Two of the most incontestable, insurmountable, irrefutable records in Tucson sports history are Nick Foles’ 10,011 passing yards and Ka’Deem Carey’s 4,239 rushing yards.
They are stupefying numbers that reign after a century of Arizona football. As the years go by, they are likely to become mythical in stature.
Or will they?
By pure happenstance, Carey and Foles launch their NFL seasons on national TV next Friday night, Carey’s Chicago Bears vs. Foles’ Philadelphia Eagles. By then, UA football coach Rich Rodriguez will have begun auditioning to find a starting quarterback and tailback.
The count will start at zero.
Until Carey and Foles put up those extraordinary numbers, I thought Sean Elliott’s 2,555 career basketball points was the most unassailable of all Tucson sports records. Who is going to be good enough, long enough, to score an average of 638 points in a four-year UA hoops career?
Nick Johnson was the Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2013-14. He scored 618 points and left school 1,222 shy of Elliott.
Legendary Art Luppino rushed for 3,371 yards at Arizona in the 1950s; that record stood for 38 years and has since been broken three times. Tom Tunnicliffe passed for 7,618 yards in the early 1980s. His record was broken in 2008 by Willie Tuitama, and three years later by Foles.
At the tempo at which college football is now played, the records of Carey and Foles might not last 10 seasons.
So here’s the question: Which of Tucson’s sports records have the most staying power? Here’s my list of the Top 10, in no particular order:
- On Nov. 14, 1975, Sahuaro High junior receiver John Mistler caught 21 passes (for 292 yards) in a victory over Sabino. What made the record so astonishing is that Mistler, who would go on to be an All-Pac-10 receiver at ASU and a four-year NFL player, caught 21 of the 23 passes the Cougars completed that night.
- On Jan. 11, 1946, Tucson High School took a 44-0 lead over Nogales High School and won a 76-3 basketball game. The margin of 73 points remains a big-schools boys state record. It’s not that the Badgers were that good; they would lose 34-25 to Phoenix Union two days later. Nogales shot 1 for 43 from the field and trailed 60-2 after three periods.
- Between 2003 and 2006, UA softball pitcher Alicia Hollowell struck out 1,768 batters in her Wildcat career. Here’s some context: Her closest pursuer in the long-list of Arizona All-America pitchers, Taryne Mowatt, struck out 1,267 batters. That’s 501 strikeouts fewer than Hollowell.
- In his final three seasons as a Sunnyside High School wrestler, Nick Gallick won 116 consecutive matches and three state championships. His single-season totals were 31-0, 41-0 and 44-0. That’s the gold standard for the greatest wrestling program in Arizona history.
- UA golfer Lorena Ochoa won seven straight tournament championships in 2002, her sophomore season. No other UA golfer, not even Annika Sorenstam, won more than three consecutive tournaments. Not only that, Ochoa won 12 individual championships in ’02, with a NCAA-record scoring average of 70.1, two more records that are unlikely to be threatened.
- On Dec. 7, 1973, Canyon del Oro High School center Brian Jung pulled down a state-record 39 rebounds against Marana. (He also scored 40 points in the game.) Jung, a 7-footer who played briefly at Arizona, was hardly the first Tucson big man to set a state record that still stands. In 1960, Salpointe Catholic sophomore center Dave Mills, who would become a standout at DePaul, blocked 22 shots against Yuma High School. That record is likely to stand forever. (Mills also had 21 rebounds that night.)
- Between 1984 and 1987, Chip Hale started 255 consecutive games for Arizona’s baseball team, which included the 1986 NCAA championship. No one else at Arizona has started more than 202 consecutive games. Perspective: Arizona played 65 games when it won the 2012 College World Series. To break Hale’s record, someone would have to start 65 games over four consecutive years to reach 260. But that would probably require the UA to reach the CWS finals four years in succession.
- In her basketball career at Catalina Foothills High School, guard Julie Brase scored 2,913 points from 1994 to 1998. Only one other player in Tucson history, 1980s Santa Rita guard Paula Pyers, has reached 2,000. Pyers scored 2,082, meaning she would have needed to average about 10 points more per game to match Brase.
- As a three-year varsity starter at Salpointe, outfielder Mark Carreon struck out just one time each season, or three times in 264 high school at-bats. Carreon, who would play 10 MLB seasons and hit 69 home runs, was not a slap hitter, but he was difficult to strike out. After signing with the Mets after
his senior year at Salpointe, Carreon led the Appalachian League in fewest strikeouts per plate-appearance, striking out just 13 times in 260 appearances.
- As Pueblo High School reached the 1967 state championship football game, Rudy Quihuis intercepted 18 passes (in just 13 games), which remains a state record. Here’s a comparison: When Salpointe won the 2013 state championship, its entire team intercepted 18 passes, matching Quihuis’ individual total as a Pueblo senior.
Did I overlook a deserving record or two?
Sabino tailback Nathan Wize scored 51 touchdowns in 1997, which was threatened by Carey’s 45 as a CDO junior.
And Amphitheater High School point guard Catherria Turner had 17 steals in a 2001 victory over CDO.
Turner averaged 10 steals per game that season, a state record. Let’s see you top that, or any of those on this list.