4 Salpointe Catholic football star Cameron Denson was one of four local athletes to sign a letter of intent with the Arizona Wildcats on Wednesday, but he wasn’t the only big name. Fellow Lancer Krystal Quihuis, who won two individual golf championships and was the state runner-up last fall, signed with the Wildcats. So did Diana Gajda, who has helped Salpointe win the last two Division II team championships. The fourth to sign was Jasmine Simmons, a forward on the Sahuaro girls soccer team. Heading into Wednesday night’s first-round playoff game, Simmons had scored 37 goals.
Moving the family
Last week, Ironwood Ridge first baseman Erin Rocker did not know where she was headed for college. On Wednesday, Rocker signed with Auburn.
In doing so, she also reunited with her older sister Jordan, who is a sophomore outfielder for the Tigers.
“I’m really excited,” Erin Rocker said. “It’s like we’re moving the whole family out there.”
Rocker, who led the Nighthawks last season with seven home runs and 45 RBIs, has been an Auburn fan all her life. In fact, she attended the Alabama-Auburn football game in November and got to sit in the Tigers’ student section that night. Auburn returned a missed field goal for a touchdown on the final play of the game.
“It was insane,” she said.
Football trio headed
Northern Arizona secured three premier players from Southern Arizona on Wednesday.
Salpointe Catholic linebacker Jake Casteel, Mountain View linebacker Corbin Gouby and Sahuaro wide receiver Cole Sterns signed to play with the Lumberjacks next year. All three were first-team All-Southern Arizona selections by the Star as seniors,
“I’m just excited to get up there and get things going,” Gouby said. “They have a great recruiting class this year. They went heavy in-state, which I thought was a good thing. There’s a lot of talent in this class.”
“I’m taking the entire program to next year’s game at McKale Center to support her.”
– Ironwood Ridge girls basketball coach Nikki Simpson, talking about Nighthawks star Casey Wortley. Wortley signed with Iona on Wednesday, securing at least one free trip home. The Gaels will travel to Tucson next year to play the Wildcats after hosting them last November. Wortley, a senior captain, is averaging 9.4 points and 6.0 rebounds a game.
Headed to the top
Salpointe Catholic sprinter Michaela Crunkleton Wilson picked Stanford over her hometown Wildcats on Wednesday.
“It’s honestly so surreal to be here right now,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for this moment since freshman year, so it’s really exciting. I’m just looking to be the best at whatever I can do. I won’t stop until I reach the top.”
The senior has won five individual state titles in the past two seasons and will try to lead the Lancers to their third straight team title this spring.
Crunkleton Wilson said the connection she built with the Stanford coaching staff and an elite education as key factors in choosing the Cardinal. She plans on continuing with her same events in college — the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dashes — but said she’s willing to do whatever the team needs.
From one power to another
Harvey Nelson ran away with the Division II state cross country title last fall and helped the Falcons capture the team title along the way.
Clearly, he’s used to winning, and it can stay that way.
Nelson, who was named the Star’s Runner of the Year, signed Wednesday morning with Northern Arizona, the top-ranked cross country team in the nation.
“I woke up really excited this morning,” Nelson said Wednesday. “It’s like Christmas for athletes. It feels great to finally say I’m definitely going to NAU.”
now conference opponents
Two Nighthawks girls volleyball teammates this year will be foes next year.
Kennedy Kurtz, the Star’s reigning Player of the Year, signed with Sacramento State. She plans on playing both indoor and sand volleyball for the Hornets.
She’ll also be playing one of her old teammates twice a year.
Mykaela Hammer is also headed to the Big Sky Conference. Hammer, an outside hitter who finished second on the team with 298 kills this season, will play for Montana.
Compiled by Chuck Constantino,
Jason Harris and Daniel Gaona