Authors Articles byKatie Winkley

Katie Winkley

102 Articles 0 COMMENTS

by -

The Maricopa High School Rams girls softball team was unable to overcome tough pitching Thursday or control their defense, resulting in an 8-4 loss to Coolidge.

Maricopa struck out 17 times during the seven-inning game and had just one hit, a bunt in the sixth inning. The four runners who scored reached base on either a dropped third strike, walk or were hit by a pitch.

Defensive stats weren’t much better for the Rams in their first league game of the season. In the top of the first a mental error between the first baseman and catcher allowed the lead-off batter to reach base. A throwing error at second allowed the runner to score. Maricopa managed to take advantage of a Coolidge error in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game at one.

Rams pitcher Stacey Turley allowed just one base runner in the next four innings. Junior Jayme Kesler reached first on a dropped third strike and was able to advance to second, third and score on passed balls. The Rams were unable to score again after three more strikeouts ended the inning.

With two outs in the top of the sixth inning the Bears hit back-to-back singles bringing in one run and tying the game at two. After Turley walked a batter, another single brought in the second run of the inning to give Coolidge the lead. Maricopa managed to get an out on the next play to end the inning.

In the bottom half of the sixth senior Sara Schouten drew a leadoff walk. With catcher Jinger Kesler at bat, Schouten advanced tp second and third on passed balls. Jinger Kesler bunted to the third baseman who threw to first allowing Schouten to score. Another passed ball brought in Jinger Kesler and put the Rams on top for the second time.

The leadoff batter for the Bears walked followed by a miscommunication between Turley and Jayme Kesler that put another runner on base. After Jayme Kesler threw the next runner out at first, Turley made a throwing error on a grounder to the mound that allowed two runs to score. The next batter walked putting two runners on for the next Bear who hit a bases-clearing triple to center field. Shortstop Ronnie Cyr made a play at first for the second out but allowed the fifth run of the inning to score on the play. After an error at first and a hit-by-pitch, the Rams finally got out of the inning on a slow grounder to the mound and headed to the dugout down 8-4.

Maricopa ‘s offense failed to rally in its final at bat as all three batters struck out swinging.

The Rams will play at home Thursday against visiting Wickenburg.

If you go:
What: Maricopa High Softball vs. Wickenburg.
When: Thursday at 3 p.m.
Where: Maricopa High School 45012 W Honeycutt Ave.
Cost: Free

Photo by Katie Winkley

by -

Maricopa’s English Language Learning Coordinator Janel Hildick said she spends every day following the program’s goal to encourage a love for learning.

Although she is in her first year as the program’s coordinator, Hildick brings 14 years of education experience to the position. Originally from Tom’s River, N.J., she attended Georgian Court University where she majored in elementary education with a bilingual endorsement.

Now her priorities include creating a model ELL program for other school districts to follow, increase the academic achievements for the ELL students and earn her master of educational leadership from Arizona State University.

Hildick said her favorite part about her job is being part of a growing district in the midst of implementing a new program that is expected to improve student success in using English.

The most challenging part or her job is waiting for the improvements to happen, despite her understanding that a strong program can take up to three years to be effective.

When she has spare time Hildick said she enjoys traveling with her family and friends. She has lived in Maricopa with her husband and two children since August 2006.

Ignorance is one of Hildick’s pet peeves, and if she could finish the sentence, “in a perfect world,” she would say “Everyone would get along.”

For more information on the ELL program in the Maricopa Unified School District visit their Web site at

Photo by Katie Winkley

by -

The Maricopa High School boys basketball team finished their season at 3-9, an improvement from last year’s season-long shut out.

Head Coach Jack Berg said the team made progress this season by distributing the ball as well as attacking the opponent’s goal. As the team’s overall play improved, however, Berg noted that other teams in the conference also improved hindering the Ram’s chance of winning more games.

“The second half of the season is much more challenging with the elements as well as the improved play of all the teams in our conference,” Berg said.

One of the players who enabled Maricopa to get its three wins was freshman goalie Armondo Cano. Cano was the only freshman in the 3A South Conference to earn All Conference Team honors. Berg said he will look to Cano to anchor the team’s defense next year.

Another team member Berg said he is looking forward to having on the team another year is Irving Garcia, led the team in scoring goals.

Berg said most of the team is expected to return next year, and that promising JV players will fill in for the graduating seniors.

“Next season should bring greater returns, given our level of experience, the teams’ familiarity with one another and the desire to be a part of the post season experience,” Berg said.

File Photo

by -

The question remains whether to turf or sod the Maricopa High School football field, after members of the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board tabled the matter on Wednesday.

During the session, board members viewed a presentation explaining the financial aspects as well as use capabilities of using artificial turf on the new football field as opposed to grass.

Already budgeted for the redesign of the high school is more than $460,000 dollars to install an irrigation system and to sod the football field.

If artificial turf is used, the initial cost would be just shy of $1.2 million.

Financial Director Burnie Hibbard said the benefit of using artificial turf is the increased availability of the field, allowing multiple sports programs to use it for games and practices without risking damage. With sod, the field can be used no more than once per week to maintain it properly.

“At most high schools, there are at least two fields to be used for practice and games,” Hibbard said. “Since we do not have the space to build a second field, the football field needs to be able to accommodate multiple uses.”

If the space were available, Hibbard said the school would likely add a second field, increasing the budget to a comparable figure to the cost of the artificial turf.

