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Greg Hansen's Top 100 Sports Figures of 2019
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Greg Hansen's Top 100 Sports Figures of 2019

Every year, Star columnist Greg Hansen lists the top 100 sports figures in Southern Arizona. Here's the complete countdown.

Look for the column and full list in Sunday's Arizona Daily Star. 


100. Jeff Cotton

Idaho's Jeff Cotton, left, returns a kickoff as Florida defensive back Robert Clay, right, makes the stop during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Gainesville, Fla. 

The Mountain View High School and Pima College grad was named to the All-Big Sky Conference football team, catching 88 passes for 1,141 yards at Idaho. 


99. Luke Regina

Salpointe's Luke Regina (3) pressures Vista Grande's Donald Altaffer (4) into an incompletion in the first quarter of the Lancers' season finale at Salpointe High School, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 1, 2019.

One of Salpointe Catholic High School leading defensive football players, Regina made a team-high 9 ½ sacks and contributed 47 tackles in a 10-1 season.


98. Matt Bushman

Brigham Young tight end Matt Bushman (89) yells after grabbing a pass in the end zone in the third quarter against Arizona at Arizona Stadium, Saturday September 1, 2018, Tucson, Ariz.

As a junior tight end at BYU, the Sabino High School grad caught 47 passes for 688 yards.


97. Majok Deng

Majok Deng, center, plays defense at a Pepperdine practice.

In his final season at Salpointe Catholic High School, Deng averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds for a 27-3 state tournament runner-up. He's now at Pepperdine. 


96. Christine Stainer

Sabino coach Chris Stainer, left, gives the game ball to senior pitcher Danielle Kirchhofer after defeating Snowflake 14-2 in the 3A girls state softball championship game at Farrington Stadium in Tempe, Monday, May 6, 2019.

Sabino High School's softball coach put it all together in 2019, leading the Sabercats to a 23-3 record and the state championship.


95. Kate Connelly

Catalina Foothills' Katelyn Kelch bounces off Salpointe's Kate Connelly while trying for a midfield tackle in the 4A state championship match at Mountain View High School, Wednesday, February 16, 2019, Marana, Ariz.

In a 17-2 state championship soccer season, the Salpointe Catholic High School senior led the club with 13 goals and 10 assists.


94. Adin Hill

Goaltender Adin Hill and the Roadrunners are off to a strong start this season, leading the Pacific with a 14-4-0-0 record.

As the Tucson Roadrunners bid for a historic season in the American Hockey League, Hill, one of the AHL’s leading goaltenders for 3 ½ seasons, had a 9-3 record before being summoned to the NHL on Dec. 20. 


93. Jada Talley

Arizona Wildcats forward Jada Talley (22) drives the ball up field as TCU Horned Frogs midfielder Tara Smith (16) falls short in blocking her during a game at Mulcahy Soccer Stadium Saturday night, Sept. 21, 2019.

The leader of Arizona’s NCAA Tournament women’s soccer team was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection, scoring 10 goals and adding eight assists, both team-highs.


92. Ian Kinsler

San Diego Padres second baseman Ian Kinsler throws to first to attempt the double play after putting out Miami Marlins' Cesar Puello (46) at second during the third inning a baseball game, Tuesday, July 16, 2019, in Miami. Yadiel Rivera was safe at first. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Canyon del Oro High School grad hit nine home runs in 87 games for the San Diego Padres, running his career hit total to 1,999, then retired earlier this month. 


91. Kiko Romero

Canyon del Oro catcher Enrique Romero (4) tracks down a towering pop up behind the plate by Nogales' Alec Acevedo (14) for the third out in the bottom of the third inning of their 4A state semifinal game at Hi Corbett Field, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, Tucson, Ariz. Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

One of the top prep baseball players in Arizona, Romero hit .413 in his senior year at Canyon del Oro High School, and went 4-0 as a pitcher with a 1.04 ERA.


90. Scott McKee

Sahuaro's head coach Scott Mckee applauds his offense after a Cougar score against Sabino at Sahuaro High School, Tucson, Ariz., September 6, 2019.

In his top season yet as Sahuaro’s football coach, McKee led the Cougars to a 9-3 record and the No. 1 seed in the Class 4A state tournament.


