Arizona’s fall sports are ramping up to begin soon. Here are some of the athletes from each sport that fans should familiarize themselves with and watch for on game day.
Women’s Soccer - Gabi Stoian, midfielder (senior)
This season could be a historic one for Arizona’s Gabi Stoian. The 2014 Arizona Gatorade Athlete of the Year has scored 24 goals and tallied 20 assists during her first three seasons as a Wildcat.
Stoian needs only seven more goals and four assists to tie the program’s records. During the team’s five spring games, she helped lead Arizona to a 5-0 record, knocking in three goals and collecting three assists. When late August arrives, her record chase is on.
Women’s Cross Country - Claire Green (senior)
Last year, Claire Green finished as one of the top runners on the women’s team, placing top-20 overall in all five races she competed in. She took home a first-place finish in front of the home crowd at the Dave Murray Invitational in Tucson and finished 12th at the NCAA West Regional. Green was also named to the West All-Regional team.
Men's Cross Country - Carlos Villarreal (redshirt junior)
Carlos Villarreal is looking to make big strides in his third season. The winner of the 2014 Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year in Arizona redshirted his freshman year, and a recovery from a knee injury slowed him down in 2016. However, Villarreal had a promising track and field season in the spring, so a breakout cross country performance is certainly in the cards.
Men’s Golf - George Cunningham (senior)
George Cunningham hasn’t had quite the success that many thought he would have in his first three seasons, but there is reason to believe that his best is yet to come.
Arriving at Arizona in 2014 as the No. 2 rated golfer in the country by Golfweek, Cunningham had a stellar freshman campaign, being named to the All-Pac-12 second team and the All-Pac-12 freshman team. He also tied the UA’s all-time freshman single season record for stroke average with a 71.6.
A tailbone injury forced Cunningham to miss almost all of his sophomore year. However, his junior year indicated a return to form as he posted a team-best 73.06 stroke average. If he stays healthy, Cunningham should be among the Pac-12’s top golfers.
Women’s Swimming and Diving - Katrina Konopka (junior)
Katrina Konopka has excelled in a variety of races, including the 50m free, 100m free and even relay team events. Her strong performances earned her a 16th place finish at the NCAA Championships last year. Konopka should form the backbone of a swim program looking to rebuild.
Men's Swimming and Diving - Justin Wright (senior)
With Augie Busch heading back to Arizona — this time to be the swim program’s head coach — he’ll be counting on some experienced swimmers to power both the men’s and women’s teams.
Wright is a senior who owns the school record in the 200m freestyle butterfly and won last year’s Arizona’s Junior Male Athlete of the Year.
Volleyball - Kendra Dahlke, outside hitter (junior)
Head coach Dave Rubio will be trying to find a new top outside-hitter this season after All-American Kalei Mau graduated in the spring. The person most likely to fill that role is Kendra Dahlke, who is entering the season as a junior and should be Arizona’s top offensive weapon.
In 2016, she totaled at least 10 kills in 28 of the 32 matches she competed in, tying for fourth-most in UA single-season history. Dahlke finished her sophomore year with a team-high 496 kills and her 3.97 kills/set ranked fourth in the Pac-12.
Football - Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, safety (junior)
In a season that was painful to endure, safety Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles turned out to be one of the standouts on the Arizona defense last year. Flannigan-Fowles tied the team-high in interceptions and is the team’s leading returner in tackles.
Recently, he was named the Pac-12’s top playmaking safety and the second best returning player in pass coverage by Pro Football Focus. Flannigan-Fowles will need to patrol the secondary if Arizona hopes to be competitive defensively this year. If he can continue his growth from a year ago, he should be up to the task.
Men’s Basketball- Allonzo Trier, shooting guard (junior)
A season ago, the 6’5 shooting guard led Arizona with 17.2 points per game and 46 percent from the field and was one of the main contributors to Arizona’s success down the stretch.
Trier missed the first 19 games of the season due to a PED suspension and kept him from having the full breakout year that many people expected.
The Seattle, WA native will have his shot at redemption this season and enters his junior year with expectations higher than ever surrounding him. There’s a good probability that Trier is an early candidate for Pac-12 Player of the Year and even National Player of the Year.
Trier’s first two seasons haven’t ended the way he had hoped for, but maybe third time’s the charm.