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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Year in Review: Top athletes of the school year 2011-2012

Year in Review: Top athletes of the school year 2011-2012

Kyle Fogg | BASKETBALL

Kyle Fogg didn’t put up the eye-popping numbers of Nick Foles or Juron Criner, but his impact on the game went well beyond the box score, and he was undoubtedly one of the top players at Arizona last season. Fogg led the Wildcats in points per game, steals per game and free throw percentage while ranking second in 3-point percentage and minutes played. Fogg was a leader on and off the court and set the tone by hoisting 40,000 shots in the offseason to improve his game.

The Brea, Calif., native poured his heart and soul into the program, evident by the tears he shed for 30 straight minutes after Arizona’s NCAA Tournament chances were eliminated with a loss to Colorado in the Pac-12 Tournament championship. Fogg will be remembered for a senior year full of offensive and defensive production, as well as pure heart and passion. Players with those intangibles don’t come around often.

– Mike Schmitz

Cory Chitwood | SWIM

Arizona’s senior swimming captain, Cory Chitwood, was able to cap off a strong career by pushing himself to perform at the highest level throughout his final collegiate season.

Not only did Chitwood play a crucial role as one of the three veteran senior captains, but he was also a two-time defending 200-backstroke NCAA Champion and 14-time All-American in four years.

This year, Chitwood led his team to an undefeated record during the dual meet season. The Wildcats beat No. 14 Iowa, No. 6 California, No. 5 USC, No. 3 Stanford and No. 2 Texas.

During these meets, Chitwood posted the fastest times for the 200-breaststroke, 200-individual medley and helped the 400-medley team post the fastest time in the country. Chitwood won his third consecutive 200-backstroke NCAA Championship along with receiving All-American honors for the events of 800-free relay and 200-backstroke.

– Christopher Cegielski

Ben Grado | DIVE

Arizona senior diver Ben Grado had an amazing final season after a college career of major highs and lows, going from potential career-ending injury to NCAA national champion.

During Grado’s sophomore year, he sustained a shoulder injury, needing surgery to repair his torn labrum and hurt rotator cuff. But he was able to bounce back in order to surpass the competition during his senior year. Grado never finished outside the top three in an event. He had several first-place finishes and was named diver of the month in December. Grado ended the season by winning a national championship in the platform dive.

Grado said he needed to believe in himself and couldn’t have done it without help from his family and teammates. He will now try to become a part of the USA swimming team competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics.

– Christopher Cegielski

Nick Foles | FOOTBALL

There might not have been another athlete at the UA who did as much with as little as Arizona quarterback Nick Foles.

Arizona started the season 1-5, Foles’ head coach was fired, and he was expected to keep performing. But Foles charged ahead through the rest of the season, capturing the school record for passing yards in a season with 4,334.

Against the Pac-12 quarterback crop — including Stanford’s Andrew Luck, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft — Foles managed to lead the conference in passing, averaging 360 yards per game. In the Wildcats’ season finale against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, Foles managed to break the school single season record for touchdown passes with 31 on the year.

– Dan Kohler

Stephen Sambu | TRACK

Now wrapping up his senior year at Arizona, distance runner Stephen Sambu is one of the most recognized Wildcats in the athletics program. This season alone, Sambu holds two national top-5 times in the country in the 5,000-meter race and the 10K.

Sambu was one of the most coveted running recruits coming out of Rend Lake College in Illinois two years ago. Since, Sambu has set Arizona school records in the 5,000-meter and the 10K. He is also an NCAA Champion, a two-time All-American and three-time Pac-12 Athlete of the Week. Sambu competed at the world renowned Millrose Games in New York and placed third in the invitational 5K race.

Sambu is looking to continue training with Arizona head cross country coach James Li and volunteer coach and professional runner Bernard Lagat to prepare for the Olympic trials and represent Kenya at the games this summer.

Brigetta Barrett | TRACK

Junior high jumper Brigetta Barrett began her career on the track as a sprinter. It was by pure chance that she ended up in the jumping pit looking for a ticket to a college education. A New York native, Barrett holds a perfect NCAA record with three championships.

Barrett made her first international appearance summer of 2011 at the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, where she placed 10th overall. She went on to take the gold at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China, later that summer.

She has literally raised the bar in the high jumping world. She is now preparing to qualify to represent the U.S. in the summer Olympic games in London. Barrett holds the highest collegiate mark in the country this year, the second best in Arizona history, and is tied for second best in the world at 6-4.75 feet.

– Emi Komiya

Kurt Heyer | BASEBALL

Coming off of back-to-back impressive seasons, the Arizona’s ace Kurt Heyer had a lot to live up to in his junior season.

Heyer was named to the All-Pacific10 Team his first two seasons in Tucson and the pre-season All-American was again pegged as the Friday starter for an Arizona team ranked fifth in the nation in Baseball America’s pre-season rankings. But so far Heyer has done more than just meet those expectations.

Heyer (8-2) has a 2.50 ERA, 76 strikeouts and 14 walks in his 12 appearances for the Wildcats. He now has 319 career strikeouts, making him the active NCAA leader.

But his most valuable trait this season has been his ability to eat up innings, throwing a team high 93.2 inningsand four complete games. Heyer’s workhorse nature has carried the Arizona pitching staff and put the team in contention for its first conference title since 1993.

– Kyle Johnson

Davellyn Whyte | WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

The women’s basketball team started off hot, winning 11 of its first 12 games, but faltered at the end of the season in finishing just 15-17 overall. Despite its struggles, a silver lining on an otherwise tough season was the continued top performance of junior Davellyn Whyte.

The guard was second in the Pac-12 in scoring (22.5 points per game), 13th in rebounding (6.8), 11th in assists (3.19), seventh in free throw percentage (75.8), second in steals (2.63), third in 3-point percentage (36.8), second in 3-pointers made (2.22 per game) and eighth in minutes played per game (33.88).

Whyte was an AP All-America honorable mention and named to the All-Pac-12 first team for the third time.

– Zack Rosenblatt

Lawi Lalang | TRACK

Head cross-country coach James Li recruited Lawi Lalang during a visit to Kenya during the winter of 2011. Li said Lalang is in a class all his own on the track.

Lalang had virtually no formal training until he arrived in Arizona and spent less than six months on the track prior to winning his fist collegiate race. Now, a little over a year since his arrival in the states, Lalang is ranked the No. 1 collegiate runner and one of the top runners in the nation overall.

Lalang received All-American honors and an NCAA Championship as a freshman during the cross-country season and was named the National Men’s Track Athlete of the Year by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. He has also been recognized by the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation as a member of the All-Academic team, with a grade point average higher than a 3.0.

In just over a year as Wildcat, Lalang has set four school records. Lalang’s most recent achievement was the opportunity to represent the Wildcats at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., where he broke the UA record in the 1,500-meters, set in 1989. He was the only collegiate runner to finish in the top 8 with a time of 3:36.77, which was good enough for him to qualify for the Olympic “B” Standard as a sophomore.

– Emi Komiya

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