Greg Hansen: Southern Arizona's Top 100 sports figures of 2012

2012-12-30T00:00:00Z 2012-12-31T09:18:56Z Greg Hansen: Southern Arizona's Top 100 sports figures of 2012Greg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 30, 2012 12:00 am  • 

1. Andy Lopez

See the accompanying article.

2. Brigetta Barrett

Undefeated as a college high jumper in 2012, winning the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships, Barrett, then a UA junior, won the U.S. Olympic trials and capped it all with a silver medal performance at the London Olympics.

3. Caitlin Leverenz

As a Cal junior, the Sahuaro High School grad was the NCAA's female Swimmer of the Year, leading Cal to the national title, winning two events and helping the Bears win two NCAA relay titles. Leverenz then finished third in the London Olympics in the 200 IM.

4. Ka'Deem Carey

A consensus All-America tailback as a sophomore, Carey broke the University of Arizona single-season record with 1,929 rushing yards and set a Pac-12 record with 366 yards in a game against Colorado.

5. The Big Five: Robert Refsnyder, Kurt Heyer, Alex Mejia, Seth Mejias-Brean, Joey Rickard

The core of Arizona's College World Series championship, all departing juniors who turned pro, rose to the occasion in the postseason. Refsnyder, the tournament MVP, hit .364. Mejias-Brean, a fielding wizard at third, hit .355. Mejia, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, hit .357. Rickard, a leadoff-hitting center fielder, hit .320. Heyer was the league's top pitcher, 13-2 with a 2.24 ERA.

6. J.J. Hardy

Helping the Baltimore Orioles to the American League playoffs, the Sabino grad won the Gold Glove Award for AL shortstops, committing just six errors in 1,439 innings. He also hit 22 home runs.

7. Kayla Bonstrom

Numbers tell the story: The CDO senior hit .603, smacked 16 home runs, drove in 63 runs and had 41 extra-base hits. It gets better: In the state playoffs, Bonstrom hit seven homers - including the state-title clincher in extra innings - and won four games as the Dorados' pitcher.

8. Tom Wilhelmsen

Taking over as the Seattle Mariners closer, the Tucson High School grad saved 29 games and struck out 87 in 79 1/3 innings.

9. Michael Thompson

Finishing tied for second in the U.S. Open - with a chance to win at the 72nd hole - Thompson, a Rincon/University grad, earned $1.4 million on the PGA Tour, No. 60 on the money list.

10. Matt Grevers

At the London Olympics, the Tucson Ford Aquatics swimmer won gold medals in the 100 backstroke and 400 medley relay. He also won a silver in the 400 free relay.

11. Terrell Stoglin

Although he left Maryland after his sophomore season, the Santa Rita grad led the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring (21.6) and averaged 25.5 points in his first two pro games in the Greece European League.

12. Matt Johnson

Ironwood Ridge's third-year football coach led the Nighthawks to a 13-1 record and the Division II state championship.

13. Georganne Moline

After winning the Pac-12 championship in the 400 hurdles, the UA junior finished second at the U.S. Olympic trials. At the London Olympics, she produced a personal-record time 53.92 to finish fifth overall.

14. Greg Foster, Chris Keeney, Rick Schantz, Jon Pearlman

Managing partners of FC Tucson not only initiated Tucson's entry in the USL's Premier Development League, which went 9-4-4, but also solidified Tucson as a spring training base for MLS.

15. Matt Scott

Becoming just the fourth QB in Arizona history to be the second-team All-Pac-12 quarterback, Scott finished with 3,620 passing yards, No. 3 in school history, and 4,162 yards in total offense, No. 2 in school history.

16. Alex Bowman

The Ironwood Ridge grad, just 19, started in four NASCAR Nationwide events, finishing 15th, 17th, 19th and 25th, earning $86,167, and also became the ARCA series Rookie of the Year, with four victories on that circuit.

17. Kevin Cordes

Setting three American records in the breast stroke, the UA sophomore also won the NCAA title in the 100 breast stroke and was voted the UA's freshman male athlete of the year.

18. Lawi Lalang

Winning NCAA track titles in the 3,000 and 5,000 indoor championships, Lalang was third in the NCAA outdoor 5,000 and third in the NCAA cross-country finals.

19. Greg Byrne

Arizona's athletic director successfully moved his baseball team to Hi Corbett Field, began building a $74 million football plant and made plans for an $80 million re-do of McKale Center.

20. Estela Piñon

The ACCAC Player of the Year at Yavapai College, Piñon, a Sunnyside grad, went 21-3 as a pitcher. She also hit nine homers, drove in 62 runs and batted .364.

