2012

2012: The top 10 moments: Silver a golden moment

Barrett's second place in Olympics tops list of local performances
2012-12-29T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:34:01Z 2012: The top 10 moments: Silver a golden momentPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 29, 2012 12:00 am  • 

It's about 5,300 miles from Tucson to London, where, on a Saturday afternoon in August, the best story of Southern Arizona's sports season played out.

UA high jumper Brigetta Barrett, quite simply, had the best day of any collegian in the history of her sport.

Barrett winning the silver medal might not have registered with casual fans the same way as a bowl victory or even the nationally televised College World Series championship.

But its relevance within her sport makes it our pick for the top Southern Arizona sports moment of 2012.

Here's a look at the year's 10 most memorable moments, starting with Barrett's jump:

1. Silver bullet

Date: Aug. 11

Story: In front of 80,000 fans, Barrett's personal-best jump of 6 feet 8 inches was the highest mark ever by a female collegian and enough for the first UA track medal since 1992.

Quotable: "I put my foot down and closed my eyes, and when I hit that mat without hitting the bar, I was like, 'Thank you, Jesus.'" - Barrett

2. CWS champs

Date: June 25

Story: With a 4-1 win over South Carolina in the College World Series finals, the Arizona Wildcats earned their first national baseball championship since 1986. The UA won all 10 postseason games and never trailed in any game held at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.

Quotable: "That was the greatest thing I've ever experienced. That was awesome." - Brandon Dixon, whose RBI double in the ninth inning gave the UA a one-run lead

3. Miracle in New Mexico

Date: Dec. 15

Story: With 1:48 to play, the Arizona Wildcats trailed Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl by 13 points. They were out of timeouts. But Matt Scott threw two touchdown passes in the last 46 seconds, the last to Tyler Slavin with 19 seconds left. The extra point gave the UA a 49-48 win.

Quotable: "I really couldn't believe it. It seemed like a dream." - Scott, about the UA converting an onside kick with 46 seconds left

4. State champs

Date: Nov. 24

Story: Ironwood Ridge defeated three-time state champion Peoria Centennial 27-3 to claim its first football title in school history. The 13-1 Nighthawks became the first Southern Arizona school to beat a Phoenix team for the state football title in nine years.

Quotable: "This is an unbelievable feeling. You always talk about what you're going to do if you win the state championship, and I have no idea what to do with myself right now." - IRHS quarterback Tyler Williams

5. Miracle, Part II

Date: Dec. 15

Story: Hours after the UA football team rallied to win the New Mexico Bowl, the UA basketball team beat No. 5 Florida 65-64 at a sold-out McKale Center. Mark Lyons made a layup with seven seconds left to win the game after the Wildcats had trailed by four, without the ball, with 56 seconds to play.

Quotable: "It was a great day for Arizona sports. Both teams looked ugly for a moment, but we kept fighting."- UA forward Solomon Hill

6. Olympic mettle

Date: July 31

Story: Sahuaro High School graduate Caitlin Leverenz, a Cal senior, won the bronze medal in the 200 individual medley at the London Olympics, becoming the eighth Tucson native to medal in the Games. Athletes with Southern Arizona ties - which includes UA athletes born elsewhere - won nine Olympic medals this year.

Quotable: "I was overjoyed with emotion when I turned around and saw that I had gotten third and was able to get on the medal stand for my country. It was an amazing feeling." - Leverenz

7. Ka'Deem!

Date: Nov. 10

Story: UA sophomore Ka'Deem Carey set the Pac-12 single-game rushing record by gaining 366 yards on 25 carries in a home win against Colorado. Only eight players in the history of the FBS had ever recorded more rushing yards than Carey, who would go on to be named a consensus All-American.

Quotable: "When you have a guy as hot as Ka'Deem was, you just keep feeding him." - UA coach Rich Rodriguez

8. What a year

Date: Sept. 9

Story: By the time the Paralympics closed Sept. 9, UA junior Shirley Reilly had won one gold, one silver and one bronze as a wheelchair racer, months after taking home the Boston Marathon title.

Quotable: "I had high expectations for myself. It really was about getting a medal in every event. I got three out of five of them." - Reilly

9. Match Play winner

Date: Feb. 26

Story: With a score of 2 and 1, American Hunter Mahan defeated Rory McIlroy - who would have been No. 1 with a win - at The Ritz Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain. Mahan claimed a $1.4 million prize and became the first American to win the Southern Arizona event since Tiger Woods took it in 2008.

Quotable: "I played great from tee to green. Putting, chipping, driving, irons - everything was there. I needed everything to win. It feels good. I'm very proud of how I played." - Mahan

10. Title run

Date: May 19

Story: Pima College finished fourth in the NJCAA national softball tournament in St. George, Utah, after losing 5-2 to Wallace State Community College. The Aztecs finished the season 56-15.

Quotable: "We've only got the job halfway done. Winning regionals was fun and exciting, but we still have work to do." - Pima coach Armando Quiroz, before the tournament

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