According to the presentation, sod costs an estimated $1,500 per event, whereas the turf would cost just over $700. Board member Tim White did not agree with the numbers, stating they were based on the assumption that the turf would be used three times as much as the sod which likely would not be the case.

Hibbard assured White the field would be used quite often not just by the three football teams, but by the soccer teams and physical education classes.

During the presentation, the board viewed information about two options for the brand of artificial turf the school could use, although the presenters heavily favored Field Turf. Field Turf is used by professional sports teams for both practice fields and stadiums. According to the company’s Web site, Field Turf does not contribute to injuries associated with other types of artificial turf. Also noted during the presentation, student athletes would not be required to purchase special shoes for the turf, because grass cleats can be worn on the turf.

White said he is concerned with the high cost of the product compared to its durability under intense Arizona conditions. Board President Jim Chaston agreed, requesting that Don Brubaker, of Gilleland Brubaker Architects or Hibbard present the board with information regarding studies on the durability of the turf under Arizona’s weather conditions.

One drawback to the turf, as noted by Lars Erickson, who assisted Brubaker and Hibbard in presenting the information, is the fact that the temperature of the turf is generally 15 degrees higher than the air temperature. To combat this, Erickson said most people who use the surface, use a sprinkler system to cool down the turf. The amount of water used over the life of the turf is generally the same as the amount that would be used to maintain sod, Erickson noted.

After the board deliberated for several minutes, Chaston made a motion to table the vote until more information could be gathered and the board could make a more informed decision. Board member Shannon Johns seconded the motion that passed 4-0. Board member Shannon Amos was not in attendance.

File photo

by -

During the winter break, the Maricopa High wrestling team pinned down more than presents and food, winning five duel meets as a team and earning five top spots at the Marana Invitational tournament.

Of the 12 teams in the Marana High School Invitational Tournament held in Marana on Jan. 4 and 5, Maricopa (9-18) finished eighth as a team, but came home with one first-place award to Ty Mundt, and three second-place awards to Hunter Field, JD Masterson and Cody Seymore for individual honors. Also placing in the tournament were Mike DePaz (4th) and Frank Acuna (5th).

“We definitely made an impact at the tournament,” Coach Jason Burr said. “And I think we gained respect from the other teams.”

Burr said the other schools in the tournament were all strong teams, including Marana, a 5A division school.

During the tournament, and a meet at Canyon State Academy on Dec. 28, Mundt and Masterson each boosted a 10-1 record, bringing their season totals to 28-3 and 29-3 respectively. Acuna (24-6), Field (23-9), and Seymore (10-4) each added eight wins to the teams total over the two events.

“Everyone is doing really well,” Burr said.

According to Burr the team is going to “ramp up” conditioning for the remaining four events of the season before the regional tournament. From there, the top four wrestlers from each weight class go on to the state tournament.

“I think we have a really good shot for all of our wrestlers to make it to the state tournament,” Burr said.

A lack of wrestlers accounts for most of Maricopa’s team losses as they have had to forfeit several matches to teams with wrestlers in weight classes in which Maricopa does not have a wrestler. Despite this, Burr said he is pleased with the season so far and with the improvement the team has shown.

The team’s next meet is today at the Apache Junction High School Invitational.

File photo

by -

The Maricopa High School boys basketball team will grab their jerseys and jackets Monday morning and head to Flagstaff where they will play their first game of the playoffs.

After finishing the season tied for second place in their first year playing at the 3A level the Rams earned one of 16 playoff spots in Arizona’s 3A bracket.

Maricopa (15-9) will face Monument Valley from Kayenta, who finished their season with a 21-5 record and first place in the 3A North Region.

Coach Andy Branchik said he is looking forward to the game and added that he believes his team has a good chance of winning.

“If we play our game and take care of the basketball we definitely have a strong chance of winning,” he said.

Even before the playoffs begin Branchik said he is proud of his team’s accomplishments in their first season of 3A basketball. The boys basketball team is the only winter team sport to make the playoffs this year (wrestlers made the state championship tournament on an individual basis).

“We worked hard for this,” Branchik said.

He also noted that the players have not shown any sign of nervousness and more than anything seem excited to have chance to play at the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome at Northern Arizona University.

If the Rams win on Monday they will make the drive back to Maricopa for school on Tuesday and then go to Flagstaff one more time Wednesday for the second round of the tournament to face either Chinle or Tuba City High School, depending on the first game’s results.

If You Go:
What: Maricopa High Basketball vs. Monument Valley
When: Monday at 5:30 p.m.
Where: J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome at NAU South San Francisco Street, Flagstaff, AZ 86011

File photo

by -

Maricopa High School’s newest team won two individual matches and one doubles match Thursday at Yuma Catholic High School.

“We did really well individually,” Head Coach Paul Olson said.

Senior Kevin Ngai won the best two-of-three match in two straight games and also won an exhibition match in two games. Junior Jenny Lee also won both of her matches in two straight games.

Alex Buhisan, sophomore, managed to win his first set but then lost the next two which cost him the match. Buhisan and Ngai paired up for the doubles matches and beat their opponents in two sets.

Sophomore Kylie Johnson also competed but lost her match in two straight sets.

Olson said he is proud of the improvement the players have shown since starting practice and believes their success will continue.

Olson added that, unfortunately, because of the small number of players on the team, Maricopa was unable to qualify for a team win.

The Rams will get their next chance at success Thursday when they host Florence.

