spotlight

Gilbert cyclist named to Olympic team

A Gilbert native is one step closer to achieving her dream of competing in the Olympics after she was officially named to the United States Track Cycling Olympic Long Team for the Tokyo games. 

Christina Birch, 33, a 2004 graduate of Gilbert High School, automatically qualified for the Long Team after earning a World Gold Cup Medal in Team Pursuit in November in Belarus, followed by a World Cup Bronze Medal in the Madison in Canada in December. She will now wait until May 2021 to see whether she makes the final cut to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, which had originally been scheduled for this summer but were pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Making the Long Team is one importan...

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School ADs remain hopeful for fall sports

East Valley high school athletic directors continue to do their part to navigate sport programs through a tenuous summer filled with uncertainty surrounding a fall sports season.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association pushed back the start date of official practices to Aug. 17, prompting several schools to shut down athletic summer training sessions on campus.  

Gilbert Public Schools was one of the first districts to allow athletes to return to campus. A three-phased plan was introduced with conditioning followed by the ability for teams to workout in larger groups and use equipment. 

Schools advanced to the second phase before camps were shut down. Gilbert athletic direc...

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Virus pops up at schools as AIA explores options

As football programs across the East Valley try to carefully navigate through summer workouts, some have fallen victim to COVID-19 infections among players. 

Tempe Union High School District spokesperson Megan Sterling confirmed a player at Desert Vista had tested positive for the virus. According to Sterling, the player started to have symptoms the weekend of June 12. He was not present at any of the Thunder’s workouts leading up to his positive test result on June 18. 

Desert Vista kept players in groups of 10, including a coach that was designated to remain with that group. Sterling said the player’s group were told to self-isolate out of precaution. Sterling said as of Friday, June 26, ...

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Highland’s Daschbach runs into record books

It took a moment for Highland senior Leo Daschbach to realize what he had accomplished as he crossed the finish line at Oak Ridge Hill High School in El Dorado Hills, Calif. 

Racing in an event called the Quarantine Clasico on May 23, Daschbach was one of nine competitors from the surrounding states invited to participate. His goal heading into the final race of his prep career was to finish the mile in under 4 minutes, a feat that had only been done by 10 male high school runners in history. 

When he crossed the finish line, the timer read 3 minutes, 59.54 seconds. 

“I sat down almost in disbelief,” Daschbach said. “I just wanted to kind of absorb what I had just done. I d...

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Higley High swimmer going the extra mile

Higley’s Keaton Jones went the extra mile to raise money for members of the Arizona community most vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19. 

Jones, alongside his Swim Neptune teammates Devin Esser, came up with the Going the Extra Mile Challenge to raise awareness and funds for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the state. The two, along with teammate Tal Spector, coach Joe Zemaitis and his brother, John Zemaitis, all swam 25 miles in 24 hours as part of the challenge. Two relay teams from Swim Neptune also completed it, along with Jones’ mother, Elizabeth, and younger sister, Ezmee, who also swam a relay. 

“My mom and I were going to do a running challenge where you run four miles ever...

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GPS outlines plans for athletics to return June 1

Gilbert Public Schools outlined its four-phase approach to allow district athletic programs to begin summer workouts on Monday, June 1. 

The four phases, referred to as “levels” by district Athletic Director Stephen McDowell, emphasizes the safety of both athletes and coaches as they begin returning to campus.

“This is a project that the other athletic directors and myself have been working on for about three weeks now,” McDowell told the governing board Tuesday night. 

“Since we started this process a lot of new information has come out so this has been a very flexible document and it will continue to be flexible based on the latest data and information we get from Arizona...

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