Wildcat hurdler dies following surgery

Published: Dec. 21, 2013 at 4:06 PM MST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2014 at 4:06 PM MST
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Tucson, AZ (KOLD) - Lezo Urreiztieta, a junior hurdler for the University of Arizona track team, passed away Thursday after complications during brain surgery.

His family released the following statement:

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Arizona track and field student-athlete Lezo Urreiztieta from complications following brain surgery. A junior from Tucson, Lezo competed in the hurdles under the direction of head coach Fred Harvey, and was a graduate of Canyon del Oro High School. In addition to his success on the track, Lezo was also an excellent student, twice earning academic all-conference honors. Lezo is survived by his parents, Izaro and Melissa Urreiztieta, and brother, Gaizka."

Urreiztieta was a stud on the track. As a senior at Canyon Del Oro high school, he won the state title in the 110 meter hurdles during his senior year, a campaign that also resulted in the school record for the same event. During his time as a Wildcat he clocked personal bests in both the 60 meter hurdles and 110 meter hurdles. Last season he took first place at the Lumberjack Team Challenge in the 60 meter hurdles with a PR a 8.18.

"We send our sincerest sympathies and deepest prayers to the family and friends of Lezo Urreiztieta," Athletics Director Greg Byrne said in a statement. "The unfortunate passing of someone so young and full of life affects us all. He was an excellent student, in addition to being a valued member of our track team and the Arizona Athletics community."

Urreiztieta had aspirations for much bigger things in life. According to his Wildcat biography his ultimate goal "to be a reconstructive plastic surgeon, so he can help people who have been in serious accidents." His academic standing was consistently strong and resulted in Pac-12 All-Academic honors.

The bio on his twitter page reads one line: The future belongs to those who prepare today. While his future was cut short, Urreiztieta seemed to have an impact on those who knew him.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Lezo Urreiztieta," head coach Fred Harvey said in a statement. "He was an important part of our Wildcat family and his passion for life and our sport will be truly missed. We extend our support and condolences to his family and friends for their loss. Lezo was proud to be a Wildcat."

Urreiztieta is survived by his father Izaro, his mother Melissa, and his brother Gaizka.