89. Cate Reese

Arizona Wildcats forward Cate Reese (25) is congratulated by teammates during a game against the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at the McKale Center, on Dec. 21, 2019. The Wildcats won the game with a final sccore of 61-42 and head into the Pac-12 undefeated.

After making the Pac-12's all-freshman team, Reese has helped the Top 25 Wildcats by averaging 14.0 points and a team-high 8.5 rebounds.


88. Diana Montano

Salpointe's Diana Montano (11) records the last out of the game, flipping to first on Tucson's Arriana Santa Maria's (10) ground ball in the seventh inning of their state D II elimination playoff game at Amphitheater High School, Wednesday, May 11, 2016, Tucson, Ariz.

As Salpointe Catholic High School won another girls state softball championship, Montano was excellent, hitting .538 with a  team-high 44 RBIs.


87. Brooks Reed

Brooks Reed spent just one day as a free agent before signing with the Cardinals.

In his ninth year in the NFL, the former Sabino High and UA pass rusher played in five games for the Arizona Cardinals before an injury ended his season.


86. Jonas Ziverts

Arizona’s prized tennis player, a sophomore from Sweden, became the first Wildcat to reach the NCAA singles championships in 13 years, winning 10 matches as the UA’s No. 1 singles player. 


85. Jim Reynolds

Salpointe's head coach Jim Reynolds tries to get a timeout called in the third quarter of their game at Catalina Foothills, Friday, February 1, 2019, Tucson, Ariz.

Now in his third season as Salpointe Catholic High School's boys basketball coach, Reynolds put a 27-3 record in the books last year and started 9-0 this season, bearing down on the school’s first-ever boys state basketball title.


84. Matt Grevers

Matt Grevers celebrates winning the men’s 100-meter backstroke during the Duel in the Pool swim meet in Indianapolis, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015. Grevers set a new world record with a time of 48.92 seconds. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Tucson’s two-time Olympic swimmer, with four gold medals, helped team USA win two silver medals in relay championships and finished fifth in the 100 backstroke at the world championships.


83. Amy Rocha

Salpointe head coach Amy Rocha high fives her Lancers after the umpires finally ruled the winning run safe in a 6-5 extra inning win over previously undefeated Gelndale Cactus in the 4A state championship game, Tuesday, May 14, 2019, Tucson, Ariz.

Rocha coached Salpointe Catholic High School to back-to-back state softball championships; her Lancers have gone 62-8 the last two seasons.


82. Jaeden Swanberg

Salpointe pitcher Jaeden Swanberg delivers a pitch against Mesquite during the 4A State Championship game in Mesa, Monday, May 13, 2019.

Salpointe Catholic High School's first-ever state baseball championship wouldn’t have been possible without Swanberg’s clutch pitching; he went 7-3 with 73 strikeouts.


81. Tony Amato

University of Arizona head soccer coach Tony AmatoUniversity of Arizona head soccer coach Tony Amato. Photo released in 2019.

Arizona’s able soccer coach led the Wildcats to their fifth NCAA Tournament in six years, finishing 12-7-1.


80. Cory Petska

Cory Petska, of Marana, Ariz., competes in the team roping event during the seventh go-round of the National Finals Rodeo, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, in Las Vegas.

Marana’s 2017 world champion in tie-down roping won five PRCA events in 2019.


79. Marcus Castillo

In his final season at Mountain View High School, Castillo won the state wrestling title at 132 pounds. It was his third consecutive state championship.


78. Adrian Virgen

Sunnyside senior midfielder Adrian Virgen. 

In Sunnyside High School's epic run to the state soccer championship, 24-0-2, Virgen scored 22 goals.


77. Trent Strong

Salpointe's defensive players Trent StrongÊ(6) and Shamon Davis (40) celebrate a fumble recovery on the second play of the game against Chandler during their Open Division semifinal game at Hamilton High School in Chandler, Saturday, Nov 23, 2019. Darryl Webb/Special for the Arizona Daily Star

A senior linebacker, Strong led Salpointe Catholic High School with 87 tackles as the Lancers advanced to the Open Division football championships.


76. Seth Mejias-Brean

The Padres' Seth Mejias-Brean, left, gets a hug from Ty France in a celebration after hitting a walkoff two-run home run against the Diamondbacks on Sept. 22. 

The third baseman from Cienega High School and the UA made his big-league debut in September, belting two home runs for the San Diego Padres after hitting .316 at Triple-A El Paso.


