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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Top senior athletes

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Nic Wise iced the game in double-overtime with a layup with just over one second left to beat the USC Trojans 86-84 Saturday in McKale Center. It was Senior Day for the Cats as Nic Wise played his last game in McKale.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat Nic Wise iced the game in double-overtime with a layup with just over one second left to beat the USC Trojans 86-84 Saturday in McKale Center. It was Senior Day for the ‘Cats as Nic Wise played his last game in McKale.

 Baseball

Rafael Valenzuela

Arizona senior first baseman Rafael Valenzuela is the definition of a utility man, and has endured the good, the bad and the ugly in his time at Arizona. He went through what head coach Andy Lopez called a nightmare of a season last year, only to help lead the youngest team in the Pacific 10 Conference to 15 straight wins this season. The senior, better known as “”Failo,”” has played virtually every position since donning the Cardinal and Navy, and even serves as the team’s emergency catcher. His numbers are never staggering, but rarely do you watch an Arizona baseball game without seeing his name in the lineup. He’s been a father figure of sorts, and his versatility, leadership and personality will undoubtedly be missed.

— Mike Schmitz

 

Men’s basketball

Nic Wise

He didn’t have a choice.

Nobody survived the previous regimes. Nobody withstood the uncertainties.

Nic Wise, the lone senior on Arizona’s fourth identity in as many years, bridged the gap from Lute Olson to Kevin O’Neill to Russ Pennell to Sean Miller. Filled with potholes and U-turns, the road was unprecedented in college basketball.

“”There isn’t another college player in history that’s been through what I’ve been through,”” Wise said.

Miller’s message remained consistent: No single player means more to his team than Nic Wise does to Arizona.

And who could’ve asked for a better ending to his well-documented career than a buzzer-beater on senior night in McKale Center?

— Bryan Roy

 

Women’s basketball

Ashley Frazier

In her short two-year stint with the Arizona women’s basketball team, senior guard Ashley Frazier has managed to become a leader both on and off the court. With her drive and passion for the game, she pushed for a 14-17 record, one of the best the Arizona women have attained in years.

Frazier never tallied high in the points-per-game column, but if you looked at the rest of her statistics, it was evident that her forte was in assists and the tenacious defense she always brought to the table.

In coming years, the Wildcats will have a difficult time replacing the emotional and vocal spirit that Frazier brought to every contest.

— Dan Kohler

 

Women’s golf 

Emily Mason

 As a senior, Mason compiled an 85.5 scoring average in two rounds over only one event. Mason ranked fifth on the team in scoring her sophomore year, as she compiled an average of 80.23. Her career highlight was tying for 21st at the Mountain Shootout her junior year.

 

Brittany Benvenuto

Benvenuto found herself on the outside looking in during her senior year with the influx of youth into the Arizona lineup. In 13 rounds, played over five events, she compiled a scoring average of 77.38. Career highlights include the low round at the 2007 NCAA Central Region and a career-best tie for 18th at the Wildcat Invitational as a junior.

 

— Alex Williams 

 

Men’s golf 

Rich Saferian

After transferring from Scottsdale Community College after his sophomore year, he recorded one top-10 and two top-20 finishes as a junior, with a scoring average of 73.66 over 28 rounds played, and a low tournament of 2-under-par. Saferian was honorable-mention All Pacific 10 Conference as a junior. As a senior, he had one of Arizona’s two individual victories, when he won the Arizona Invitational at 13-under-par. Saferian was UA’s third-leading scorer as a senior with a 72.53 average.

 

Bradley Nicholson

A transfer from Brigham Young University after his sophomore year, Nicholson posted a 75.97 scoring average over 10 events played, with seven rounds at or below par. He tied for 22nd at the Braveheart Classic, his best finish of the season. As a senior, he played 17 rounds over six events, cumulating a 75.41 scoring average and one top-10 finish. His best finish at UA came at the Braveheart Classic as a senior, where he finished in a tie for 16th.  

 — Alex Williams

 

Gymnastics

Sarah Tomczyk

Five years of dedication. 

That is what Sarah Tomczyk gave the Arizona gymnastics team. After a medical redshirt her freshman year, Tomczyk grew into a leadership role for the Gymcats.

In Tomczyk’s final year as a Gymcat she helped lead the team to a finish in the nation’s top 20. Tomczyk was the sole leader on a young Gymcat team and often had the most responsibility on her shoulders.

Tomczyk, who epitomizes the student in student-athlete, has already begun student teaching. As Tomczyk ends her career as a gymnast at the UA she will no doubt take with her the ideals she so often signified during her career.

— Kevin Nadakal

 

Football

Cam Nelson

Cam Nelson was a productive, versatile player during his four seasons as a Wildcat, but most importantly he was a leader and the type of player that Mike Stoops needed to turn a once-down program around. Nelson was a three-year starter in the secondary, coming in as a cornerback before switching to strong safety and eventually ending up at free safety. Nelson appeared in 50 games throughout his career and was a co-captain in 2009. He signed on with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent.

 

Earl Mitchell

Like Nelson, Mitchell also epitomized the versatile, team-first type player that Stoops needed. Mitchell came to Arizona as a running back, moved to H-back and eventually ended up as a starting defensive tackle. He finished his impressive 2009 season with 44 total tackles and six sacks. The Houston Texans selected the co-captain in the third round of the NFL Draft.

