It looks like the University of Arizona track & field program is taking a “shop at home” approach to its recruiting.
The Wildcats will add 16 newcomers to its roster for the 2011-12 season and just four of those are in-state recruits. But all four are from Tucson high schools.
Some of the best high school track teams in Arizona are located on the other side of Casa Grande, including Chandler High, which just won its second straight national title. But the Cats seem content to mine the talent in their own backyard.
This particular haul includes a couple of state champions: Shakayla McEaddy is a jumper and sprinter from Catalina Foothills High who won state titles last year in the triple jump and high jump, and Dylan Souza is a top middle distance competitor from the same school.
Souza, who was named the 2011 Tucson Citizen Southern Arizona Track Athlete of the Year, won the state title last year in the 800-meter run and was runner-up in the 400 meters. He also ran the anchor leg of the state champion 4×400 relay team.
McEadddy is scheduled to begin training to represent UofA in the heptathlete events.
The other Tucson athletes include Haley Stenquist, a distance runner from Sabino High School who finished as an All American at the USA Junior Championships in the 3,000 meters and third in the Arizona Cross Country Championships, and Lezo Urreiztieta from Canyon Del Oro High, who was the state champion last year in the 110 hurles. Urreitztieta will be a walk-on next season.
“We filled our squad with some good multi-event people, heptathletes, and decathletes that are going to cover a lot of different areas and are able to come in and be impact people right away,” says head coach, Fred Harvey.
Harvey is coming off a good year, after which he was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year for his work with both the men’s and women’s programs, and UST&F and Cross Country Coaches Association Coach of the Year for the West Region.
Both squads enjoyed runner-up finishes at the Pac-10 Championships last season and went on to earn a fifth place (women) and seventh place (men) at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The women’s finish was the third-best in program history; the men’s 112 points were the second-highest ever.
A couple of Arizona athletes also pulled down individual honors. Brigetta Barrett, the indoor and outdoor national champion in the high jump, was named Pac-10 Athlete of the Year on the women’s side. And distance runner Stephen Sambu, who transferred in from Rend Lake Community College last year and was the conference champion in the 10,000-meter run, was honored as the Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year.
(Photo: Arizona Athletics)