75. Ricky Gordillo

The No. 13 ranked Aztecs received an at-large bid to the NJCAA Division I Tournament Tuesday, after falling to Arizona Western in the Region I Championship earlier this month.

Pima College's skilled midfielder was named a second-team All-American by both the NJCAA and the United Soccer Coaches after finishing fifth in the nation with 15 assists. 


74. Ethan Lee

The Division I state tennis champion from Rincon/University High School, Lee is ranked No. 3 overall in Arizona and is a four-star recruit in the Class of 2021.


73. Kristie Stevens

Catalina Foothills tennis coach Kristie Stevens, center, celebrates with her team after they defeated Notre Dame Prep to capture the Division II girls state tennis championship at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale, Saturday, May 4, 2019.

In her final season as Catalina Foothills High School girls tennis coach, Stevens led the Falcons to 17-1 record and 15th state championship.


72. Mike Snyder

Sabino's Mike Snyder pitches against Sahuarita during the 3A State Championship in Mesa, Monday, May 13, 2019.

As Sabino High School rolled to a state baseball championship, Snyder was excellent, posting an 8-0 record and 0.57 ERA as a dominant pitcher.


71.Tim Derksen

Tim Derksen, San Francisco 2015-16

Amphitheater High School’s 2011 state basketball player of the year led Fribourg to the EuroBasket Switzerland championship, averaging 17.8 points per game.


70. Johnnie Blockburger

A junior at Tucson High School, Blockburger became the top sprinter in Southern Arizona, winning state titles at 200 and 400 meters and finishing second at 100 meters and in the high jump.


69. Trevor Werbylo

A second-team All-Pac-12 golfer from Salpointe Catholic, Werbylo shot the school’s course-record 62 on the Tucson National course and then qualified for the U.S. Amateur, where he reached the final group of 32 players.


68. Devyn Cross

Senior middle blocker Devyn Cross, 13, celebrates with the team after winning the first set of the Arizona Wildcat’s 3-0 win over the Alabama State Hornets in first game of the Wildcat Classic on September 19th, 2019 at Mckale Center.

One of the leading volleyball players in the uber-talented Pac-12, Cross was a first-team all-conference selection for Dave Rubio’s Wildcats.


67. Alfonso Cabrera

Salpointe's Alfonso Cabrera (10) salutes the crowd after making a penalty shot against Prescott early in the 4A State Championship game in Chandler, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019.

Cabrera led the way with 16 goals as Salpointe Catholic High School's boys soccer team won another Class 4A state soccer championship.


66. Cathy Guy

Co-owner of the Tucson Sugar Skulls, Guy watched the inaugural Tucson Indoor Football League team finish 7-7 and then went to work on improving the product, hiring IFL 2018 Coach of the Year Dixie Wooten away from the Iowa Barnstormers and signing the league’s MVP, quarterback Daquan Neal, away from the same team.


65. Tristan Peterson

Canyon del Oro left fielder Tristan Peterson (8) manages to get leather and little else on a fly ball by Salpointe's Nick Johnson (14) that kept sailing away from him in the afternoon's gusty winds in the first game of the DII state quarterfinals at Amphitheater High School, Friday, May 8, 2015, Tucson, Ariz. Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

As a junior at New Mexico State, the former Canyon del Oro High School catcher hit .400 with 20 home runs and 90 RBIs, making numerous All-American teams and the All-WAC first team.


64. Kate Bruno

Kate Bruno

One of the leading distance runners in Pima College history, Bruno, a Canyon del Oro High School graduate, finished fifth in the 1,500 and sixth in the 3,000 at the NJCAA championships.


63. Ya Chun Chang

As a standout freshman golfer at Arizona, Chang finished fourth in the difficult Pac-12 championships, finished in the top 10 in five tournaments, had a 73.5 scoring average and helped the Wildcats women finish tied for third in the NCAA finals.


62. Karla Teran

High jumper Karla Teran clears the bar on an attempt at the University of Arizona's Winter All-Comers Meet at Drachman Stadium, Saturday, December 8, 2018, Tucson, Ariz.

Arizona's track and field star won the Pac-12 women’s high jump and finished fifth in the NCAA championships.


