KELLY: Can UA find a path to territorial success? - Tucson News Now

KELLY: Can UA find a path to territorial success?

Arizona State has had control of the Territorial Cup Series for the last three years (Photo courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics). Arizona State has had control of the Territorial Cup Series for the last three years (Photo courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics).
David Kelly was on the IMG College team at UA that helped come up with the Territorial Cup Series concept. David Kelly was on the IMG College team at UA that helped come up with the Territorial Cup Series concept.
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

I hate to say it but the Arizona Wildcats are in trouble in this year’s Territorial Cup Series.

And it started with such promise.

After being virtually shutout in the Fall sports in 2015-16, UA pulled off three wins to start this athletic year topping the Arizona State Sun Devils in Football, Soccer and Women’s Cross Country.

But that momentum came apart in the Winter sports thanks to stunning upsets by ASU in Gymnastics and Men’s Swimming.

UA had controlled those two sports since the competition began with the 2009-10 athletic year.

The Men’s Swimming team had never finished lower than the Sun Devils at the Pac-12 Championships, securing the point in all seven years of the series.

That changed this year when ASU finished fourth and UA fifth at the Pac-12 Championships.

UA Gymnastics had won the point five times in seven years.

Now with the Sun Devils leading 7.5-6.5 and six sports left to contend, the path for the Wildcats to end their three-year losing streak in the series is paved with road blocks.

The first school to 10.5 points wins.

UA is a heavy favorite in this weekend’s territorial clash on the softball diamond.

The Wildcats also figure to be favorites to win the baseball point. UA has already beaten ASU once this season but with still four more games to play.

Had the Wildcats held serve in Gymnastics and Men’s Swimming, wins in softball and baseball would have secured their path to 10.5.

Losing those sports though now puts Arizona in a position where it’s going to have to find some upsets of their own in the four sports where the Sun Devils figure to be favorites.

The Pac-12 Women’s Golf Championship, being played this week at Sewailo Golf Club here in Tucson, now becomes a must win for the Wildcats in the Territorial Cup Series.

UA is 6-1 in the Territorial Cup Series in Women’s Golf.

The Wildcats could use a rematch against ASU in Beach Volleyball this week at the Pac-12 Championships in Tucson. The Sun Devils stole an early season match from highly ranked UA but the Cats won a rematch in Tempe and victory in a third showdown would swing that point back into the Arizona column.

ASU figures to be the favorites to take the Men’s Golf, Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field points.

Ultimately this year’s Cup will be won or lost on the track.

ASU Women’s and Men’s Track enter the week ranked 27th (women) and 45th (men) respectively while UA is right behind on both sides at 29th and 46th.

In other words the two programs are about even outdoors which means it will come down to who brings their A-game to the Pac-12 Championships in Eugene next month (May 13-14).

We will get a preview of which school has the advantage when the two rivals compete on April 29 in their annual Duel in the Desert meet up in Tempe.

The Sun Devils swept the Duel last year but the Wildcats women’s team finished higher at the Pac-12 Championships and won the Territorial Cup Series point.

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