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Taking Stock: How Arizona women’s golf is looking under coach Laura Ianello

arizona-wildcats-womens-golf-stock-report-evaluation-2022-laura-ianello Photo by Shane Bevel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The offseason is here, with all of Arizona’s sports done for 2021-22 and the 2022-23 campaigns still a little ways away.

Which makes this a great time to step back and see how all of the Wildcats’ programs are doing.

Over the next few weeks we’ll take a look at each of the UA’s 19 men’s and women’s programs to see what shape they’re in and what prospects they have for the near future. We’ll break down each team and evaluate how it is performing under its current coaching staff, looking at the state of the program before he/she arrived and comparing it to now while also looking at this season and beyond.

Next up: Laura Ianello’s women’s golf team.

How it looked before

With three NCAA titles and countless Pac-10/12 championships, women’s golf has been one of Arizona’s most consistent programs over the years. Ianello was part of the second of those national champ teams as a player in 2000, and returned to Tucson in 2007 to be an assistant under Debbie Haywood.

Ianello helped lead the UA to a fifth-place finish at the 2010 NCAA championships as an assistant, and not long after was named head coach.

Where things stand now

Ianello’s 12th season in charge was actually one of the least successful of her tenure, with Arizona failing to advance out of the NCAA regionals for the first time since 2017. The Wildcats took sixth in the Albuquerque Regional, their 29th consecutive regional appearance, but missed nationals by two strokes.

That also ended a run of three consecutive trips to the NCAA championship semifinals, which includes the 2018 national title. Ianello earned a contract extension after that title, and again last June; her new deal runs through the 2026 season.

The 2021-22 team featured only one senior in the top five in Ya Chung Chang, so there’s a lot of talent combing back. Lithuanian Gile Bite Starkute will be a senior, while Italian Carolina Melgrati and Frenchwoman Lilas Pinthier will be sophomores and Tucsonan Maya Benita will be a junior. Arizona signed two recruits in November including Kansas native Julia Misemer, the 2021 Girls Junior PGA Championship runner-up whom Golf Channel ranks as the No. 17 incoming player in the country.

One big question

How will the new golf facility benefit the program? Arizona announced in late May that it was building the William M. “Bill” Clements Golf Center at Tucson Country Club, which would become the UA’s new home course, replacing Sewailo Golf Club at the Casino del Sol Resort on Tucson’s southwest side. The $15 million project will include a laser-guided putting green, hitting bays, locker rooms, a student-athlete lounge and a medical services room.

There’s no timetable for when the project will be completed, but the addition of those amenities for the UA figures to help in recruiting and maintain strong performances.