61. Taylor McQuillin

Arizona's Taylor McQuillin (18) delivers in the fifth inning against Alabama in their elimination game on day three of the NCAA Women's College World Series, Saturday, June 1, 2019, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Arizona’s leading pitcher, went 24-8 and was named a first-team All-American as Arizona reached the Women’s College World Series.


60. David Korn

David Korn

The Canyon del Oro High School and UA grad coached Division II Maryville University to the NCAA Division II men’s soccer quarterfinals, leading the Saints to a school-record 17-4-2 record.


59. Nico Mannion

Arizona guard Nico Mannion (1) moves the ball up the court against Baylor during the first half of a mens NCAA basketball game in Waco, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Arizona's freshman point guard has been as good as advertised and was a magnet to help the Wildcats assemble an elite recruiting class.


58. Lathan Ransom

Salpointe Catholic High School football safety Lathan Ransom talks with the media after Salpointe Catholic High School football's signing event at Frog & Firkin, 874 E. University Blvd., in Tucson, Ariz. on December 18th, 2019. Ransom signed with the Ohio State Buckeyes

One of the leading football players in Arizona, the Salpointe Catholic High School senior scored 13 touchdowns, caught 21 passes for 534 yards, made 58 tackles — and then signed with Ohio State.


57. Zoey Delgado

Not only did Delgado win the Division III state cross country championship as a Salpointe Catholic High School senior, she led her team to the No. 2 overall finish and completed her career having led the Lancers to a pair of team state titles.


56. Yu-Sang Hou

Arizona's Yu-Sang Hou watches her shot from the first tee during the final round of the NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championships in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, May 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Another of Arizona’s national-caliber women’s golfers, Hou was a first-team All-Pac-12 player, finishing eighth in the conference and 34th in the NCAA.


55. Ken Jacome

Ken Jacome, Pima baseball coach

In his first season as Pima College’s baseball coach, Jacome guided the Aztecs to 36 wins, their most since 1993. Pima won 22 ACCAC games, doubling the final total of the 2017 and 2018 seasons.


54. Anthony Leon

Coach Anthony Leon, right, has led Sunnyside to three of its 32 state championships. All the titles have come since 1979.

Sunnyside’s wrestling coach put a second consecutive state championship in the books, outscoring second-place Mountain View High School 241-127 in Division II.


53. Jamarye Joiner

Arizona wide receiver Jamarye Joiner (10) celebrates after scoring in the second quarter against Washington at Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Ariz., Oct. 12, 2019.

In his first season playing wide receiver, the Cienega High School product led the Arizona Wildcats with 34 receptions, 552 yards and five touchdowns.


52. Todd Holthaus

Pima Community College coach Todd Holthaus doesn't agree with a call against his Aztecs during their game with Gillette College at the Native American Classic being held at Pima Community College in 2016.

Pima College’s accomplished women’s basketball coach produced another banner year, with 24 victories and a fifth-place finish at the NJCAA finals.


51. Shane Folsom

Sabino pitcher Mike Snyder gets a hug from his coach Shane Folsom after their 3-0 win over Sahuarita the 3A State Championship in Mesa, Monday, May 13, 2019.

Taking over the Sabino baseball program after its 2018 state title was voided by the state’s governing board, Folsom guided the Sabercats to a 24-6 record and a Class 3A state championship.


50. Manny Quiroz 

Tucson Sunnyside forward Manuel Quiroz (22) celebrates with teammates Adrian Virgen (7) and Ulysses Torres-Palacios after scoring a goal against Glendale Independence during the first half of their 5A state semifinal soccer game at Coronado High School in Scottsdale, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.

A senior all-state soccer player at Sunnyside High School, Quiroz scored a city-high 39 goals and led the Blue Devils to the Class 5A state championship.


49. Michael Bunting 

Roadrunners Michael Bunting celebrates his goal that triggered fans flinging several thousand teddy bears onto the ice for the Teddy Bear Toss against Ontario in the first period of their AHL game at the Tucson Convention Center, Tucson, Ariz., December 21, 2019.

One of the top names in the American Hockey League for three years, Bunting has been a key part of the Tucson Roadrunners torrid first-place start in the Western Conference. He is the club’s career-scoring leader with 58 goals.


48. Cameron Cannon 

Arizona's second baseman Cameron Cannon (35) gets an eye level hop on a grounder by Utah's Oliver Dunn (3) to record the first out in the top of the sixth inning of their Pac-12 game at Hi Corbett Field, Friday, March 15, 2019, Tucson, Ariz.

