SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Northern Arizona swimming and diving held its position from Friday ending the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championship as the league's third best team this season. The Lumberjacks finished behind Boise State and Hawaii improving to a top three result after a fifth place finish last year.
The Lumberjacks entered the fourth and final day just 17 points ahead of fourth-place San Jose State. Saturday's lineup consisted of five individual events, platform diving, and 400 freestyle relay to close the championship meet.
The NAU women have excelled all season in distance events and proved once again they can compete with anyone in the Western Athletic Conference. The Lumberjacks placed three swimmers in the top eight in the 1,650 freestyle not to be outdone by a pair of school records which included a gold medal from sophomore Fi Connell in the 200 backstroke.
"The key to us staying in third was this morning session," said head coach Andy Johns. "We got ourselves into the championship finals in a lot of events. The mile was our strongest event of the night. That is the result of living and training at altitude. We have good kids that like to work hard. Overall it was a good performance for our team."
Saturday's lineup consisted of the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, and 1,650 (mile) freestyle. Platform diving and the 400 freestyle relay rounded out the championship meet events.
The women clinched the third spot behind top swims from freshman Emma Lowther, junior Krista Maier, and senior Vivian Landeck in the mile. Lowther earned a silver medal while Maier picked up a fourth place finish and Landeck ended in eighth, all scoring big points for the women on the final day of competition.
"We had a great meet all the way around," Johns said. "I am very happy to have placed in third. Boise State and Hawaii are very talented teams. But we had some school records, lifetime bests all around, and I am proud of our effort. We ended the year on a good note, and I think we sent our nine seniors out the right way."
Along with the mile results, the women had five swimmers post top eight performances. Sophomore Jaclyn Branning earned a bronze medal in the 200 breaststroke followed just behind freshman Jordan Burnes in fourth place.
Lowther finished sixth in the 200 butterfly while freshman Rachel Palmer was seventh in the 200 backstroke rounding out the Lumberjacks' top performances.
WAC Championship Final Results
Boise State, 835 points
Hawaii, 577 points
Northern Arizona, 535 points
San Jose State, 499 points
New Mexico State, 405 points
Nevada, 326 points
Fresno State, 276 points
Idaho, 213 points