If You Go:
What: Maricopa High Tennis vs. Florence
When: Thursday at 4 p.m.
Where: Maricopa High School 45012 W Honeycutt Ave.
Cost: Free

Photo by Katie Winkley

by -

Six wrestlers will represent Maricopa High School this weekend in the Arizona State Championship Tournament at Arena in Glendale.

Ty Mundt and Cody Seymore each placed second in the 3A regional tournament Feb. 2 and Feb. 3. Joining them will be JD Masterson (3rd), Hunter Field (3rd), Frank Acuna (4th), and Xavier Hefty (4th).

Coach Tyler Brandt said he feels good about the conditioning and technical abilities of his wrestlers going into the state tournament. He also noted that despite the strong performance at regionals the teammates will have to be at their peak to win the state championship.

Brandt said the best part of the season has been watching the wrestlers technical skills grow.

“All of these wrestlers have improved in their positional wrestling as well as their arsenal of wrestling moves,” Brandt said. “They fight to the very last buzzer.”

He also applauded the wrestlers for their academic achievements as limited space due to construction has forced the team to practice late into the evening.

Each wrestler will have to win four straight matches to earn the championship. If at any point they lose a match they will wrestle in the lower bracket for third place.

File photo

by -

The Maricopa Unified School District will hold its first meeting of 2008 Wednesday night to address, among other things, the possibility of installing artificial turf on the Maricopa High School football field.

According to the request, the reason for installing artificial turf as opposed to grass is so other teams and sports can practice on the field without damaging it. The request states that limited space is available for fields with the redesign of the campus and the turf would allow for football and soccer to use the field regularly. Physical education classes could also use the field.

Beyond increased availabilty and durability, other benefits of the turf listed in the proposal include reduced maintenance costs and savings on water, the proposal states.

The board will also vote on the approval of $2,800 in donations to the district, as well as the addition of substitute teachers approved to fill in as needed.

During the study session before the regular meeting, the board will hear an update on the changes previously made to the before- and after-school program, as well as an update on the Special Education Department.

The study session will begin at 5 p.m. at in Room 1 at Maricopa High School on West Honeycutt Road west of North John Wayne Parkway. The regular board meeting will follow at 6 p.m. As with all such meetings, there will be a call to the public during which anyone can request to address the board with comments or concerns.

by -

Maricopa started off the sixth annual Matt Huffman Tournament by beating Casa Grande 6-5 in five innings today.

Because of limited field space and the large number of teams in the tournament, each game is limited to 90 minutes of play. As a result the Rams won in the bottom of the fifth after the go ahead run scored.

The Cougars opened the game by scoring a run off pitcher Matt Clark in the first inning. The Rams answered in the bottom half of the inning by scoring two runs of their own to take the lead. After a scoreless second inning the Cougars regained the lead in the third by scoring two runs on a Maricopa throwing error with two outs.

In the bottom half of the inning left fielder Matt Fieros hit a single to the left side of the infield. After stealing second and third base, Fierros scored on a single by catcher Cody Seymore to tie the game at three.

For the fifth time in four innings the lead changed in the top of the fourth when the Cougars rallied to score one run off a double to center and another on a sacrifice fly. Maricopa scored one run when Armando Cano singled bringing in Boston Friel in its half of the inning but was unable to get any more to regain the lead.

Maricopa managed to stay out of trouble in the top of the fifth, getting out of the inning without allowing a run to score. The Rams walked Seymore and earned another RBI by hitting a single to left bringing in Fierros. Later in the inning Justin Zabawa hit a single to right to score Seymore and give the Rams a 6-5 lead. Time expired seconds later ending the game and giving Maricopa the win.

The tournament continues throughout the day today, Friday and Saturday with the single-game elimination bracket starting Friday. Games are at Maricopa High School and the Ak-Chin Recreation Facility.

1 2 3 4 5 Final
Casa Grande 1 0 2 2 0 5
Maricopa 2 0 1 1 2 6

If you go:
What: Matt Huffman Baseball Tournament
When: All day Thursday and Friday; Saturday morning
Where: Maricopa High School 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.; and the Ak-Chin Recreation Facility
Cost: Free

Photo by Katie Winkley

by -

Senior Justin Zabawa scored 18 points propelling Maricopa to a 59-55 victory over Santa Cruz Valley Friday night.

The Santa Cruz Valley Dust Devils scored first and held a slim lead for most of the first quarter. With two and a half minutes left in the period, Zabawa stole the ball and took it down court for a layup, giving Maricopa the lead. The Rams (10-7) led the rest of the half and were up 24-23 at the break.

Head Coach Andy Branchik preached patience to his team at halftime.

Wesley Gonzalez scored nine points in the second half to help the Rams pull away from the Dust Devils and secure the win.

“The team did a very good job of forcing pressure on the other team toward the end of the game,” Branchik said.

The win was just the second in league play for the Rams, which entered the game with a 1-3 record against 3A South League opponents. Maricopa faces Florence, which also entered Friday with a 1-3 league record, Tuesday.

What: Boys Basketball
Who: Maricopa vs. Florence
When: Tuesday, Jan. 8
Where: Maricopa High School
Cost: $5 Adults, $3 Students

Photo by Jeremy Knop

by -

The second- and third-grade pupils at Santa Cruz Elementary taught the rest of the student body about gratitude, imperfection and responsibility today during a singing assembly.

