May 13 2012; Eugene, OR, USA; Lawi Lalang of Arizona reacts after defeating Chris Derrick of Stanford to win the 1,500m, 3:47.33 to 3:47.66, in the 2012 Pac-12 Championships at Hayward Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
So the athletics aren't necessarily over, but it's the end of the school year. With the exceptions of baseball, softball, and track and field, this weekend's graduation marked the end of some seniors' careers.
Here's a list of the best and worst of this academic year's athletic seasons, completely subjective and up to the sometimes-uneducated author.
Athlete of the year: Lawi Lalang, cross country/track and field
This pick is easy because, you know, he only ran the fastest 5000-meter race for an NCAA runner ever. And in his first season running cross country, the Kenyan won the NCAA title. The youngster is already on the heels of mentor and Olympic superstar Bernard Lagat so there's likely going to be a lot more of Lalang on lists like these for the next few years.
Team of the year: Men and women's swim and dive
There's still a chance for baseball, softball, and track and field to take this award at the last second, but it'll be mighty difficult. In Eric Hansen's first year after taking over for long-time head coach Frank Busch, there was little-to-no dropoff in his team's performances.
The men's team finished fourth in the nation and the women fifth, both a testament to Busch's recruiting and Hansen's abilities to keep the program on the winning track that's unparalleled by many other athletic teams in Tucson.
Now the pressure is on to see if Hansen can keep up in the next few seasons with the bar set so high.
Worst of the year: Basketball tumult
View this as a disappointing year as a whole or narrow it down to a couple of guys who couldn't get their heads on straight, but either way, Arizona basketball's season didn't go as planned.
The argument could be made to pick a football team that was outright bad, but the context for the basketball team
winning taking this award goes as follows.
For one, Arizona is a basketball school. For two, even though the football team looked flat-out bad, it's hard to look at the football players themselves and criticize their effort. Mike Stoops looked like a sitting duck from the start of the year, and Rich Rodriguez's comments about the lack of conditioning alone might be telling of a lack of direction for the players.
When it comes down to it, 4-8 finished versus a first-round loss in the NIT doesn't seem comparable. But the win in football against ASU compared to the loss in the basketball team's final regular season game against the Sun Devils hold a lot of weight in this pick for the sake of salvaging a bad season.
Coach of the year: Andy Lopez, baseball
Whatever happens, the Wildcats' current No. 6 rankings in the Baseball America Top 25 shouldn't go overlooked. Three years ago, Lopez put down the hammer on his team. He reloaded with a completely new team after a disappointing 2009 year, and he made sure to recreate the culture in the dugout.
It's worked. The Wildcats are now a national force, and even if they falter come the postseason, it won't be because Lopez didn't do a masterful job of recruiting and developing players with class and talent.
Lopez took a big risk in calling his players out in 2009, but the payoff has come this year.
Surprise of the year: TBD
We'll relegate this award to the three teams still in action. Nationally, not many expected Andy Lopez's baseball team to be this good nor Mike Candrea's softball team to struggle, and both could make some noise in the NCAAs.
Yesterday, the softball got word that they'd host an NCAA regional (apparently it was by a hair) so despite a down regular season, there's always hope that something is up Candrea's sleeve.
Meanwhile, the track and field teams finished third at the Pac-12 Championships and have elite talent at the top of many of their events. Fred Harvey's squads will be scoring some points at the NCAAs, and the recent rise of his program has been a pleasant surprise in the athletic department.
Senior of the year: Kyle Fogg, basketball and Nick Foles, football
Duh, duh, duh. Yeah, both of these guys had rough endings to their careers, but how badly would it have gone if they weren't around? When you talk commitment to the team, leadership and all the off-the-court/field stuff, Fogg and Foles are heads above everyone else.
Sure, there were some solid seniors -- many I'm sure -- on some smaller teams, but the impact these two had on the community at the university and in the community put them ahead.