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Battle of the Editors: Steven Covella vs. Emma Coghlan

By Steven Covella and Emma Coghlan

Sept. 23, 2012 9:43 a.m.

Every so often, there is just an overwhelming number of hot topics enveloping the UCLA sports scene. Right now, as the school year kicks off, we cast predictions on how teams and players will perform in the coming months. Read about golf, baseball, soccer and basketball in the latest edition of the recurring showdown between DB Sports senior staffers.

Many UCLA teams lost key players after last season, which team is best suited to come back from that?

Steven Covella: The men’s golf team suffered arguably the biggest loss of all of last year’s teams when Patrick Cantlay went professional after his sophomore season. Cantlay, though, cast a large shadow over talented golfers including seniors Pontus Widegren and Pedro Figueiredo. The two seniors will look to step into Cantlay’s role on the course, while a talented group of underclassmen will compete for spots.

Emma Coghlan: Definitely baseball. If any coach can talk his team through a loss of players, it’s John Savage. He’s got the wisdom to get his team through it, especially after they made it through to Omaha last season. Along with a veteran pitching staff and some solid sophomore and junior position players, there’s a good chance that UCLA can bounce back from losing most of their in and outfield.

Who will be the breakout athlete of the year?

Steven Covella: This one may not qualify as a breakout athlete so much as one to watch, but keep an eye on women’s basketball’s Markel Walker. Walker was great last year, averaging 14.9 points and 11 rebounds per game, but the team largely belonged to then-senior Rebekah Gardner. Now Walker, a senior guard/forward, should be handed the reins of the team, and will have even more opportunities to show off her diverse and talented skill set.

Emma Coghlan: I have to go with baseball again ““ Brenton Allen. He was seldom used in his first two years with the program, but Allen will likely have a chance to start games since the MLB draft drained UCLA of almost all its starting position players. I think he’s poised for good things ““ he didn’t get many starts but was clutch as a pinch hitter in late innings, especially at the vital end of the Bruins’ 2012 season. It’s Allen’s time to shine.

Who’s going to win a title?

Steven Covella: Women’s soccer. They would probably be a fitting choice for the first question as well, after losing Team USA member Syndey Leroux from last season. The Bruins have had no trouble picking up where they left off with Leroux, though. Through eight games this season, UCLA was undefeated and averaged 2.7 goals per game. Last season, they lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament, but look for them in the title game this season.

Emma Coghlan: Men’s volleyball is set to take a title this year. The team staggered last season in Al Scates’ final year as coach, but I think that new coach John Speraw ““ who coached 2012’s title winning team, Irvine ““ will bring a new life into the program with much of the same talent. They will come out as a new team in 2013 and take the title.

If you had to pick one athlete to represent you in the Hunger Games, who would it be?

Steven Covella: I think the most ideal trait in a Hunger Games contestant is versatility. Who is better defined by the word than junior outside linebacker Anthony Barr? Barr moved from an F-back on offense to a starter on defense. Not only has Barr made the transition, but he’s thrived in his new position. The speed, strength and agility he’s shown rushing the passer this season would be perfect in the Games. Not to mention the intelligence it takes to succeed at a completely different position than he’s played his whole career. Watch out District 12.

Emma Coghlan: Without a doubt I would take Zakiya Bywaters. Strong, fast, and perfect aim ““ the senior forward on the women’s soccer team would be able to escape her competitors and make for a pretty good attack. Her instincts and attitude would put her in a perfect position to beat out any Hunger Games competition. Others might go with huge football players but I’d take agility over brute force any day.

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