A first-team All-America infielder in his junior season at Arizona, Cannon hit .397 with 56 RBIs and was a second-round draft pick of the Red Sox.


47. Brian Peabody 

Pima Community College basketball coach Brian Peabody talks to Justin Bessard during the NJCAA Div II basketball tournament in Danville, Ill, on March 21, 2018.

Pima College’s men’s basketball coach again guided the Aztecs to a region title and berth in the NJCAA championships, finishing 29-7 overall and seventh in the nation.


46. Preston Clifford 

Sabino senior Preston Clifford dives back to first base on a pick-off attempt by Gilbert Christian during the second inning of their 3A state baseball playoff game at Surprise Sports Complex in Surprise, Friday, May 3, 2019.

Clifford made his final baseball season at Sabino High School one to remember, hitting .422 with a team-high 29 RBIs in a state championship season. He’s now at Washington State.


45. Alyssa Aguilar 

Salpointe starter Alyssa Aguilar throws to Gelndale Cactus hitter in the third inning of their game in the 4A state championships, Tuesday, May 14, 2019, Tucson, Ariz.

As Salpointe Catholic High School won the state softball title, Aguilar, a sophomore, went 22-3 with an 0.92 ERA.


44. Reyna Carranco 

Arizona's Reyna Carranco (5) watches her single get through the left side of the Auburn infield in the fourth inning in their winner's bracket game on the second day of the NCAA regionals at Hillenbrand Stadium, Friday, May 17, 2019, Tucson, Ariz.

One of the leading second basemen in college softball, the UA junior hit .416 and was named a second-team All-American.


43. Augie Busch 

University of Arizona swimming coach Augie Busch watches swimmers work out in the diving pool at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center in Tucson, on Nov. 20, 2017.

Picking up the pieces of Arizona’s once-formidable swimming power, Busch led his men’s team to No, 8 in the final poll of the college swimming winter season.


42. Austin Wells 

Arizona's fist baseman Austin Wells (16) blows on his brightly painted hand between pitches as the temps begin to drop in the early innings against Utah at Hi Corbett Field, Saturday, March 16, 2019, Tucson, Ariz.

Arizona’s powerful catcher hit .353 and scored a Pac-12-leading 73 runs, then was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and a Cape Cod League All-Star.


41. Maya Benita 

The Catalina Foothills High School star won the Division II state girls golf championship, then signed to play at national power Arizona.


40. Brooks Fail 

Brooks Fail

Emerging as one of the leading swimmers in the NCAA, the UA junior from Catalina Foothills High School finished third in the nation in the 500 freestyle and has the nation’s second fastest time at 1,650 free this season.


39. Jesse Ybarra 

After winning his third state wrestling championship at Sunnyside High School, Ybarra rose to the nation’s No. 1 ranking at 120 pounds for high school-age wrestlers. He has committed to wrestle for national power Iowa.


 

38. Carlie Scupin 

Carlie Scupin and Kelli Samorano look at each others’ letters following a signing day ceremony at Tucson High School. Scupin, a power-hitting first baseman, signed with the Arizona Wildcats.

The Tucson High first baseman hit .683 with 14 home runs and 41 RBIs, then signed a scholarship offer to play for Mike Candrea’s UA softball team.


37. David Martinez 

Ironwood Ridge coach David Martinez congratulates Diana Nisbett (9) as she rounds third base following her two-run home run against Cienega during the sixth inning of the girl's 5A state championship softball game at Farrington Stadium on Monday, May 14, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz.

Ironwood Ridge’s softball coach, 54-14 in two seasons, guided the Nighthawks to the Class 5A state championship with a 26-6 record.


36. Evan Nelson 

Harvard-bound Evan Nelson, center, hopes to lead Salpointe Catholic to the state title this season.

In 2½ seasons at Salpointe, the Harvard-bound point guard scored 1,060 points and counting. He averaged 19.3 points per game as the Lancers finished 27-3 last winter.


35. Bernard Lagat 

Bernard Lagat, left, celebrates his win in the finals of the men's 5000-meter run with Paul Chelimo at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, Saturday, July 9, 2016, in Eugene Ore. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

In the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia in July, the five-time Olympian who has lived in Tucson for 20 years broke the American masters record 2:12.10 and, at age 45, remains a contender for his sixth Olympic team.