— Tim Kosch

 

Soccer Devon Wharf

The Arizona soccer team had very little to feel good about in the 2009-10 season, the losses came in bunches and head coach Dan Tobias bailed midway through the season. But through it all fifth-year senior Devon Wharf found a way to create a feel-good story for the Wildcats. Wharf finally stepped into the starting goalkeeper position after a plethora of injuries that allowed her to play 75 minutes total before this past season. Wharf finished her career strong despite injuries, playing in 18 of 20 in this past season. Wharf’s most memorable game came against ASU when she registered seven saves and led the Wildcats to a thriller over the Sun Devils. Wharf’s career will always be marked by injuries, but she will also be remembered by the way she continued to fight to the end.

— Vincent Balistreri

 

Softball

K’Lee Arredondo

Shortstop K’Lee Arredondo has started all four years of her colligate career at Arizona. Although she began in the outfield, starting 58 games in left field, the Tempe native eventually moved to shortstop, where she has become the vocal and emotional leader of the infield. In 2009, Arredondo was named a second team All-Pacific 10 Conference selection in addition to being named to the All-Pac-10 second team in 2008 and an All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention her freshman year. She has also earned honors in the classroom, being named to the Pac-10 All-Academic first team since 2008 and to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII honors in 2009.

 

Sarah Akamine

Senior Sarah Akamine has been a viable choice for Arizona softball in the circle. The senior has seen action in the circle all four years of her career in addition to pinch hitting and seeing time at second base. Akamine became the ace for the Wildcats in 2009, spouting a 22-8 record and leading Arizona back to the College World Series. She held the then-No. 1 Florida Gators to just three hits in five shutout innings in relief of former Arizona pitcher Lindsey Sisk.

— Nicole Dimtsios

 

Men’s swim

Jean Basson 

Since the day he stepped on campus, Basson has been one of the best swimmers on the team. A four-year All-American, he has also been both a team national champion and an individual champion in the 500y freestyle. Besides his domination at the NCAA level he has also performed at the highest level, having swam for his native South Africa in the 2008 Olympics. Now that his UA career is over he will move his attention to preparing for the 2012 Olympics.

— Derek Lawrence

 

Women’s swim

Ana Agy

She hasn’t grabbed all the headlines during her time at the UA, but Agy has been a consistent performer over the last four years. She has performed so well that she is a three-time All-American.  She was a key contributer on the 2008 national championship team and also played a huge part in the UA’s dominance in the 400y medley relay — for the third time in a row she was a national champion in the event.

— Derek Lawrence

 

Men’s tennis 

Andres Arango

Despite spending the 2007-08 season as a member of the Arizona State men’s tennis team, senior Andres Arango proved throughout his two years at Arizona that the colors he represents will always be Cardinal and Navy.

Picking up Pacific 10 All-Conference honors this season, Arango was able to prove that his abilities didn’t go unnoticed in the nation’s toughest conference.

The doubles team that was later dubbed Los Dos Andres, named for Arango and his partner Andres Carrasco, was well known throughout the conference as a deadly combination of tenacity and brute force that led to some of Arizona’s key victories over the past two seasons.

— Dan Kohler

 

Women’s track and field

Liz Patterson

After four years at Arizona, Liz Patterson has compiled an impressive list of achievements. In her freshman year she came to Arizona as the USA Track and Field National Junior High Jump Champion. By the end of the year she earned All-Conference honors with a fourth-place finish at the Pacific 10 Conference Championships. In her sophomore year she was the lone individual national champion of the season after winning the NCAA outdoor title in the high jump. She also won the Pac-10 Conference Championship and was named as a team captain for the 2009 season. 

For her senior year, Patterson won the NCAA Indoor Championships and made the Bowerman Award watch list.

— Galo Mejia

 

Men’s track and field 

Luis Rivera-Morales

Luis Rivera-Morales came to UA from Central Arizona Community College with only two years of eligibility. He took advantage of those two years and earned numerous honors. Rivera-Morales set an indoor stadium record in his first meet as a Wildcat at the Blue and Orange Classic in Idaho. He also earned All-Conference honors in both the long and triple jump events in his first year. He was the indoor and outdoor conference champion in both the long and triple jumps. 

Rivera-Morales set the fourth longest jump in UA history and was the first UA long jumper to score on the national level since 1984. The decorated jumper also set the UA’s third-biggest triple jump mark at 52 feet, 4 3/4 inches at the Mt. Sac Relays. 

Aside from 1964 Olympian Gayle Hopkins, Rivera-Morales is the only other UA athlete to hold top-10 school marks in both long jump events.

In his last year of eligibility, Rivera-Morales came in sixth at the NCAA Indoor Championship in Arkansas with a long jump of 25 feet and 9 1/4 inches. He also set the Mexican National Record for the indoor long jump with a jump of 26 feet, 2 3/4 inches. 

— Galo Mejia

 

Volleyball

Jacy Norton

Jacy Norton led the Arizona volleyball team in blocking during the 2009 season and recorded a total 172 kills on the season. At the position of middle blocker for the Wildcats, Norton earned Pacific 10 All-Freshman Team honorable mention in 2006. The Louisville, Ky., native averaged nearly one block per set in 2009 and helped the Wildcats return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005.

 

Alanna Resch

The Wildcats found a defensive gem in Alana Resch, who made the switch from outside hitter to defensive libero in her sophomore season. Resch led the Wildcats in digs for the second consecutive season in 2009. She tallied 405 digs in her junior season, which was good for second-most in Arizona history, and 379 in her senior season. She was also second highest in service aces her senior season. 

— Nicole Dimtsios

 

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