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Swimming and Diving Set for 2010 WAC Championships

Schedule of Events

Championship Information

Record Book

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona swimming and diving team reaches the apex of its season on Wednesday with the start of the 2010 Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championships in San Antonio, Texas. The meet is a four-day event featuring the top swimmers and divers in the conference and serves as a final opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championships in March.

Swimming and diving has finished runner-up in the past two championships meets, narrowly falling to Nevada last year by 16 points. The women will be led by a talented core of swimmers and arguably the deepest diving team in the conference with all six performers capable of scoring points for the Lumberjack team. A preview of both teams follows.

Diving
The women’s diving team has enjoyed a dominant season picking up four Verizon Wireless Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Diver of the Week awards and holds the top scores on the 1-meter and 3-meter this season. The Lumberjacks hold the two best scores on the 1-meter with juniors Lana Christensen and Taryn Harris turning in top performances throughout the season. Harris has turned in the No. 1 score on the 3-meter with four Lumberjacks in the top 10 on that springboard height. Freshman Kristy Ardavanis enjoyed a breakout freshman season posting the fifth-best 3-meter score and ninth-best on the 1-meter.

Head Coach Andy Johns…
“For us the biggest individual part of this meet is diving. We have six divers that we think are all going to score. There are not three individual events where we are going to score as many points as we are in those three diving events."

Sprints
At last year’s WAC Championships, senior Rachael Foe set the school record in the 50 freestyle (22.95) and earned All-WAC second team honors with a fifth place finish in the 100 freestyle. This year, Foe holds the seventh fastest time in the 50 free entering the championship meet. Meredith Egloria swam in two relays last year at the championship meet and will be asked to step up this year in the individual sprints. She holds the second fastest  NAU times in the 50 and 100 this season. The 50 free will be held on Thursday and the 100 free on Saturday.

Head Coach Andy Johns…
“The sprint freestyles are going to be big for us obviously with Rachael Foe and Meredith Egloria. We are looking to get some nighttime swims there. I think we can hold our own with Rachael there and everything else is bonus. The sprint freestyles are so competitive throughout the conference. You just have to be on, right from the start on Thursday morning.”

Middle Distance
The Lumberjacks may be at their deepest in the middle distance events particularly the 200 and 500 freestyles. NAU will look to Krista Maier and Vivian Landeck in the 200 and Kristin Jones and Claire Ferro in the 500 to post top times in the preliminary events and advance to the finals. The 500 free will open the swimming portion of the meet as the first event on Thursday morning while the 200 free will take place as the third event on Friday morning.

Head Coach Andy Johns…
“As we get into middle distances, the 200 and 500, we have a strong number of five or six potential scorers in each of those events. We really need those girls to get some nighttime swims. Qualifying in the morning and being able to come back in the evening is key. We have done a good job of that. The 500 freestyle is the first event on Thursday morning. We always have someone that lights it up and gets things rolling for everyone. That is a big event for us and it starts to get people in the right frame of mind. We just have to get people scoring for us.”

Distance
The 1650 freestyle, or mile event, is another race the Lumberjacks could finish well in with Kristin Jones and Krista Maier seeded with times inside the top 16. Training at 7,000-feet has helped NAU swimming produce consistent breakout times at sea level in the middle distance and distance events at the WAC Championships in the last couple years. The Lumberjacks also have two other competitors in Kate Schafer and Danielle Palbykin whom could surprise and finish inside the top 16 on Thursday.

Head Coach Andy Johns…
“The mile is on the last day. We generally do very well. The altitude factor kicks in and it is the same basic crew in the middle distances. We should be able to hold our own against most people in the conference in the freestyle events including the relays. That covers a lot of events so it should be a strong point for us.”

Butterfly
Rachael Foe returns with the 100 butterfly, an event she recently broke the pool record in at the Wall Aquatic Center in early February. Foe holds the sixth-fastest time in the WAC this season at this distance. Foe will be joined by senior Kristen Hamilton who earned All-WAC second team in the event last year with a fourth overall finish. In the 200 butterfly, Kimber Morelli will be counted on to place for NAU being the only competitor in the field. She also earned All-WAC second team in the event in 2009.  The 100 butterfly is slated for Friday while the 200 will be held on Saturday.

Head Coach Andy Johns…

“The 100 butterfly we have Rachael Foe and Kristen Hamilton. We are a little weak there with injuries.  That has not helped us. Again, when you have Rachael Foe in an event its going to be a strong one for you. Kimber Morelli is our only entrant in the 200 butterfly. She has been solid all year long. She has been our only entrant for a lot of times this year. She was a finalist last year and we are hoping for the same type result again this year.”

Backstroke
NAU’s best opportunity to medal in its swimming events rests on the youthful shoulders of freshman Fi Connell, who holds the second fastest time in the 100 backstroke and third fastest in the 200 backstroke. She was the only Lumberjack swimmer to earn Verizon Wireless WAC Swimmer of the Week and did so twice. She was one of four  athletes in the conference to be selected swimmer of the week in multiple weeks. The Lumberjacks have  excellent depth in the backstrokes with 10 entrees in the two events.  The backstrokes will take place on consecutive days beginning with the 100 back on Friday.

Head Coach Andy Johns…
“Fi Connell is our top backstroker. She’s been that all year long and we expect big things out of her in the 200 backstroke. Claire Ferro finaled in the 200 back two years ago and Chalene Dirks-Ryan finaled last year so with those three it could be a huge event for us. If Fi swims as well as we hope she can swim we may be looking at an NCAA qualifier there. The 100 backstroke is potentially a big event for us with four or five that could produce positive results as well.”

Breaststroke
Head coach Andy Johns has used the tandem of Jessi Jones and T.J. Williams all season in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, and the senior duo will be counted on to reach the finals and score in any way possible. The breasstroke has been an area without much depth as freshman breaststroker Jaclyn Branning has been used in the individual medleys and other events throughout the year. Branning will be used as a 200 breaststroke specialist on Saturday. The 100 breast will take place on Friday.

Head Coach Andy Johns…
“In the 100 breaststroke we have Jessi Jones and T.J. Williams. We need them to score, to make it back at night somehow some way. The 200 breaststroke we add in Jaclyn Branning. If she shows the form she had out of high school, Jackie is potentially a dark horse to show up big. She could make a huge difference there.”

Individual Medleys
Fi Connell and Kristin Jones will lead NAU in the individual medleys. Connell holds the conference’s 11th-best time in the 200 IM and will look for a top eight finish for the Lumberjacks in her third individual event. Jones, who may be the Lumberjacks’ most versatile swimmer appearing in 10 different individual events this year, turned in the 12th-best 400 IM time and could also post a top finish in the finals.

Head Coach Andy Johns…
“In the individual medleys, we think Fi could be a top eight scorer and we are hoping that Jackie and T.J. can make it into the top 16 and find a way to score some points for us. The 200 IM seems to be a pretty wide open event. In the 400 IM, Kristin Jones was a finalist last year and Kimber would have been a finalist had it not been an exhibition swim. They need to be top eight if we want to be in the type of team position we think we can be in.”

DID YOU KNOW ... Northern Arizona combined the best of both worlds during the 2008-09 academic year with a Top 100 United States Sports Academy Directors Cup standing.  NAU ranked among the top 1000 for the sixth time in the last seven seasons and 11th overall in the last 13 years.