34. Danny Preble 

Salpointe Catholic High School senior Jio Orozco shakes hands with his baseball coach, Danny Preble, during the signing day celebration at the school on Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. Orozco has decided to play baseball for the University of Arizona. Photo by A.E. Araiza / Arizona Daily Star

With a 25-6 record, Preble coached Salpointe Catholic High School’s baseball team to its first state championship since the school opened in 1950.


33. Hannah Orbach-Mandel 

Tucsonan Hannah Orbach-Mandel celebrates winning an NCAA title for Kenyon last season.

After completing her swimming career at Division III Kenyon College as a 25-time All-American, the Catalina Foothills High School grad was selected as one of nine finalists for the NCAA Woman of the Year.


32. Jay Varady 

Roadrunners head coach Jay Varady draws up a scheme for facing Ontario in the second period of their AHL game at the Tucson Convention Center, Tucson, Ariz., December 21, 2019.

The Tucson Roadrunners’ second-year head coach got off to a remarkable 23-5 start, leading the Roadrunners to the best record in the AHL’s Western Conference.


31. Jim Monaco 

Jim Monaco, right, talks about his new role as the athletic director at Pima Community College as Edgar Soto, the former director, watches during a press conference at Pima College West Campus on October 29, 2018.

In the face of budget problems, Pima College’s feisty athletic director signed an apparel deal, with Adidas, and a six-figure corporate sponsor agreement, with Chapman Automotive, to help sustain the school’s athletic department budget.


30. Levi Wallace 

Buffalo Bills defensive back Levi Wallace (39) defends against New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Making the Buffalo Bills starting lineup in his second NFL season, the cornerback from Tucson High has 74 tackles and an interception through 15 starts.


29. Bryce Cotton 

Bryce Cotton, right, was named MVP of the National Basketball League champion Perth Wildcats last season.

An all-league guard for the Perth Wildcats in Australia’s National Basketball League, Cotton, a Palo Verde grad, averaged a team-high 22.5 points as his club won the league championship.


28. Haley Moore 

Haley Moore helped the Wildcats to consecutive appearances in the NCAA semifinals, including a 2018 national championship.

Arizona’s clutch golfer, who clinched the 2018 NCAA championships with a 10-foot putt, helped the Wildcats finish tied for third in the 2019 NCAA finals, and then won two events on the Cactus Tour, won the California Open, finished seventh in the inaugural Augusta Women’s Amateur and earned her 2020 LGPA Tour card.


27. Dejah Mulipola 

Catcher Dejah Mulipola poses for a photo during Monday’s USA Softball media day in Oklahoma City. Mulipola is one of three college players to make the Olympic team.

Softball Women’s Olympic Team Selection Trials Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

A first-team All-America catcher at Arizona, Mulipola hit .311 with 23 home runs and 55 RBIs for the Wildcats — and then made the 2020 United States Olympic team.


26. Nick Quintana 

Arizona’s Nick Quintana in the first inning during an NCAA college baseball game against Grand Canyon, April 9, 2019, in Phoenix.

A first-team All-America third baseman at Arizona, Quintana hit .342 with 15 home runs and 77 RBIs in his final season as a Wildcat and was drafted in the second round by the Detroit Tigers.


25. Jordan Geist 

Arizona's Jordan Geist prepares to deliver a throw during the 2019 Pac-12 Track and Field Championships. Geist won the event with a 69-foot, 2-inch heave.

Arizona’s junior shot-putter won another Pac-12 championship and finished third in the NCAA championships.


24. Mike Candrea 

Arizona's head coach Mike Candrea tracks the game from his perch at the end of the Wildcats bench against Washington in their first round game on the opening day of play in the 2019 NCAA Women's College World Series.

Getting back to the Women’s College World Series for the first time in nine years, Candrea coached Arizona to a 48-14 record. Arizona’s 19-5 conference record was third in the difficult Pac-12.


23. Carlos Villarreal 

Martin Mejia / AP

Carlos Villarreal, de México, festeja luego de ganar la medalla de oro en los 1.500 metros, durante los Juegos Panamericanos en Lima, el jueves 8 de agosto de 2019.

Carrying on the distance running excellence at Arizona, Villarreal won the gold medal at the Pan American Games at 1,500 meters and finished third in the Pac-12 in the 800 and fourth in the 1,500 in a difficult double at the conference finals.