Led by their music teacher, Mary Goldner, individual pupils introduced each song with a background or reference to the song’s meaning. During the song “Gratitude Attitude,” a group of pupils lined up and told the crowd what they are grateful for, including their teacher, pizza, movies, pets and weekends.

In between the life lessons pupils also proclaimed their love for pizza in the song “Pizza Love” to the tune of “My Girl.” A group of pupils donned chef hats and danced with pizza boxes at the front while the rest of the group performed choreographed movements to go with the music.

Also in the lineup were songs about being American and taking responsibility for one’s actions.

Every pupil in attendance was invited to join in for the last two songs when the second- and third-graders sang the “Santa Cruz Rap” and “Santa Cruz School Song.”

The pupils will perform again at 6 p.m. for those friends and family unable to attend the morning show.

If you go:
Santa Cruz second- and third-grade music program “I’m Grateful”
When: Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Where: Santa Cruz Elementary 19845 N. Costa Del Sol
Cost: Free

Photo by Katie Winkley

by -

The Rams fared well in a recent track competition.

Maricopa High School sophomore Brittany Parks had no trouble switching from basketball to track when she won the 100- and 200-meter dash Feb. 27 in the opening meet of the season.

Parks finished the 100-meter dash in 12.38 seconds and 200 in 25.89 seconds, both of which were faster than her times in last year’s Tournament of Champions competition.

The first-place finishes were the only wins for Maricopa at the Wickenburg Multiple, but the girls team did have five top-four finishers.

Crystal Neal finished third in the high jump and fourth in the shot put; Alyssa Joaquin finished third the 3,200 meter race and fourth in the 1,600 meter event; and Opal Vaughn finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles.

The high school’s boys team was unable to win an event but placed second in both the 4×800 and 4×100 relays. As an individual, Vince Bailey placed fourth in the 100 meter dash, Dominique Johnson finished fourth in the 400 meter event, and J.J. Pearson came in second in the 300-meter hurdles.

Both teams finished fourth out of eight teams overall.

On Wednesday, the team traveled to Globe for its second meet, and will compete in the Ray Relays in Kearney on Saturday.

File photo

by -

Maricopa’s baseball team won its first home game of the season Monday beating South Pointe 13-1 in five innings.

The game was also the first played on the newly constructed diamond which will eventually be used for junior varsity games once the second field is completed.

The Rams dominated the game after the top of the first when South Pointe scored its only run. Maricopa answered by scoring three runs in the bottom of the first and then held off the Griffins offense in the top of the second and third to keep the score 3-1. The Rams broke the game- open in the third inning scoring 10 runs off three doubles and several passed balls by South Pointe’s catcher.

Cody Seymore continued to dominate South Pointe with his pitching keeping the Griffins from reaching base in the top of the fourth. After Maricopa was unable to reach base in the bottom half of the inning, South Pointe came up to bat for its last chance to keep the game going. The rules state that any team up by at least 10 runs after five innings wins and the game is stopped. Freshman J.C. Seymore struck out two batters and got the last out on a grounder to second to finish the top of the fifth and secure the win for the Rams.

During the past weekend, Maricopa didn’t have as much luck in the Joe Padilla Tournament beating San Manuel 3-2 in their first game then losing Bisbee 8-2 and Florence 6-5.

This weekend the Rams will host the Matt Huffman Memorial Tournament at Maricopa High School. Game times and dates will be announced.

1 2 3 4 5 Final
South Pointe 1 0 0 0 0 1
Maricopa 3 0 10 0 N/A 13

Photo by Katie Winkley

by -

Maricopa’s basketball team made it a game the graduating seniors will likely always remember, beating the Globe Tigers in the final seconds of the game 54-51.

Going into the game the Rams and Tigers were tied in league play for third place and in their last meeting Maricopa handed Globe a 20-point loss.

The Rams took an early lead scoring four points within the first two minutes of the quarter and increased their lead to 8 by the end of the first period. In the second quarter the Tigers allowed the Rams only six more points while scoring 14 of their own to bring the score to 23-23 going into the half. Maricopa struggled with three point shots all night causing the low score in the second half.

Maricopa gained the lead back in the third quarter and accumulated a seven-point lead with two minutes left. But the Tigers did not give up and scored nine points, including a lay-up at the buzzer to grab the lead at 41-39.

In the final period the Rams scored on their first possession to tie the game at 41. After trading baskets Maricopa managed to grab 5 unanswered points courtesy of a three point shot by Cullen Teller and two free throws from Justin Zabawa to put them up 48-43 with four and a half minutes left. But for the next two minutes the Tigers managed eight points in a row and took the lead away from the Rams for what would be the last time.

Teller was fouled and made one of his two free throws to bring the Rams within two and only 90 seconds left on the clock. Thirty second later Teller stole the ball and took it down court for a lay- up to tie the game at 51. Jewuan Crosby rebounded a missed free throw by the Tigers and passed the ball to Zabawa who sunk a three pointer to give the Rams the lead with just 40 seconds left. Globe called a time out with 16 seconds left, but the break didn’t help. The Tigers missed a shot and Maricopa held on to the ball until the buzzer sounded.

Coach Andy Branchik said the win proved what he has been trying to teach his team.

“They showed that even though they are tired they will not break down and they will knock down a shot or make a big steal,” Branchik said.

Branchik also noted that the team has come together and if they win at Florence on Tuesday should expect a good seed in the playoff tournament.