21. Lance and Kelly Fowler

The husband-wife softball coaching tandem won the big one in 2012, taking Tucson Desert Thunder to the ASA 18-U Gold championship in Oklahoma City, surviving a six-day, 73-team crucible.

22. Stephen Sambu

One of the nation's top distance runners, the Arizona senior was second in the NCAA cross-country championships and second in the NCAA 10,000-meter outdoor final.

23. Konner Wade

With a fabulous postseason run, the sophomore right-hander, 11-3 overall, went 4-0 in the playoffs and 2-0 at the College World Series, allowing just five runs in 35 innings.

24. Bryce Cotton

The Palo Verde grad, a shooting guard at Providence, averaged 14.3 as a sophomore and now leads the Friars with a 22.0 scoring average.

25. Solomon Hill

Making the All-Pac-12 team as a junior, Hill averaged 12.9 points and 7.7 rebounds. This season, Hill is second on the club with 12.7 points per game.

26. Rich Rodriguez

In his first season as Arizona's football coach, Rodriguez turned a 4-8 record into an 8-5 season, setting a school record for most yards (6,840) gained in a season.

27. Stefen Romero

The Sunnyside High product was named the Seattle Mariners' top Class AA prospect, hitting a combined .352 with 23 homers and 101 RBIs in the minor leagues.

28. Fred Harvey, Sheldon Blockburger, Craig Carter, James Li

Arizona's distinguished track and field/cross-country coaching staff had another remarkable season. The women's cross country team was No. 6 in the NCAA, and the men's track team was No. 3 in the NCAA indoor finals. The men's team was No. 7 in the NCAA outdoor finals.

29. Tim Derksen

The state's boys basketball Player of the Year, Derksen led Amphi to the state final, with a 30-4 record, averaging 22.6 points. He now starts for the San Francisco Dons, averaging 8.6 points.

30. Cesar de la Cruz

The Desert View High School grad had another bountiful year on the Pro Rodeo Tour, finishing No. 6 among team roping heelers, earning $153,804.

31. Armando Quiroz

Pima College's softball coach led his club to the NJCAA World Series, winning 56 games, and finishing fourth in the nation.

32. Jasmine Stokes

Scoring a state-high 51 goals, Stokes led Palo Verde to the Division III state championship game. She now has 112 goals in her terrific prep career.

33. Tara Erdmann

After finishing fifth in the NCAA indoor 3,000 meters in March, the Flowing Wells grad ran the USA's fastest 10,000-meter time through April. At the Olympic trials, she was sixth overall and has now joined the Nike Oregon Project stable of elite runners.

34. Bernard Lagat

The Tucson resident was fourth in the London Olympics at 5,000 meters and first at the world indoor championships in the 3,000 meters.

35. Katie Matusik

In a near-flawless performance at the NCAA championships, the UA senior gymnast finished third in the nation in the balance beam, 9.8875, after tying for first at an NCAA regional.

36. Dan Slania

At Notre Dame, the former Salpointe pitcher went 3-0 with 13 saves, and then, as the Cape Cod League reliever of the year, went 2-0 with 10 saves and a 1.51 ERA.

37. Jaide Stepter

Winning the Arizona Gatorade Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year award, the CDO product, now attending USC, broke the 27-year-old state record in 300 hurdles and won three state titles for the second year in succession.

38. Malisa Carino

Not only did Carino coach the Salpointe girls track team to the state championship, she did the same thing with the Lancers boys team. She is only the second coach in state history to achieve the double victory.

39. Alvaro Gallego

Pueblo's 106-pound wrestler won the state championship with a perfect 50-0 season.

40. Austin Hill

In a breakout season, Arizona's sophomore receiver finished with 81 receptions for 1,364 yards, third-most in school history.

41. Austin Andrade

Amphi's heavyweight wrestler went 53-0, winning the state title for Sam Portillo's Panthers.

42. Abdi Abdirahman

Although he was injured during the London Olympics marathon and did not place, the Pima College and UA product won the USA Half Marathon in June.

43. Tyler Williams

The Star's offensive player of the year, quarterback at state champion Ironwood Ridge, Williams rushed for 1,354 yards and threw for 1,143.

44. Jill Camarena-Williams

Although her Olympics performance was scuttled by a back injury, the Tucson resident and UA volunteer coach won the shot put title at the Olympic trials and was fourth in the world indoors in Turkey.

45. Charlie Kendrick

In his ninth season as Catalina Foothills girls soccer coach, Kendrick put up his third consecutive state title and sixth overall.

46. Cameron Denson

Salpointe's junior receiver was forced to start at quarterback in an injury crisis; he responded by rushing for 1,026 yards, throwing for 408 yards and catching 37 passes for 585 yards for the 12-2 Lancers.

