Top senior student-athletes provide success, stability for several UA sports
During the second inning, Taylor McQuillin (18) pitches during the Arizona-Alabama on Saturday Feb. 16 in Tucson, Ariz. in the Hillenbrand Stadium. The Wildcats lost to Alabama 1-6.
Being a senior student-athlete comes with a lot of responsibility. Many are looked upon as their team leaders, to guide their teammates through times of strife and times of victory while also looking to figure out their future beyond college. Our Daily Wildcat sports writers picked their top senior in their respective beat to write about and how they contributed to the UA’s success:
This year’s top senior on the softball team is Taylor McQuillin. In her final season as a senior, McQuillin has achieved milestones and memorable moments with her team and teammates. As of May 4, she has posted a 1.21 ERA (fourth place in Pac-12) with a record of 19-5. Starting 22 games, the southpaw has 20 complete games with 10 shutouts, one save and has 157 strikeouts, which ranks fifth in Pac-12 play. The senior was recently picked No. 6 overall in the National Pro Fastpitch College Draft, where she will be taking her talents to the Cleveland Comets. McQuillin was the only member of the senior class to be drafted to go pro.
Justin Wylie, now a graduate transfer from San Diego State, had quite the start to his first (and only) year with the Wildcats, as he was named the program’s summer player of the year by head coach Jay Johnson. Wylie was primarily used as a role player for the most part to begin the season as he only started four of the first 13 games with the Wildcats. However, Wylie’s hard work and determination led him to becoming a full-time starter in the Wildcats’ lineup. Through the team’s first 42 games, Wylie was hitting .269 with four doubles and 18 RBIs over 67 at-bats.
Although Destiny Graham’s production might have gone down in her senior campaign, her presence on the court could not have been more important. She served as one of the guiding lights for a young Arizona front court that included Semaj Smith and Cate Reese. Head coach Adia Barnes, along with both Smith and Reese, credited her numerous times throughout the season in helping them on and off the court, putting them in the right positions, giving quick tips on the court and helping them stay grounded and calm. She’ll finish her Wildcat career with 563 total points, 484 rebounds and over 200 total minutes played.
After suffering a season-ending ankle injury last season, senior star Alec Moen returned to pave the way for a successful lacrosse season. Moen played in 13 games this season and scored 19 overall goals before finishing his final home game by scoring a goal against the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels. Moen graduates this May with a degree in sports and society and plans to head to Phoenix, where he said he will “hone his skills in medical sales.”
Arizona beach volleyball capped off a record-setting season with a 25-6 overall record in 2019, making it the most single-season wins in program history. Part of team’s success is due to the contributions of senior Madison Rigdon. After being a three-time All-Big 12 performer and two-time AVCA All-American honorable mention playing indoor volleyball at the University of Kansas, Rigdon moved to Arizona as a graduate transfer to play beach volleyball. She picked up right where she left off, finishing with a 25-4 individual record with wins against Cal Poly, Florida State, ASU and Washington. She also went 21-0 this past season with her partner Natalie Anselmo, which was good enough to be the top-ranked pair in the country.
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