The win put the Rams in a tie for second place in the 3A South division and a win at Florence could give them sole possession of second if Coolidge loses. Following the Florence game the Rams will start the playoffs Feb. 11.

Before the game, Head Coach Andy Branchik honored his seniors as well as his staff. Justin Zabawa, Will Clemans, Tay Orr and Mike Brown walked to center court with the parents to receive recognition from the fans. Branchik thanked the athletic trainer, his score keeper, and the team’s water boy, fourth grade student R.J. Fawcett who was presented with a basketball signed by the team.

After the game, each member of the team cut of a piece of the net as a keepsake. Branchik noted the game might have been the last played in the gym of the renovations are complete before next year’s season starts.

File photo

by -

The matron of the Estrada family and co-owner of Estrada’s Café says she enjoys the community of Maricopa, a place she’s happy to live after having lived most of her life in Los Angeles.

Diana and Jesse Estrada and their seven children moved to Maricopa in 2005 in hope of finding a better life for their children and to open a business of their own.

Diana Estrada said they’ve found both.

That doesn’t mean they’ve struck it rich. A good day at work means taking the equivalent of one Ben Franklin out of the cash register.

“If I make $100 a day I’m happy,” Diana Estrada said.

The dream of owning their own business became a reality for Jesse Estrada and Diana Estrada when they found the café location just south of the railroad tracks. Originally the couple planned to move into an open store in the Stage Stop Shopping center but plans fell through.

Now the family owned and operated business has adopted most of the menu of the former café, Trax, and added a variety of Mexican food choices.

Diana Estrada said her vision for the business is for it to become an after-school stop where students can grab an inexpensive and healthier meal than what they could typically get at fast food restaurants. Some of the menu items include tacos, hot dogs and burritos – all for less than $2.

She added that many customers still come regularly for the coffee, but some have started adding new menu items to their order.

Besides the regular café business, Estrada’s also caters small events.
As long as she has advance notice, Diana Estrada said the business can cater most events. Estrada’s prepared 160 meals consisting of hot dogs and nachos, for example, for the staff at Maricopa High School during staff appreciation week.

Besides fulfilling her business dreams, Diana Estrada is a nurse in the Maricopa Unified School District and hopes to work full time at Butterfield Elementary School once it opens. Her husband, Jesse Estrada, is employed at the Wal-Mart distribution center in Casa Grande but has been unable to work since he had heart surgery in September. He is able to help out at the café and hopes to return to his full-time job soon.

In the meantime, the Estradas try to balance business and family affairs for their household of nine. With seven children between 2 and 15 – including several of whom are active in community sports – the Estrada family rarely runs out of things to do.

Although they try to make sure the practices, games and church activities don’t interfere with the café’s hours, Diana Estrada said there are times when they have to close the restaurant on short notice. Diana Estrada said she apologizes to her customer’s for any inconvenience the sudden closures might create.

Through hard work and dedication, Diana Estrada hopes to run a successful business. She understands, however, that it isn’t entirely in her hands.

“Most people in Maricopa spend their money in Phoenix and Chandler,” Diana Estrada said. “And no small business is going to make it without the community’s support.”

Photo by Katie Winkley

by -

The Maricopa Wells Middle School softball team finished its regular season Thursday night with a 13-3 win over Toltec Middle School bringing their season record to 7-0.

The winning streak goes much further than this season however, when the panthers were perfect in 2007 and lost their only game of the 2006 season in the championship game. Last year they were able to claim the championship. Team members hope to defend their title this year.

In her first season as head coach, Melissa Buck said she was nervous going into the season from the pressure to continue the success the team had in recent years. But the abilities of the team helped to ease her nerves as the season progressed.

“The girls are fantastic all around, which made the pressure easy to deal with because of the confidence and fun I have with this team,” Buck said.

She added that the team is a star as a whole with no particular player who is better than the rest.

Besides winning all of their games so far, another positive for the girls has been the ability to play on their new field at Wells.

“The new field has meant a lot to us and we really take pride in it,” Buck said.

At the beginning of the season, Buck noted that the girls seemed to be most excited about having sliding practice on the new, soft dirt.

The Panthers will be doing more sliding on Monday during their final practice before the semi-finals. Because they finished in first place during the season, the girls will face the fourth place team, Gila Crossing Middle School. If they win, the Championship game will also be held at Wells on Thursday.

If you go:
What: Panthers softball semi-finals
When: March 3 at 4 p.m.
Where: Maricopa Wells Middle School 45725 W. Honeycutt Ave.
Cost: Free

    by -

    The city of Maricopa and Community of Hope Church are in talks to make a deal that would add 10 acres to Pacana Park and deliver an unknown dollar amount in real estate sale profits to the church.

    On the South end of Pacana Park is a 15-acre lot where the Community of Hope congregation plans to build a church where it will then move its services to from Pima Butte Elementary. The church would be west of Porter Road and north of Adams Way.

    Community of Hope representatives plans to use no more than five acres for their church, which led them to offer the city the chance to buy the remaining 10 acres to their immediate north in what is believed to be a double-escrow transaction, yielding an immediate profit for the church and an immediate transfer of land to Maricopa, according to public statements made at a recent Parks, Recreation and Libraries meeting.

    The exact dollar amount of either of the two proposed land-purchase transactions have not yet been released.

