FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After a break for Thanksgiving the NAU swimming & diving team (3-2 in duals) will host WAC foe New Mexico State (2-2 in duals) at 11 a.m. Saturday in Wall Aquatic Center in its penultimate home competition during the 2012-13 season. The Lumberjacks are 2-0 at home this season with wins over Arizona State and Northern Colorado.
"New Mexico State is probably our closest rival," NAU head coach Andy Johns said. "We've been going back and forth with us winning at home and them winning at home over the last several years so the girls want to win. We're just working hard and looking forward to facing a quality opponent on Saturday."
The NAU swimmers have not competed since Nov. 10 at Idaho, where the team took a defeat after losing a close battle the previous day at Washington State. The Lumberjacks were missing several swimmers, including senior Fi Connell and freshman Kendall Brown, when they last competed as they should be closer to a full roster this weekend.
The Lumberjack divers competed more recently at the Arizona Diving Invite in Tucson Nov. 16-18. Senior Kristy Ardavanis was limited to just one day of competition in the event due to illness but advanced to the consolation final and placed third on 1-meter. Ardavanis has the top 1-meter and 3-meter scores in the WAC this season while junior Gwen Smithberg has the top platform score in the conference after she placed sixth in the event at the Wildcat Diving Invite with a score of 216.00.
Brown continues to lead the WAC in the 1000 freestyle with a conference-best time of 10:14.53 and Connell has the top 100 and 200 backstroke times on the team this season. Other team top times have come from junior Emma Lowther in the 100, 200 and 500 free, junior Jordan Burnes in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, and junior Rachel Palmer in the 200 butterfly and 200 and 400 individual medleys. Sophomore Alexis Juergens has the top time in the 100 fly and freshman Ellie Morrissey has led the team in the 50 and 100 free sprint events.
"I never expected to come in as a freshman and be winning events," said Morrissey on the Lumberjacks Weekly Podcast. "Looking up and seeing your name with a one next to it as a freshman is kind of scary but I'm really looking forward to conference and hopefully NCAA's. New Mexico State is a team that matches us in almost every event so I think it will be a really good meet competing against girls that have the same skill set that we do."
The Aggies have earned dual wins this season over Air Force and Colorado State while falling to San Diego State and New Mexico – a team NAU defeated in Albuquerque earlier this season. New Mexico State, which placed fourth at the WAC Championships last season, last competed at the Houston Invitational Nov. 15-17, placing 10th out of 15 teams in the three-day meet. NMSU sophomore Jessica Legge has the top 100 breast time in the WAC this season in 1:03.06 and has the second best times in the 200 breast and the 200 IM.
The Lumberjacks and Aggies met twice in duals last season, with New Mexico State scoring a win in Las Cruces before NAU topped NMSU in a quad dual at Arizona. Northern Arizona holds a 22-5 advantage in the all-time series.
All NAU Swimming & Diving meets in Wall Aquatic Center are FREE to attend.