Date: Nov. 9, 2016
Final score: 3-1 (25-23, 20-25, 25-21, 25-16)
What went down: Salpointe Catholic has won so many state championships, 43 if my math is correct, that it sometimes becomes a blur.
The Lancers have gone 14-0 in a football season, 21-0 in girls soccer, scored a remarkable 400 points in the boys' state swimming meet, swept the state boys and girls track championships on the same day, and have won so many state tennis titles (16) that you wonder if they had time to properly engrave all the trophies.
Salpointe won state championships Nos. 42 and 43 in a recent five-day period and it might've been a bit confusing when Mike Urbanski's girls cross country team and Heather Moore-Martin's girls volleyball teams were honored at halftime of the school's state quarterfinal football victory last week.
Both teams celebrated with trophy ceremonies in Phoenix: the volleyball team at Mountain Pointe High School and the cross country team at Cave Creek Golf Course, but it was in Tucson where they earned their wings.
"We started in June, running four mornings a week at 6 a.m.," says Urbanski. "What I like about these girls is that they are just sweet kids, fierce competitors, tough as nails. They never quit."
Moore-Martin's volleyball players endured a three-month, 41-game odyssey in which they made four trips to Phoenix, another to Flagstaff, Sierra Vista and Nogales.
"It was exhausting," says Moore-Martin. "It got to the point I was praying for energy, hoping the girls weren't as tired as I was. But it was so exciting. We have such incredibly kind, sweet girls. They never stopped working."
Urbanski and Moore-Martin almost echo each other. Sweet kids. Hard workers. As the teams stood at midfield at Ed Doherty Stadium last week, it was one of the few times the two coaches had seen each other all season.
"We work out in the afternoon in the school gym and play at night, and Mike's team works out off-campus in the morning and runs in the afternoon," said Moore-Martin. "But in the end we reached the same place."
The pedigrees of the state championship coaches couldn't be more different and yet more familiar.
Urbanski was a 1960s distance runner at Salpointe Catholic who has gone on to become an accomplished age-group runner in such events as the Boston Marathon and the U.S. Marines Marathon. Urbanski has owned a fitness center, been a personal trainer, an assistant principal at his alma mater and is the father of one of Tucson's best-ever distance runners, ex-Lancer Joe Urbanski, a Stanford letterman.
"Mike was a coach's dream," says his old Salpointe cross country coach, John Gleeson, a Pima County Sports Hall of Fame coach.
Moore-Martin played on Catalina High School's 1983 state championship volleyball team and hasn't strayed from the sport. She still plays beach volleyball twice weekly at the Tucson Racquet Club, coaches the Lancers' girls beach volleyball team in the spring, and made headlines in 2010 and 2011 when she coached her alma mater to successive boys state volleyball championships.
Much like Urbanski, she played for one of Tucson's greatest coaches, Catalina's Mary Hines.
Gleeson and Hines were state championship coaches; now it has become a generational torch-passing to Urbanski and Moore-Martin.
Of Salpointe's 43 state championship teams, one thing is constant: No two teams are alike. It's probable that Salpointe will be favored to repeat as state champions in both sports next year, but the uniqueness that led its 2016 titles will be difficult to match.
Urbanski's team relied heavily on junior Ana Alvarez-Tostado and freshman Zoey Delgado, who finished Nos. 3-4 overall in the state championship race. Sisters Claire and Sarah Conger, reliable seniors, both finished in the top 40. Junior Jacque Dinauer, coming off an injury, ran a critically important final race, finishing 22nd overall.
"We came so far, we're very young," says Urbanski. "In the state meet, it only takes one girl to have an off day and (you're out). All of our kids came through big time."
Moore-Martin's club is similarly younger than you'd expect a state champion to be. Freshman Abby Russell was a revelation, as were sophomores Madison Sundholm and Alex Parkhurst. But it took upperclass performers such as junior Alanna Duarte, Maggie Schepelman, Peyton Lewis and Megan Cracchiola to show the way.
"They were glue," says Moore-Martin. "They were such important pieces to the puzzle."
What does a coach do after winning a state championship?
Urbanski, who is a counselor at Salpointe, celebrated the 50th anniversary of Salpointe's 1966 district championship cross country team, meeting four of his long-ago teammates for lunch.
Moore-Martin, who teaches at Pima College, drove to the White Mountains for a deserved getaway with her husband.
"I'm going to sit by the fireplace," she says. "I've got a lot of good memories to think about."
— Greg Hansen / Arizona Daily Star