    The extra land could mean two lighted fields for soccer and football for the park and an additional 150 parking spaces for use by Pacana Park, Parks, Recreation, and Libraries Director Marty McDonald said in a recent PRL meeting. McDonald also said the second softball field at the park would be retrofitted to match the original field.

    “We still have not reached agreement on the terms of sale, no contract exists at this time and I highly doubt we’ll be on the Feb. 5 agenda,” McDonald said in a written statement to the media. “The land deal needs to close and then the next step is to go bid for engineering services. A lot has to happen before construction begins.”

    Details regarding how the city and church might share parking spaces and a proposed community center were not immediately available.

    Community of Hope’s lead pastor, Rusty Akers, declined to comment regarding either sale until after the close of escrow.

    Submitted image

      by -

      In a familiar sight for Maricopa the past few months, city and education officials joined the public for a ceremonial school ground-breaking Friday, this one for a new middle school in the Tortosa community.

      Superintendent Dr. John Flores said he is grateful for what Maricopa Unified School District has and what they have been able to do. He also stressed the importance of facilitating the success of students in Maricopa.

      “The students here in Maricopa are our future,” Flores said.

      Mayor Kelly Anderson echoed Dr. Flores’ comments and congratulated the school district on its vision for Maricopa and its future. Anderson noted that this ground-breaking was particularly special to him because the location used to be his family’s farm land.

      McCarthy Construction’s John Nesbitt informed the crowd that the construction team is hoping to complete the first phase of the school, which includes 31 classrooms, by Aug. 1. The rest of the school is expected to be finished by November.

      In closing, architect Don Brubaker of Gilleland Brubaker Architects reminded the crowd that with so many schools currently under construction, it is critical to remember that each one is important and should be maintained as such.

      In November, ground-breaking ceremonies were held for two new elementary schools and the reconstruction of the high school.

      Photos by Katie Winkley

      Note: For additional information on MUSD’s plans for new schools, read the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of 85293 The Magazine, which will be available online and in residents’ mailboxes this week.

      by -

      Maricopa High School’s tennis team was unable to nab a single victory against Antelope last week, losing all six of its matches.

      In the singles matches Alex Busihan and Kevin Ngai both lost in two sets. The two also lost their doubles match 8-1.

      For the girls, Jenny Ly and Kayla Kasten also lost in two sets and were defeated 8-3 in their doubles match.

      It’s all in keeping with expectations, however, because at the beginning of the season Head Coach Paul Olson said this year’s focus would be on learning the fundamentals of the game and not necessarily winning matches. The team is still working with tennis pro Marvin Jensen to master the skills needed to win.

      The Rams face Estrella Foothills at Buckeye High School on Tuesday.

      If you go:
      What: Tennis vs. Estrella Foothills.
      When: Tuesday, April 1. Time unavailable
      Where: Buckeye High School, 902 Eason Ave., Buckeye.
      Cost: Free

      File photo

      by -

      The regular wrestling season came to a close last weekend when six Rams finished in the top three at the Bourgade Invitational Tournament.

      JD Masterson, Hunter Field and Travis Moore all came home with first place honors, Cody Seymore earned second place and Frank Acuna and Xavier Hefty won third place.

      Junior Masterson finished his season with a 45-4 record and now hopes to add a state championship to his list of accomplishments. Even bigger goals for Masterson include a national title and scholarship to wrestler in college.

      He and the rest of the Rams will get the chance to earn their spot at the championship tournament when the regional competition is held in Safford on Saturday. The top three wrestlers from each weight class will move on to the championship which will be held Feb. 8 and 9 at Arena.

      “I’m anticipating a real good turnout,” Coach Jason Burr said.

      Burr added although the team did not win enough dual meets to earn a spot at championships as a team he is confident all of his wrestlers will make it as individuals.

      The Rams accumulated a combined record of 217-73 for the season lead by Masterson (45-4), Ty Mundt (40-4), Acuna (36-12), Seymore (23-7), and Field (35-13).

      Submitted photo

      by -

      The Maricopa High School boys basketball team won its first five games in the Copa Hoops Basketball Tournament Thursday and Friday but lost to Skyline, which also ousted the Maricopa girls’ team (see “Lady Rams win 3 games, lose in 2nd round of tourney“), in the championship game 52-41.

      Maricopa went 3-0 on Thursday, beating Seligman, Gila Bend and Academy of Tucson, and then started off Friday beating Ajo to finish the round robin and beating Academy of Tucson again in the first round of the single-elimination bracket.

      The championship pitted two undefeated teams against each other, 3A Maricopa and 5A Skyline. According to Head Coach Andy Branchik, the Rams had a slow start but were able to overcome it and stay in the game.

      “The kids played hard, with a lot of intensity,” Branchik said.

      Branchik said Skyline’s key three-point shots prevented the Rams from cutting the deficit to less than five points.

      Maricopa (9-7) continues league play Friday at home against Santa Cruz Valley.

      IF YOU GO:
      What: Maricopa Boys Basketball vs. Santa Cruz Valley
      When: Friday, Jan. 4, 7p.m.
      Where: Maricopa High School
      Cost: Adults $5, Students $3

      Photo by Jim Vigileos

      by -

      Taco del Mar could return to Maricopa after a series of events that led to the closure of the Mexican food restaurant and the Arizona Dave’s restaurant that briefly replaced it at 21101 N. John Wayne Pkwy., Suite E105.

