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

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arizona-wildcats-laura-ianello-womens-golf-contract-extension-ncaa-salary-alumni-heeke-2021 Photo by Shane Bevel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

It may seem like college sports are always going on, but July is the one month of the year when no Arizona Wildcats teams are in action. Yep, we’re as sad about that as you are.

Before you know it, the 2019-20 seasons will be under way for Arizona’s 19 men’s and women’s sports. But in the meantime, now is the perfect opportunity to assess how each of these programs are doing.

Over the next few weeks 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 (as well as looking into the near future).

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

How it looked before

Women’s golf has consistently been one of Arizona’s best programs both in terms of individual and team results, routinely finishing at or near the top of the Pac-10/12 and regularly making the NCAA championships while also producing numerous professionals. Ianello, a former Wildcat standout (and member of the 2000 NCAA title team) joined the program in 2007 as the top assistant for head coach Debbie Haywood, who was in her first year in charge after serving as the top assistant under Greg Allen the previous three seasons.

Haywood’s contract was not renewed after the 2009-10 season, despite Arizona winning the conference title and taking first in the NCAA West Regionals. Ianello and men’s golf coach Rick LaRose piloted the Wildcats at the NCAA championships, where they placed fifth, and not long after Ianello was handed the keys to the program.

Where things stand now

Ianello’s eight years at the helm are the most for any Arizona women’s golf coach since Kim Haddow was head coach from 1984-95, and her recent results indicate she will hold onto the job as long as she wants. The 2018 squad won the NCAA title, then this past season it reached the semifinals before falling to eventual champion Duke.

Following the 2018 title, Ianello had her contract extended through the 2023 season. This past year she earned $125,000.

The past two years were a stark turnaround from 2017, when Arizona did not qualify for the NCAA championships for just the third time since 1995.

One big question

Who replaces Arizona’s big two? Two key members of the title team and last year’s semifinalist, Haley Moore and Bianca Pagdanganan have graduated, meaning a new crop of duffers are going to have to step up to try and keep things going for Arizona.

The only ones left from the 2018 title team are senior-to-be Sandra Nordaas and junior-to-be Yu-Sang Hou. Nordaas is coming off a career-best 74.61 scoring average in 2019 while Hou had Arizona’s best scoring average last year at 72.84.