FOLLOW @ANDYMORALES8 ON TWITTER!
Southern Arizona State Girls Swim & Dive Championships
Championships began in 1972.
Only four programs have won state titles from Southern Arizona and Catalina Foothills has 11 of the 14 championships collected by those schools.
Xavier and Arcadia stood in the way of more championships over the years. Sabino has six runner-up finishes in the 1990s and Rincon/UHS had three.
Canyon del Oro and Pusch Ridge have one runner-up finish each and Salpointe has six second place trophies. Amphitheater had a couple of third place spots prior to the construction of Catalina Foothills.
Nicole Sayers-Penkalski led Catalina Foothills to six straight titles. I caught up with Sayers from her home in California a couple of years back:
“When I took over, there were 56 kids total on the team,” she explained. “By the time I left, there were over 90. I had the policy of no cuts. As long as they kids were willing to show up and put in the time of practice, I would not cut them and gave them great coaches to work with. The first year, we knew the girls were close to winning (had lost by less than 10 points the previous few years) and we were so wrapped up at State on whether they were going to win or not as it all came down to diving at the end of the meet, that we did not even have a clue that the Boys had already won!
“A reporter came up to me and asked how did I feel knowing we won? I stated, we have not yet won, we are still waiting on diving. She looked at me and said, “no, the Boys won State!”. We were 6th the year prior, so that was a GREAT shock! When the girls then won as well, it was unbelievable! Going forward, the team set a precedent of put in the work and you will do well. Also, no team going forward ever wanted to be the team to break the streak! It became sort of a tradition!”
Catalina Foothills (10)
2000: 4A (Nicole Sayers-Penkalski)
2001: 4A (Nicole Sayers-Penkalski)
2002: 4A (Nicole Sayers-Penkalski)
2003: 4A (Nicole Sayers-Penkalski)
2004: 4A (Nicole Sayers-Penkalski)
2005: 4A-I (Nicole Sayers-Penkalski)
2006: 4A-I (Dale Payne)
2007: 4A-I (RJ Lundstrom)
2009: 4A-I (RJ Lundstrom)
2010: D-II (RJ Lundstrom)
2013: D-II (Ed Walter)
1996: 4A (Mike Ward)
1982: 5A (Kelly McConnell)
2012: D-II (Chad Castillo)
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on the pages of the Vail Voice. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com