      Maricopa’s original Taco del Mar franchisee, Kim Hoffman, sold the restaurant to local real estate agent Dave Zaiser this fall. Zaiser ran the Taco del Mar franchise for several weeks before converting it to a restaurant called Arizona Dave’s, serving hot dogs and barbeque.

      According to Taco del Mar Area Developer David Moore, Zaiser’s termination of his franchise agreement was a violation of the lease with landlord Barclay Group, leading to the abrubt closing of Arizona Dave’s.

      “The lease said that no name change or business change is permitted without the approval of the landlord,” Moore said.

      Barclay Group placed Arizona Dave’s in default, forcing Zaiser to close the new business shortly after it opened.

      Moore said, “We had a very naive franchise owner who decided to invent their own concept.”

      Zaiser did not respond to multiple calls seeking comment.

      Moore said his company will decline ownership if Zaiser attempts to reopen, but Moore is attempting to re-acquire the location and equipment from Zaiser and open again as Taco del Mar. Moore has set a deadline of Friday for an agreement with Zaiser. If an agreement is made, Taco del Mar could reopen within two months.

      “I have a good relationship with Barclay, and I would like to stay there,” Moore said.

      Moore has three alternative locations in mind and is accepting applications for a new franchisee.

      “Maricopa is a good location for this franchise, and we will definitely be back,” he said.

      Photo by Katie Winkley

      by -

      The Maricopa High girl’s basketball team scored just two points in the first three quarters against Coolidge High School Tuesday night and lost to 70-17. The blowout extends Maricopa’s winless streak to six games to start the season.

      Maricopa (0-6, 0-2) grabbed the opening tip but managed just one field goal by Marrisa Lubag in the first quarter. The Rams were held scoreless in the middle quarters and entered the fourth period down 52-2.

      “This game was about heart,” Coach Jenn Miller said. “And we didn’t find ours until the fourth quarter.”

      During the final eight minutes, Brittany Parks scored nine points for the Rams. Lubag added four to her total and Andrea Esposito scored two points accounting for all the Rams’ scoring.

      In addition to the team’s troubles making shots from the field, the Rams made just one of 11 free throw attempts. According to Miller, a priority for the team will be to start taking good shots.

      “This could be a pivotal game for us,” Miller said. “Either the girls will realize they aren’t satisfied with themselves and make something of this season, or they will decide this really isn’t that important and give up.”

      Miller said she knows her girls well and believes they will choose the first option.

      The Rams next chance to break into the “win” column is Wednesday against South Pointe, the team’s last non-conference game of the season.

      IF YOU GO:
      What: Maricopa High Girls Basketball vs. South Pointe
      When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13
      Where: Maricopa High School
      Cost: $5 Adults $3 Students

      Note: This game was recently added to the schedule and, according to Coach Miller, could be moved to an away game. Please contact the school at (520) 568-8100 for updated information.

      Photos by Mandy Hank

      by -

      At a recent Parks, Recreation and Libraries special advisory committee meeting, J2 Engineering, the firm hired by the city to develop a parks and open space master plan, revealed the results of a survey soliciting the top recreational priorities from residents.

      At the top of the list for residents was a water play area, followed closely by playgrounds for kids and a community center.

      The survey was conducted at last month’s Founder’s Day and, according to J2 Engineering’s Dean Chambers, the response of 285 surveys was the largest he has seen for a survey of this type.

      Chambers also noted that it was the first time in his experience that unpaved trails were not at the top of the list.

      The survey was the first step in the process to develop the parks, trails and open space master plan for Maricopa over the next few years.

      A public open house to discuss the findings of the survey is the next step and will be an excellent opportunity to get additional feedback from residents.

      After the open house J2 Engineering will develop the first draft of the master plan, which will then be presented to the public before the final draft is created.

      Photo by Katie Winkley

      by -

      Maricopa High cross country is off to the races as a new season is unfolding on the local scene.

      After a slow start, the Rams are ready to win.

      “I’m excited to work with a full team this season,” Coach Duane Anderson said.

      To start the school year, the roster was too short to qualify as a team for competition, but Anderson was able to round up what he feels is a great group of kids to fill the list. Within two weeks, Anderson hopes to have a full team of seven girls and six boys competing in meets. Currently there is only one girl competing.

      When there aren’t enough people to compete as a team, runners can still race for individual honors, as the few Rams who started the season have done.

      Maricopa will run in the Lions Invitational at Ojo Rojo this Saturday.

      “It was a little frustrating to start another season without a full team,” Anderson said.

      Now that his original goal of filling a team has been met, Anderson is looking to make the state meet, where the top teams from each division compete.

      “They’re all working hard, and I know that if we keep improving the wins will follow,” Anderson added.

      If interested in seeing the Rams in action, Maricopa will be hosting a meet at the Duke on Sept. 26 at 4 p.m.

        by -

        The two phases of State Route 347’s resurfacing project could last until spring 2008, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).

        ADOT’s Public Involvement Officer, Bill Pederson, said the highway’s re-paving up to Riggs Road is complete, but the rubberized asphalt surface still needs to be laid. Paving of the project’s second phase, from Riggs Road to I-10, should be completed today.

        Phase one, a $5.8 million project, includes resurfacing the northbound and southbound lanes between Maricopa and Riggs Road. The surface may be laid this year, if the warm weather continues. If not, Pederson said the paving will be completed next spring.

        Phase one also includes a signal at the Casa Blanca Road intersection on SR 347. According to Pederson, the foundation for the signal poles is complete and the light could be installed and functioning in two weeks depending on the delivery of materials.

