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Wildcat Wrap: Arizona women’s golf in hunt for NCAA Championships berth

2019 East Lake Cup - Day 3 Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

In between the conclusion of Pac-12 Championships and the start of NCAA Regionals, Arizona women’s golf coach Laura Ianello knew she needed to keep her team as prepared as possible.

What better way to do that than playing a round at Scottsdale’s Grayhawk Golf Club, the home of this year’s NCAA Championships?

The Wildcats drove up to Grayhawk a couple weeks ago and got acquainted with the scenic golf course, where they hope to compete for a national title later this month.

First, Arizona needs to get through Regionals, which is turning out to be quite a challenge.

The UA enters the final day of the Stanford Regional in seventh place, one shot behind sixth place Florida. The top six teams advance to the NCAA Championships, meaning Arizona needs to pass the Gators or another school to keep its season alive.

Through two rounds, the No. 22 Wildcats are 10-over-par. Yu Sang Hou leads the team individually at one-under, while sister Vivian Hou is two-over.

Vivian, a sophomore, entered the 2020-2021 season as the top amateur golfer in the world but has been hampered by a torn hip labrum.

“She needs surgery right now, and she has been gutting out this entire season playing every round of golf, every step in a lot of pain,” Ianello said last week. “So it just shows you how much heart that there is, and these ladies want to compete and they want to compete for a championship.”

Arizona has had to rely extra hard on the Hou sisters this spring to make up for the lack of depth on this team’s roster. The Wildcats are effectively down to five golfers, the minimum needed to a field a tournament team.

If Arizona is to advance to the NCAA Championships and excel at Grayhawk, it will need more from junior Ya Chun Changand sophomores Gile Bite Starkute and Therese Warner. The trio have all shown glimpses of their potential but also struggled with consistency.

Men’s tennis

Arizona men’s tennis is preparing for its first ever NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 matchup, which will come against No. 3 seed Tennessee Monday in Orlando.

The Wildcats are coming off a historic 4-2 victory over No. 14 seed Kentucky.

Senior Alejandro Reguant broke the program’s overall wins record in defeating his opponent, while Junior Jonas Zivertsclinched the match with an upset victory over the No. 14 individual player in the country.

Tennessee is a different animal. The Volunteers boast the nation’s No. 8, 10, 41, 92, and 115 ranked players. Arizona, by comparison, has two players nationally ranked: freshman Gustaf Strom at No. 45 and Ziverts at No. 90.

Arizona will need to be nearly flawless to have a chance at pulling off the upset.

Track and field

Men’s and women’s track and field will compete at the Pac-12 Championships in Los Angeles beginning Friday and concluding Sunday.

Arizona should be in the mix to win several events, including the high jump, where Lillian Lowe and Justice Summerset will be seen as top contender.

Samantha Noennig is the favorite to win the women’s shot put, having set the top NCAA mark this outdoor season.

On the men’s side, plenty of attention will be on Israel Oloyedein the hammer throw and Johnnie Blockburger in the 400m sprint. Both athletes have set school records in their respective events this spring.