22. Kelly Pierce 

Kelly Pierce

Outscoring opponents 75-20, Pierce coached Salpointe Catholic High School’s girls soccer team to a Class 4A state championship with a 17-2 record.


21. Roman Bravo-Young 

Roman Bravo-Young

Finishing eighth in the NCAA wrestling finals as a freshman at Penn State, 25-7, the four-time state champion from Sunnyside High School opened this season 9-0 and climbed to No. 4 in the NCAA rankings at 133 pounds.


20. Wolfgang Weber

Salpointe head coach Wolfgang Weber gets congratulated by Douglas head coach Ken Cormier after Weber notched his 600th win with a 1-0 victory over the Bulldogs at Salpointe Catholic High School, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, Tucson, Ariz. Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

Salpointe Catholic High School’s enduring boys soccer coach won his seventh state championship, finishing 18-5-2.


19. Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza 

Arizona's Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza (32) watches her second homer of the night, a solo shot with two out in the bottom of the seventh inning that narrowed the UCLA lead to 6-2 in their winner's bracket game on day two of the NCAA Women's College World Series, Friday, May 31, 2019, Oklahoma City, Okla.

A first-team All-America outfielder, Palomino-Cardoza hit .386 with 19 home runs and a career-high 67 RBIs for Arizona’s Women’s College World Series team.


18. Bryanna Coté

Bryanna Coté got her first job, as a nursery attendant, at Tucson’s Golden Pin Lanes. She turned pro in 2015 and went on to win the PWBA Lexington Open in 2016.

After finishing 12th in earnings on the Professional Women’s Bowling Association’s tour in 2019, the Canyon del Oro High School grad qualified for international competition for the first time, finishing in the top 25 in championships in South Korea and Thailand.


17. Laura Ianello 

Women's golf coach Laura Ianello led the Wildcats to the NCAA title in 2018 and signed a five-year contract extension through 2023. 

A year after winning the NCAA title, Ianello — Arizona’s women’s golf coach — led the Wildcats to a tie for third in the NCAA finals. Her 2019-20 team is ranked No. 4 in the country.


16. Abdi Abdirahman 

Abdi Abdirahman of the United States crosses the finish line in third place in the men's division at the 2016 New York City Marathon in New York, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

At the New York City Marathon in November, the four-time Olympian from Tucson broke the American masters record in 2 hours, 11 minutes and 34 seconds, four seconds shy of the Olympic trials marathon standard.


15. David Cosgrove 

Coach David Cosgrove, second from right, and son Connor Cosgrove, far right, celebrate with their family after returning from Florida.

Pima College’s men’s soccer coach, the defending national champion, coached the Aztecs to the NJCAA National Tournament, finishing 15-4-2 and tying for the league title in the nationally difficult ACCAC.


14. Casey O’Brien 

Sunnyside coach Casey O'Brien gets a gatorade bath from his players after his team beat Campo Verde 4-0 to win the 5A State Championship game in Scottsdale, Wednesday, Feb 20, 2019.

You can make a strong case that the Sunnyside High School boys soccer boss was the best prep coach in Tucson in 2019; he led the Blue Devils to a 24-0-2 record and a Class 5A state championship.


13. Jessie Harper 

Arizona's Jessie Harper (19) gets the grounder from Auburn's Kendall Veach (24) for the third out in the bottom of the third inning in the championship of the NCAA regionals at Hillenbrand Stadium, Sunday, May 19, 2019, Tucson, Ariz.

Arizona’s clutch softball shortstop led the NCAA with 29 home runs, was sixth in the nation with 70 RBIs and led the Wildcats to a Women’s College World Series appearance.


12. Dennis Bene 

Salpointe's head coach Dennis Bene embraces several of his players following the Lancers' 48-10 win over Pinnacle in the opening round of the state Open Division Playoffs, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 15, 2019.

In his final season as Salpointe Catholic High School’s football coach, Bene piloted the Lancers to a 10-1 record and into the semifinals of the first-ever Open Division championship in Arizona prep football. Bene finished with 184 career victories, fourth-most in Tucson history.


11. Alex Verdugo 

Los Angeles Dodgers' Alex Verdugo poses for a photograph on Dodgers photo day Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, at the team spring training baseball facility, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

In his first full season in the major leagues, the Sahuaro High School grad hit .294 with 12 home runs and 44 RBIs before a back injury ended his season in August.