        Once paving is complete, construction will begin on a dual left turn-lane for northbound traffic merging onto the westbound I-10. With a four-month construction period that started in mid-October, the estimated completion for the $3.2 million phase two is early February.

        “The construction is currently on schedule,” Pederson said.

        by -

        The Maricopa High girls soccer team gave up eight goals in two losses last week and lost its leading scorer to boot.

        On Monday, the Rams visited Antelope for its first conference game of the season. The team came out strong, scoring three goals and shutting out the Antelope Rams in the first half. But a breakdown in defense allowed Antelope to score four unanswered goals in the second half and claim a 4-3 victory.

        Maricopa’s leading scorer, Caroline Fayen, scored earlier in the game but then injured her knee, tearing the anterior cruciate ligament. Coach Jason Burr said the doctor has yet to decide whether she will be able to come back this season or if she will need immediate surgery.

        In the second game of the week, a schedule mix-up forced the Rams to play a shortened game of 25-minute halves with practically no warm up. Fountain Hills scored easily off the unprepared team, making four goals in the first half.

        “At halftime, I told the team we could not allow them to score one more goal,” Burr said.

        Fountain Hills did not score another goal in the second half as Burr asked, but neither did the Rams, resulting in a 4-0 loss.

        The losses leave the Rams with a 1-3 record.

        Burr said he is working with the team on increasing its intensity along with the continuous effort to improve the defense.

        “We have a lot of young players, which will be great in the future.” Burr said. “But we are still trying to get something going this season.”

        Burr said he will move some players around on the field in order to spark the defense for the next game, which is Wednesday against Yuma Catholic.

        IF YOU GO:
        What: Maricopa High Girls Soccer vs. Yuma Catholic
        When: Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 6 p.m.
        Where: Maricopa High School
        Cost: $5 Adults, $3 Students

        by -

        Have you ever thought about what recreation facilities you would like to see come to Maricopa? If not, now is the time to start.Have you ever thought about what recreation

        The Parks, Recreation and Libraries Department (PRL) is asking the citizens of Maricopa to speak up about what they want in the Parks, Trails and Open Space Master Plan.

        According to PRL Department Director Marty McDonald, the Master Plan will serve as a guide to the department to help determine staff, funding and the direction of Maricopa’s recreation for the next several years.

        “With this plan we will be able to determine what elements we need to create the recreation facilities that the people of Maricopa want,” McDonald said.

        As suggested in the title of the Master Plan, parks and trails are some available options, but the open space section is where Maricopans can use their imagination.

        “Open space can mean many different things, from sports complexes to aquatic centers to indoor facilities,” McDonald said.

        Other ideas include dog parks, running/walking trails or indoor basketball courts.

        McDonald said the most important aspect is finding out what open space means to the citizens of Maricopa.

        In order to help develop the Master Plan, consultant J2 Engineering will be working with the PRL Department to obtain the city’s input.

        J2 Engineering is a local company that has experience in creating master plans for parks and recreational facilities. Some of the local facilities J2 has worked on include the Cosmo Dog Park in Gilbert and Playtopia in Chandler’s Tumbleweed Park.

        Once the information is gathered from the citizens, J2 Engineering will create a plan that will include cost modules for the PRL Department to review.

        So, start thinking of what it is you want in Maricopa, whether it is for yourself, your children or your pets. Both J2 and the PRL Department will be asking for your input soon.

        Photos by Katie Winkley

        by -

        Most children find an after school activity they enjoy at a young age.

        Mariah Boehm tried everything from Girl Scouts to marching band but couldn’t find something she loved. That is, until she joined the Maricopa Black Belt Academy.

        “We signed her up for the two-week trial class, and she was hooked before the class was over,” Boehm’s dad, Tony Pagliocco said.

        Now, Boehm practices Taekwondo five days a week, sometimes up to three hours a day.

        “It’s just really fun,” Boehm said. “There is always something new to learn.”

        Since her start in January, Boehm has tested for six belts. Her most current test was where she recently presented forms and sparred for her purple belt. There are 10 belts in Taekwondo, with the black belt being the highest level of achievement. Once the black belt is achieved, the student can then advance through the 10 degrees of black belt.

        Besides working on perfecting her form to advance in belts, Boehm also participates in competitions against other local and national martial arts schools.

        Recently, Boehm traveled to Cape Cod, Mass., for a national tournament. The only Arizona representative, Boehm brought home a second place trophy for both forms and sparring.

        “I was really nervous when we got there because there were no mats on the floor,” Boehm said.

        Once she started practicing and saw the competition around her, Boehm said some of her nervousness went away, making her able to execute the forms correctly.

        In another tournament two weeks ago in Mesa, Boehm participated in the weapons portion of the competition and won third place.

        “I had never tried weapons before, but it is a lot of fun,” Boehm said.

        For now, Boehm is content working her way to her goal of achieving a black belt, but she also has big dreams for her future.

        “I want to own my own Black Belt Academy one day,” Boehm added.

        According to the Maricopa Black Belt Academy’s Web site, the instructors’ teachings are about more than the technical skills of Taekwondo.

        Each month there is a theme such as friendship, confidence, or respect that the students learn along with the martial art skills. Students are also awarded based not only on their achievements in the academy but also in school or their home life.

        Classes begin for students as young as 4-years-old and continue through adulthood. Anyone interested can visit the Web site at