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Connell Wins Gold, Harris Silver on Day Three at WAC Championships

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Freshman swimmer Fi Connell claimed a gold medal and school record with a lifetime-best, 54.61, in the 100-yard backstroke on day three of the WAC Championships in the Josh Davis Natatorium on Friday. Sophomore diver Taryn Harris finished with a silver medal on the 1-meter.

“We are battling,” said head coach Andy Johns. “We are showing some toughness and resolve. We are happy. We seem to be getting better each session and hopefully that trend continues.”

After starting the day in fifth place, NAU swimming and diving is now positioned in fourth place after first, second, and two third-place finishes in the six events on Friday. NAU trails New Mexico State for third-place by 16 points.

Senior Kimber Morelli and sophomore Kristin Jones started the night off for NAU with positive results finishing eighth and ninth in the 400-yard individual medley, respectively.

Senior Rachael Foe swam a season-best, 55.87, finishing with a bronze medal in the 100-yard butterfly. Foe entered the event as the fifth seed but improved her seed time by just over a second.

Connell was seeded as the third seed entering the 100-yard backstroke final and turned in the top performance of the season for the Lumberjacks.

“Fi’s swim was the highlight of the night,” Johns said. “She set a school record and earned a WAC Championship. She really swam well. It was nice to see that.”

Harris finished second on the 1-meter springboard with a score of 278.25, just .05 points ahead of third-place finisher Aniesa Debaji from Nevada. Harris held her position after turning in the second-best score in the prelims.

“We had 60 points from our divers,” Johns said of diving coach Nikki Huffman’s team that has scored big points for NAU all season. “Taryn Harris finishing second is a nice accomplishment for Nikki and all the divers. They did an outstanding job.”

Friday’s finals closed with a bronze medal for NAU on the 400-yard medley relay. The group consisted of Connell, T.J. Williams, Foe, and Claire Ferro.

“The team had a good day,” said Johns. “We are hoping we can have another good day and maybe try to catch another team or two.”

The WAC Championships continue on Saturday, February 27 at 10 a.m. (MST) with the preliminary events for the 200-yard backstroke, 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard breaststroke, and 200-yard butterfly. The 3-meter diving will begin at noon (MST).

Following the prelims, the finals will once again start at 5:30 p.m. (MST) and can be seen live on www.WAC.tv. Fans can keep up with live stats through www.wacsports.com as well.

WAC Championship Standings

1. Boise State 420
2. San Jose State 352
3. New Mexico State          320
4. Northern Arizona 306
5. Nevada 298
6. Hawai'i 261
7. San Diego 260
8. Idaho 159
9. Fresno State 154

DID YOU KNOW …. The Lumberjacks’ 3.16 cumulative GPA was the highest since department grades have been tracked starting in 1997 and marked the 11th semester in the last 12 overall the NAU student-athletes have recorded a 3.0 cumulative GPA. Since 1998, NAU student-athletes have recorded a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher in 21 of 23 semesters.

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