10. Abram Carrasco 

Averaging 19.8 points per game at Pima College, “Bram” set the PCC career scoring record for men’s basketball players, 1,310 points, and was a first-team NJCAA All-American. He played high school basketball at Cholla.


9. Blake Martinez 

Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Blake Martinez during an NFL football game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018 in Foxborough, Mass.

The starting inside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers, the Canyon del Oro High School and Stanford grad is second in the NFL with 148 tackles. He was third in the NFL a year earlier.


8. JJ Nakai 

Pima Community College guard JJ Nakai drives around a pick during the Aztecs' game against Western Arizona College at West Campus Gym on Jan. 30, 2019, in Tucson.

Nakai, a point guard, averaged 24.1 points per game as she led Pima College to fifth place in the NJCAA championships. She was named a first-team All-American and set PCC’s career scoring record with 1,397 points.


7. Chip Hale 

Washington Nationals' Max Scherzer (31) high-fives bench coach Chip Hale after pitching the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Sunday, June 30, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

The longtime Tucsonan, championship coach of the Tucson Sidewinders and a former UA and MLB infielder, was the bench coach for the world champion Washington Nationals.


6. Bianca Pagdanganan 

Arizona’s Bianca Pagdanganan watches her tee shot during the final round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championships in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, May 23, 2018.

A first-team All-Pac-12 golfer, Pagdanganan finished No. 3 in the NCAA finals and No. 2 in the LPGA Tour Qualifying finals. That’s one of the top years ever for an Arizona golfer.


5. Adia Barnes 

Arizona Wildcats Head Coach Adia Barnes, right, directs players during an offensive drill at Arizona Women’s Basketball open practice at McKale Center on Oct. 2, 2019. 

In her third season coaching her alma mater’s women’s basketball team, Barnes guided long-struggling Arizona to the women’s WNIT championship last spring. This winter, the Wildcats cracked the Top 25.


4. Delaney Schnell 

Bronze medalist United States' Delaney Schnell holds up her medal following the women's 10m platform diving final at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man )

Not only did the UA junior from Tucson High — a Team USA diver — win a bronze medal at the world championships, she was second in platform diving at the USA championships, and this month won a gold medal at the USA winter diving championships. Schnell is on the brink of making the 2020 Tokyo Olympics team.


3. Nick Gonzales 

New Mexico State's Nick Gonzales (21) runs to first base during an NCAA college baseball game against Texas Tech, Friday, June 1, 2018, in Lubbock, Texas.

At New Mexico State, the junior second baseman led the NCAA with a .432 batting average and was named a first-team All-American by almost every media service and website in the country. He backed it up by becoming MVP of the Cape Cod League; Gonzales, from Cienega High School, is ranked the No. 4 prospect by Baseball America entering the 2020 MLB draft.


2. Bijan Robinson 

Bijan Robinson, right, running back, smiles at fellow teammate Lathan Ransom, safety during Salpointe Catholic High School football's signing event at Frog & Firkin, 874 E. University Blvd., in Tucson, Ariz. on December 18th, 2019. Ransom, safety, signed with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Robinson, running back, signed with the University of Texas Longhorns.

Arizona’s leading high school football player, a five-star prospect bound for the Texas Longhorns, completed his career with 7,036 rushing yards, the first Arizonan ever to gain 2,000 or more yards three years in succession. The Salpointe Catholic High School senior was honored with the Ed Doherty Award for a second consecutive season, which is unprecedented in Arizona.


1. Aari McDonald 

Arizona coach Adia Barnes, right, says guard Aari McDonald, left, doesn’t care about her personal numbers, just team victories.

Arizona’s full-speed-ahead point guard not only broke the school’s single-season scoring record and led an epic six-game run to the WNIT championship, selling out McKale Center for the title game, but led the Wildcats to 17 consecutive wins — and counting — including a school-record 44-point game against Top 25 Texas. 

Contact sports columnist Greg Hansen at 520-573-4362 or ghansen@tucson.com. On Twitter: @ghansen711

Columnist

Greg graduated from Utah State, worked at two Utah newspapers, the St. Petersburg Times, the Albany Democrat-Herald in Oregon and moved to Tucson to cover UA football and baseball. He became the Star's sports columnist in 1984.

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