SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Senior Kristy Ardavanis won the WAC 1-meter title as NAU took three of the top-five spots in the event and the Lumberjack swimmers finished second with program records in both relay events to lead after the first day of the WAC Championships. The NAU team point total stands at 118 after day one ahead of San Jose State at 101 and Idaho at 91.
"Kristy has been close before and for her to come out on top was awesome," NAU diving coach Nikki Huffman said. "Chelsea Jackson as a freshman to be third showed great composure and experience that was beyond her years of diving and Gwen Smithberg did a great job as third to fifth place was only a two point difference. It was just a great team effort."
After placing second behind Idaho's Paige Hunt in the 1-meter preliminary round, Ardavanis scored 291.10 in the final to top Hunt by seven points and win NAU's first WAC diving championship since 2008 and its first 1-meter WAC title since Blair Buder in 2004. Jackson totaled 270.70 to take third place by .10 over San Jose State's Amy Kilby, moving up from her fifth-place standing after the prelims, and Smithberg placed just behind in fifth with a 268.55 total as the Lumberjacks took three of the top-five spots on the board.
"In prelims I felt good but I just had really good feelings going into the final," Ardavanis said. "I just felt calm and had a good warm-up and was really feeling it so I nailed my dives. I'm really happy and it was awesome to have my team supporting me and it was super exciting to have Chelsea and Gwen right there with me too."
The NAU swimmers opened their WAC Championship with a program record time of 1:40.99 in the 200 medley relay from the quartet of senior Fi Connell, junior Jordan Burnes, sophomore Alexis Juergens, and senior Kelsey Loy. The squad placed first in their heat and finished second overall behind San Jose State's winning time of 1:40.08. NAU's time broke the previous school record of 1:41.93 set at the conference meet last season.
After winning the 800 free relay for the first WAC relay title in program history last season, NAU went faster this season in 7:17.93 but was narrowly out touched by San Jose State at 7:15.39. The Lumberjack team of junior Emma Lowther, junior Rachel Palmer, freshman Ellie Morrissey, and sophomore Caitlin Wright broke the previous school record of 7:18.32 set in 2011 at the WAC meet.
"The first relay really set the tone and gave a lot of the girls a lot of confidence," NAU head coach Andy Johns said. "The 800 relay was solid and we're real happy with where we are. Diving obviously put is in the position that we are in and we're looking forward to keeping it rolling tomorrow."
Thursday's slate includes the 50 and 500 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 200 free relay, and 3-meter diving with prelims beginning at 10 a.m. mountain time and finals commencing at 5:30 p.m.
WAC Championship Team Rankings - Through Day One
1. Northern Arizona - 118
2. San Jose State - 101
3. Idaho - 91
4. New Mexico State - 80
5. Denver - 71
6. Northern Colorado - 65
7. North Dakota - 51
8. CSU Bakersfield - 50
9. Seattle - 36