47. Robert Ravago

After a standout season at Arizona State, going 4-1 in 27 games, the Pueblo High grad was drafted by the Florida Marlins and saved seven games in a rookie league.

48. Mari Contreras

Pima's lead pitcher, from Sunnyside, was a first-team ACCAC selection, winning 20 games and helping the Aztecs win the Region I title.

49. Delaney Schnell

Emerging as one of America's leading divers for the future, the Carson Middle School athlete finished sixth in the FINA Junior World Championships and was the top American in platform diving.

50. Andy Trouard

Competing as a distance runner, a swimmer and a soccer player, Trouard played on teams that won the state soccer title and the state track and field title. He also won four track state championships and the state cross-country meet.

51. Alyssa Anderson

In a clutch performance at the U.S. Olympic trials, the UA senior earned a spot on the American 4x200 freestyle relay team, winning a gold medal in London. At Arizona in 2012, Anderson was a five-time All-American.

52. Wolfgang Weber

Salpointe Catholic's boys soccer coach directed the Lancers to the state championship, the fifth of Weber's superb career.

53. Krystal Quihuis

Salpointe's outstanding junior golfer repeated her 2011 titles as a state champion and city amateur champion in 2012.

54. Brooks Reed

Although he lost a month with a leg injury, the pass rusher from Sabino and UA has started 12 games for the playoff-bound Houston Texans.

55. Johnny Field

Arizona's sophomore left fielder won the Pac-12 batting championship, hitting .370, and scored a team-high 72 runs for the national champions.

56. Nick Ross

In his junior season at Arizona, Ross won the NCAA indoor high jump championship, finished third at the U.S. Olympic trials and fourth in the NCAA outdoor finals. He was selected the Pac-12's male field athlete of the year.

57. Sherry Cervi

A three-time world champion barrel racer from Marana, Cervi won five rodeos and completed the season No. 8 overall with $130,263.

58. Michaela Crunkleton-Wilson

As a sophomore at Salpointe, Crunkleton-Wilson won the state title at 100 meters and 200 meters, was second at 400 meters and helped the 4x100 relay team win another championship.

59. Margo Geer

A seven-time All-American during her sophomore season at Arizona, Geer was second in the NCAA 50 freestyle and third in the 100 freestyle. She was seventh in the Olympic trials.

60. Tim Wood

A Class AAA All-Star, the Sabino and Pima right-hander saved 21 games at Indianapolis with a 2.19 ERA and has signed with the Minnesota Twins.

61. Matt Korcheck

Leading Cochise College to the ACCAC title, the Sabino grad, now redshirting at Arizona, averaged 14.7 points and 6.5 rebounds for Jerry Carrillo's 25-6 Apaches.

62. Shelby Pendley

In her freshman season at Arizona, Pendley became the All-Pac-12 shortstop, hitting .331 with 19 homers and 55 RBIs, before deciding to leave the program this week.

63. Julio Felix

After making the All-ACCAC team as a Pima College pitcher, Felix was drafted by the Detroit Tigers and struck out 29 in 35 Rookie league innings.

64. Marcus Titus

Finishing eighth in the Olympic trials in the 100 breast stroke, the Flowing Wells and UA grad just missed making the USA Olympic team. He was named the world's deaf swimmer of the year, in Portugal, earlier in the year.

65. Greg Wenneborg

Pima College's track/cross country coach piloted the Aztecs to top-10 finishes in both men's and women's NJCAA cross country championships.

66. Clark Burckle

The Tucson Ford Aquatics swimmer made the U.S. Olympic team by finishing second in the 200 breast stroke at the Olympic trials. He was then sixth in London and, in the Winter Nationals, set an American record in the 200 breast stroke.

67. Maddie Pothoff

Tucson's 15-year-old tennis standout rose to No. 9 in USTA rankings for girls 14U, and has since been ranked No. 30 in Girls 16U since her birthday.

68. Mike Feder

The GM of the Tucson Padres added a college football all-star game and a Mexican fall baseball fiesta to his long list of community service.

69. Robin Landrith

Not only did she help Tucson Desert Thunder to the national AAU softball title, leading the team in hitting, Landrith was an all-state player at Ironwood Ridge, hitting .446 for Randy Anway's 31-6 state semifinalists.

70. Minh Vu

In his senior season at Penn State, the Rincon/University and Pima College grad helped the Nittany Lions win the Big Ten soccer championship.

71. Stephanie Nicholson

In her first season as CDO softball coach, Nicholson led her team to a 33-5 record and the state championship.

72. Michael Hoard

In his junior season at Salpointe, Hoard, a first baseman, hit .460 with 49 RBIs in just 100 at-bats. He signed to play for Arizona.

