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January 5, 2012

Swimming & Diving to Face Three Major Schools in Tucson

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The NAU swimming & diving team (5-2 in duals) will face three programs from major conferences at 2 p.m. Friday in a multi-meet in Tucson. Along with host No. 5 Arizona, the Lumberjacks will also face Oregon State from the Pac-12 and Iowa from the Big Ten. Fellow WAC member New Mexico State will also be competing in the meet, though the Lumberjacks will not be scoring against the Aggies.

"We're looking to see how the girls get up to race after a hard week of training," said head coach Andy Johns, whose team has been training in Tucson since Sunday. "We'll be facing quality competition, so the girls will need to respond to tough challenges across the board. We're trying to win, so we'll go with our strongest lineup and it will be good to see how it turns out."

The Lumberjacks last competed at the UNLV Winter Invitational Dec. 17-19, taking second place ahead of New Mexico State and seven other schools. Junior Fi Connell recorded the first NCAA provisional 'B' time for the Lumberjacks this season, winning the 200 backstroke in 1 minute, 58.11 seconds on the final day of the meet. Sophomore Emma Lowther won the 500 and 1650 freestyle events, with the fastest times in the WAC this season, along with several other quality swims in Las Vegas and subsequently earned Verizon WAC Swimmer of the Week honors. NAU swept the most recent conference awards, with junior Kristy Ardavanis named Diver of the Week for the fourth time this season after winning the 1-meter competition during the meet.

Northern Arizona scored a 160-133 win over Oregon State in Tucson last season in what was the second all-time win over a Pac-12 team in program history (NAU got its third Pac-12 win earlier this season against Washington State). The Beavers and Lumberjacks will be meeting in Tucson for the seventh-consecutive season. NAU is 0-18 all-time vs Arizona, including a 157-122 loss last year, and will be facing Iowa for the first time in program history.

Arizona is 5-0 in duals and is ranked No. 5 nationally in the most recent CollegeSwimming.com/CSCAA coaches poll, with several of the fastest times in the country this season along with multiple NCAA championship qualifiers. Iowa, which is 3-2 in duals and has only faced one opponent outside of the Big Ten so far this season, has been led by freshman Becky Stoughton, who has recorded NCAA 'B' qualifying times in four different events. Oregon State is 1-3 and sent three swimmers to the USA Nationals meet at the beginning of December, while New Mexico State is 2-2 and will be competing with NAU for the third-consecutive meet.