Cats honor Urreiztieta
Arizona honored hurdler Lezo Urreiztieta with a moment of silence before Monday night’s game against Northern Arizona at McKale Center after the sophomore died Saturday following brain surgery.
Urreiztieta, a Canyon del Oro High graduate who won the state title in the 110 hurdles as a senior in 2011, is survived by his parents, Izaro and Melissa, and his brother, Gaizka.
Friends and family placed candles and mementos in front of McKale to celebrate the life of the fallen Wildcat, who told the Arizona Daily Wildcat that he hoped to be a doctor after graduation and was working toward the profession despite the rigors of college athletics.
“I remember him winning the state title, just a couple years ago in the hurdles,” CDO track coach Rick Glider told the Daily Star. “His efforts were one of the reasons we finished second at state. He was a team leader and a fantastic kid all around. He was willing to help out whenever possible, willing to work hard and was a coach’s dream.
“It really hurts, it really does. You’d be proud to call him your son.”
A celebration of the life of Urreiztieta will be held Thursday at 5:30 p.m., at Adair Funeral Home, 8090 N. Northern Ave.
Funeral services for Urreiztieta will be held Friday at 10:30 a.m., at St. Thomas Apostle Parish, 5150 N. Valley View Road.
The Urreiztieta family has created a scholarship in Lezo’s name through the UA Foundation. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the scholarship, which will be awarded UA track and field student-athletes.
Santa! I know him!
In Philadelphia, fans of the Eagles are known to pelt husky, white-bearded, cheerful men in Santa Claus outfits when the team is struggling.
On Monday night at McKale, Arizona fans were kinder.
But not much.
Walking on the floor of the arena after waving at fans from the court during the first media timeout, a Wildcat wiseguy gave it to merry old Saint Nick.
“Down in front!” yelled the curmudgeon.
It wasn’t all lumps of coal for the purveyor of cheer.
Old men waved, and said “Hi, Santa!” though young children seemed disappointed he didn’t come bearing gifts.
No less than eight players on both benches hailed from the Grand Canyon State in the matchup.
On Arizona’s side, Nick and Chris Johnson (Gilbert), Eric Conklin (Scottsdale) and Tucson’s Matt Korcheck, and on NAU’s there was Christopher Miller (Peoria), Travis Meeker (Mesa), Chris Heine (Phoenix) and Jaran Hoover (Prescott).
Sights and sounds
McKale gave its first rousing ovation on a Nick Johnson alley-oop. It just took a little longer than it normally does. Johnson’s dunk, off a beautiful lob from T.J. McConnell, put the Wildcats up 7-3 with 15:37 left in the first half.
The stifling Arizona defense has held 9 of 13 opponents this season to less than 30 first-half points. There’s a reason: The Wildcats can go on some masterful runs. Arizona held NAU scoreless for 328 seconds (5 minutes 28 seconds) during a late first-half run.
Bye, bye board
McKale Center bid goodbye to its videoboard on Monday night. The next time the Wildcats play, on Jan. 2 against Washington State, a new Panasonic video board will be unveiled. The cost, with installation, is estimated at a little under $2 million, and it is just the first step of the major renovation for the facility.
Tweet of the game
“That was only NAU’s second field goal in the last nine minutes.” — @BrucePascoe