FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The NAU swimming & diving team has received commitments from three swimmers and two divers to join the program for the 2013-14 season. Four of the signees hail from California with one newcomer from Arizona as the new additions will help offset the loss of four seniors following this season.
"They definitely fill our needs with respect to our graduating seniors," head coach Andy Johns said. "We feel good about the group that will be joining us and think that they can come in and help us score points at the conference championship. The class as a whole for the early signing period is one of the best we've had in recent years."
Caitlin Baker (Newhall, Calif./Saugus HS), Sara Lenhoff (Santee, Calif./Santana HS), and Kathryn Palomino (Tempe, Ariz./Chandler HS) are the three swimming additions to the program while Alexa Geiger (Fullerton, Calif./Troy HS) and Casey Rakauskas (Calabasas, Calif./Calabasas HS) join the program as divers.
Baker was a three-time CIF qualifier and a member of school record-holding 200 medley relay team in. She also was a two-time recipient of school's Record Breaker Award and Centurian Award while specializing in the breaststroke and individual medley and served one year as her team's captain.
"Caitlin comes in with a great training background and has competed in triathlons," Johns said, "She really fits our mold of IM'ers and breaststrokers in the vein of Jordan Burnes and Stirling Smith and Monica Pruett."
Lenhoff recorded a 4.74 high school GPA and was a two-year scholastic All-American at Santana HS. She holds the school records in the 100 back and 200 IM, was the 2012 San Diego Section CIF champion in the 100 back for Division II, and was a three-time Grossmont Valley League Swimmer of the Year.
"Sara is a great backstroker and that was a huge need for us with Fi Connell graduating," Johns said. "She's a great student and great swimmer from a great family."
The only Arizonan among the program's fall signees, Palomino is a freestyle swimmer who was a member of Chandler High School's record 4x100 free, 4x50 free and 4x50 medley relay teams. She finished in the top-eight at the high school state meet her freshman, sophomore and senior years and was named team MVP her sophomore, junior and senior years.
"Kathryn is a developing young talent," Johns said. "She's going to be a great addition to our group of 200 and 500 freestylers. She's doing a lot of great things in Phoenix now and we're excited to get a semi-local person up here."
On the diving boards, coach Nikki Huffman brought in a pair of recruits that she thinks can compete at the top of the Western Athletic Conference. Alexa Geiger dove for the Pacific Diving Academy as well as her high school team and was the AAU National 3-meter synchronized diving champion in 2012 as well as a national top-12 AAU finalist on 1-meter. Her Troy High School team was two-time undefeated league champions and she was a top-15 CIF finalist in 2012. She began as a gymnast and was a level 8 regional all-around gymnastics champion in 2008.
"Alexa hasn't been diving as long but has made the transition as an ex-gymnast," Huffman said. "She's a great diamond in the rough as she already has solid lists on both boards and has done some tower. She's only been diving for a couple of years and to be that strong already will be a great addition for us that can score at the conference meet immediately."
Geiger was also considering Arizona State and Kansas while Rakauskas was also recruited by Arizona, UCLA, San Diego State, and UC Santa Barbara. She holds her high school record in the 1-meter, was a 2012 NICSA/Speedo All-American, and was a three-time AAU Diving National Qualifier (2010-12) on both 1-meter and 3-meter. Her team was the 2012 Girls Swimming and Diving CIF Academic Team Champions and she also dove for the UCLA Bruin Dive team.
"I've watched Casey dive at the club meets over the last couple of years and she's really improved," Huffman said. "I think she is going to be a great addition as she was highly recruited by a lot of big teams. She's got a really solid 3-meter list and 1-meter list and has some experience on platform as well and she can score for us immediately."
"For all of these girls it was just the right fit," Johns added. "When they came on unofficial visits and official visits they fit really well with our team and really liked Flagstaff so we're really happy they are coming here."