The Freshman Impact<br><i>Ninth-graders making key contributions for varsity teams</i>

Staff photo by Eric Lusk

CAMP VERDE's girls soccer has three freshmen in its starting lineup: (from left) Ashley Hart, Jaycee Reimer and Rochelle Williams.

There’s the whole not-knowing-your-way-around thing. Do you really trust that upperclassman who just gave you directions to your third period science class? Hey, thanks, senior, for selling me an elevator pass. I didn’t realize our school even had an elevator. Why are you and your friends laughing?

Then there’s the low-man-on-the-totem-poll syndrome. Freshmen typically get the grunt jobs and have the fewest perks and privileges of anyone on campus. Who wants to carry my bags? How about you, freshman?

But in terms of local high school sports this season, there’s a strong core of freshmen bucking the trends and making a quick impact on varsity teams. A few have already assumed team leadership roles.

While a great start as a ninth-grader doesn’t guarantee four years of success and a college scholarship, here are some names of local freshmen to keep your eyes on:

Brianna Lawton (Mingus cross country): It’s too early – and too unfair – to call Lawton the next Ariel Latimer, the four-time all-state performer who is now running for Northern Arizona University.

But Lawton is doing something that Latimer did as a freshman at Mingus – leading the Lady Marauders’ pack. Lawton has earned top seven finishes in each of her first three meets – the best on the girls team, including returning runners from last year.

Coach Jim Bostwick believes Lawton has the work ethic to be a solid high school runner. She enjoyed success in middle school and so competitive meets are no surprise.

“She had the most miles in the summer,” Bostwick said. “She’s earned everything so far.

“It’s neat to see that freshmen can be as good as the upperclassmen. This is a sport where you can have success right away. (Lawton) shows as much as maturity as anyone. Most freshmen you have to baby along. And she does multiple sports. I wish we had more kids like her.

Rochelle Williams, Ashley Hart and Jaycee Reimer (Camp Verde girls soccer): Girls soccer teams around Northern Arizona and the White Mountains likely breathed a sigh of relief when Cowboys like Chantel Reimer (125-plus goals), Michelle Toogood and Colleen McCabe graduated in May.

The threesome played in three state championship games, winning one over Show Low in 2000. But all is not lost with their departure.

Williams looks ready to assume Reimer’s role as a big time scorer. She’s as fast as they come and has scored nine goals already. Hart, a home school student who chose to play for the Cowboys, has also put balls in the net and is a nice compliment to Williams up top. Both play club soccer in the off-season.

Jaycee Reimer, Chantel’s younger sister, is actually playing on the opposite side of the pitch as her big sis. Jaycee is one of the Cowboys’ goalies, trying to stop shots from reaching the net instead of putting them there.

She’s a little raw in the position as you might expect from a ninth-grader starting on varsity but has showed promise in recent games. Reimer made some nice penalty-kick stops during this past weekend’s Camp Verde Invitational.

Sarah Roberts (Sedona girls soccer): Like Williams and Hart, Roberts has made an instant impact on the Scorpions’ roster. She has stellar individual skills and great speed. Roberts scored a goal in the season opener against River Valley.

Cody Raber, Nathan Hagberg and Luke Hammond (Mingus swimming): It didn’t take long for this threesome to start practicing in the “fast lane” on weekday afternoons at the Cottonwood pool.

They’ve also earned some key points in early season meets, helping a young Mingus squad knock off Prescott in the opener. Raber, especially, has been competitive, taking second in events like the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley.

The threesome’s presence helps ease the burden on Mitch Schumacher, one of the few experienced returnees from last year’s West Valley Region championship team.

Will Allen (Camp Verde boys soccer): He came off the bench to score a big goal in last week’s win over rival Sedona Red Rock, the defending state co-champions. Allen, who plays club level soccer year-round, is the only ninth-grader listed on coach Dave Miller’s varsity roster.

Brett Senger (Sedona football): In football, it’s especially tough for freshmen to contribute at the varsity level. But Senger has earned a spot in the playing rotation on the line for coach Jim Cromartie’s rebuilding Scorpions.

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