73. Andrew Mike

One of the leading linemen in Tucson prep history, Mike, who is a junior at Sabino, helped the Sabercats finish 10-1.

74. Tim Berrier

Coaching Ironwood Ridge wrestling to its second consecutive state title, Berrier produced three individual winners and eight medalists.

75. Christian Garcia

The Star's 2011-12 boys soccer Player of the Year led Salpointe to the state championship with a team-high 64 points.

76. Courtney Amos

Salpointe's senior tennis standout won the state Division I girls singles championship, despite a knee injury, knocking off the state's No. 1 seed in the finals.

77. Brigette Del Ponte

Arizona's third baseman had a robust junior season, hitting .328 with 15 homers and 56 RBIs, making the all-league second team.

78. Elvin Kibet

Third in the Pac-12 cross-country finals, Kibet was 11th in the NCAA 10,000-meter outdoor finals and 19th in the NCAA cross-country championships.

79. Edgar Soto

Pima College's athletic director oversaw the remake of the school's physical plant and coordinated one of the ACCAC's top athletic departments.

80. Logan Hall

Playing second base at Texas Tech, the Sahuaro grad hit .267 for the Red Raiders' NCAA tournament team.

81. Sheridan Cohen

The Catalina Foothills grad started 17 games as a UA soccer freshman, coming off a state-title season for the Falcons.

82. Christine Clark

Making the All-Ivy League basketball first team as a sophomore at Harvard, the Tucson High grad scored 15.3 points per game and was averaging 16.5 after 11 games.

83. Lacey Smyth

As a sophomore, the intense No. 1 singles player on Arizona's women's tennis team was 14-11 against the top players in college tennis.

84. Sama Taku

The Tucson High grad was league MVP at Santa Rose (Calif.) Junior College, averaging 18 points for a 26-6 team. He now starts for the Pacific Tigers, averaging 7.8 points at point guard.

85. Riley Moore

Starting 62 games as a freshman catcher, Moore hit .301 for Arizona's NCAA champions, earning first-team freshman All-America honors.

86. Matt and Andrew Dunn

The Salpointe brothers won the state Division I tennis doubles championship.

87. Sara Brown

The Salpointe grad won the LPGA's Symetra Tour stop, the My Marsh Golf Classic, earning $15,000. She finished 12th on the Symetra Tour money list.

88. Donny Toia

Starting the year with Real Salt Lake of the MLS, Toia, from CDO High School and Pima College, soon joined FC Tucson and was a standout player during the club's first season.

89. Jason Alentado

The Star's boys swimmer of the year, Alentado, a senior at Catalina Foothills, won the 100 butterfly state title.

90. Ben Grado

Becoming the first Arizona diver to sweep all three events at the Pac-12 championships, Grado went on to win the NCAA title in platform diving.

91. Chase Brennan

A key part of Salpointe's boys state championship soccer team in the winter, Brennan became an All-ACCAC first-team player at Pima College in the fall.

92. Nadi Carey

A first-team All-ACCAC guard for the Pima College women's basketball team, Carey has become a starter for NCAA Division II Texas-Permian Basin.

93. Manon Gidali

As a freshman golfer on the UA women's team, Gidali won two tournaments and finished in the top 20 four times. Her 72.70 average led the Wildcats.

94. Nathan Tyler

The Sabino and UA grad won more than $130,000 on various pro golf tours, winning three times, and reaching the final stage of PGA Qualifying School.

95. Talbott Denny

An all-city basketball player at Salpointe, Denny has started two games early this season for Division I Lipscomb University.

96. Braelyn Henry, Arianna Assini, Lake Mehalic, Whitney Gowin

In the Arizona high school rodeo association, the Tucson-area cowgirls all placed in the top 30 in yearly all-around standings, and all were in the top 10 in individual categories.

97. Selynna Felix-Terrazas

The Flowing Wells senior, who has signed to compete for Arizona, was the champion in the Region I Level 9 All-Around gymnastics championships.

98. Sarah Macdonald

Winner of Arizona's Wendy's High School Heisman Award, Macdonald, a senior at Pusch Ridge Christian, won three state championships in track and was third in the cross-country finals.

99. Jenna Glad

The state's girls soccer Player of the Year, helping Catalina Foothills to the state title, Glad accepted a scholarship at Colorado and played in eight games as a Buffaloes freshman.

100. Aaron Briggs

A Flowing Wells grad who became a star wrestler at Northern Michigan University, Briggs won a qualifying tournament to get into he U.S. Olympic wrestling trials, finishing sixth at 163 pounds.

About the list

Greg Hansen's annual Top 100 includes those who call Southern Arizona home.

Contact him at 573-4362 or ghansen@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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