“This is me, this is who I am, this is what I do,” Crosland said. Continue reading “Born without limbs, Carter Crosland defies the odds to inspire Wickenburg High School football”

Inside Zac Gallen’s career year for the Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Slug: Sports-Zac Gallen’s Season, 683 words.
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Keenan O’Rourke
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – In a season with many highs and lows, one variable has maintained success throughout the entire Diamondbacks season and that has been the dominance of Zac Gallen.

Gallen’s 2022 campaign has been the best statistical season of his career to date. Holding a record of 12-3, his 2.46 ERA sits as the sixth best in the majors and a WHIP of 0.89 only trails Justin Verlander (0.84) for the lowest in baseball. During the Diamondbacks’ 5-2 win in extras against the Houston Astros, Gallen tossed seven innings of two-run ball and struck out six batters in a no-decision.

“(Gallen) has been a consistent workhorse for us this year and has meant a lot to this team,” Diamondbacks Pitcher Ian Kennedy said. Continue reading “Inside Zac Gallen’s career year for the Arizona Diamondbacks”

Arizona high school football rises to the top (10)

  • Slug: Sports-Arizona High School Football 954 words.
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Nikash Nath
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – California, Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Texas are known for their Friday Night Lights, their fanatical football cultures, their mainlines to prestigious football powerhouses. Arizona, by contrast, has often gone under the radar when it comes to producing top collegiate and professional football talent.

That is rapidly changing. Arizona has five high school football recruits in the Top247 rankings, tying with three other states for the 10th spot in the country.

The players listed are tight end Duce Robinson (Pinnacle), cornerback Cole Martin (Basha), offensive lineman Caleb Lomu (Highland), tight end Jackson Bowers (Mesa Mountain View) and offensive lineman Elijah Paige (Pinnacle). Continue reading “Arizona high school football rises to the top (10)”

Vacation can wait for Diamondbacks catcher Cooper Hummel

  • Slug: Sports-Hummel Fall League, 916 words.
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Lauren Hertz
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – With the MLB season coming to a close, and the Diamondbacks officially knocked out of playoff contention, most players anticipate some time off from the game in October.

However, utility man Cooper Hummel sees the upcoming Arizona Fall League as an opportunity to show coaches his potential as a catcher.

Scheduled from Oct. 3 to Nov. 10, the Arizona Fall League has always served as a place for teams to send their top prospects to develop for an extra month before the offseason. Last Friday, the Diamondbacks announced Hummel’s participation after the regular season. While major leaguers have participated in the Fall League in the past, it is an anomaly for someone with Hummel’s level of experience. Continue reading “Vacation can wait for Diamondbacks catcher Cooper Hummel”

From Rising goalkeeper to Champions League: Josh Cohen thrives in new role

  • Slug: Sports-Rising Cohen Champions League, 515 words.
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Ciaran Doyle
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The big names come at him in a rush. Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar. It’s enough to cause any goaltender to flinch.

Not Josh Cohen. For the former Phoenix Rising FC goaltender, it was all part of the plan.

In 2009, Cohen was playing high school soccer for Bellarmine College Preparatory, a private Jesuit school in San Jose, California. Last Wednesday, he started for Israelian side Maccabi Haifa in a Champions League match against Paris St-Germain. Continue reading “From Rising goalkeeper to Champions League: Josh Cohen thrives in new role”

Did Chandler-Saguaro rematch serve as potential postseason preview?

  • Slug: Sports-Chandler-Saguaro Rematch, 600 words.
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David Rodish
Cronkite News

CHANDLER – Chandler High School has dominated the Arizona high school football scene for years. The Wolves won six championships at the highest level in seven years between 2014 and 2020, and was poised to earn a sixth straight and seventh in eight years, until Saguaro High School topped the Wolves in the 2021 Open Division Championship. It was a storybook ending for the Sabercats, and it showed that the titan of Arizona high school football was mortal.

Friday’s game was one of the most anticipated high school games in the state and country. The anticipation to see the new Chandler offense under junior quarterback Dylan Raiola was evident. Saguaro alum and Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy made an appearance, along with Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, running back Eno Benjamin and safety Budda Baker.

With an announced attendance of over 5,000, the home crowd was loud and ready for vengeance. And in front of a standout crowd for a rematch of last year’s championship, Chandler exacted a little revenge in a 31-21 victory on Arizona Avenue to improve to 4-0. Continue reading “Did Chandler-Saguaro rematch serve as potential postseason preview?”

A new look is coming to the Arizona Coyotes’ black Kachina jerseys this season

  • Slug: Gila River Coyotes Partnership, 549 words.
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Danny Karmin
Cronkite News

CHANDLER – A buzz of excitement spread throughout the Gila River Resorts and Casinos – Wild Horse Pass location Thursday.

Streamers and balloons filled the casino floor as a drumline of people marched down an escalator banging on their drums to orchestrate the occasion. The elation had nothing to do with gambling or blackjack, rather from a professional hockey team delivering some news.

The popular Arizona Coyotes’ black Kachina home jerseys are getting a new look for the 2022-23 season with the Gila River Resorts and Casinos patch. The Coyotes organization was live from the casino to announce a new multi-year partnership extension with Gila River becoming their official brand sponsor. Continue reading “A new look is coming to the Arizona Coyotes’ black Kachina jerseys this season”

What Arizona Diamondbacks fans gain from another losing season

  • Slug: Arizona Diamondbacks Affordability, 810 words.
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Tom Aizenberg
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – There’s an upside to the Diamondbacks’ lack of success. Baseball fans in Arizona don’t have to take out a second or third mortgage on their homes just to get good seats at Chase Field.

With their 81st loss of the season Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Diamondbacks were officially eliminated from the playoff race. This marks the 10th time in the past 11 seasons they’ve failed to make the playoffs.

Although they may not be elite when it comes to racking up runs (14th in the league), they are the most affordable team in baseball, according to Fan Cost Index, or FCI. Continue reading “What Arizona Diamondbacks fans gain from another losing season”

Talk of Robert Sarver, Jae Crowder define unusual Suns Media Day

  • Slug: Phoenix Suns Media Day, 700 words.
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Sam Stern
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – For a franchise coming off an extraordinary 64-win regular season, the Phoenix Suns faced an offseason that can best be chronicled as tumultuous and bizarre.

As with every season, media day marks the start of training camp, and for the Suns, it’s the end of what has been a story of plot twists.

From the glaring findings in the investigation of longtime Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver to the sudden departure of veteran forward Jae Crowder, the team has endured a multitude of issues as a franchise. Those issues and more were brought to focus in a very somber and serious line of questioning during Monday’s Suns Media Day. Continue reading “Talk of Robert Sarver, Jae Crowder define unusual Suns Media Day”

Footprint in the sand: AVP Tour makes indoor stop in Phoenix return

  • Slug: AVP Phoenix, 700 words.
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Nicholas Hodell
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Downtown Phoenix was alive with championship competition and a high-energy atmosphere for a long-awaited weekend visitor: the AVP Tour.

The top six men’s and women’s teams on the AVP Tour’s Gold Series marked professional beach volleyball’s return to Arizona with 14 matches in two days at the Phoenix Championships. But there was a major difference from previous AVP events held this season and in Arizona: The Footprint Center’s massive roof and video board hanging over the net.

Despite playing inside an arena that shielded players from the state’s extreme weather elements, Chase Budinger felt right at home. Continue reading “Footprint in the sand: AVP Tour makes indoor stop in Phoenix return”