FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona swimming & diving team hits the road for the first time this season as it travels to the Centennial State to face Northern Colorado and Colorado State Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 12 p.m. respectively. It will not mark the first road trip of the season for the Lumberjacks, but also the first time they will compete on consecutive days, which is something they will need to get acclimated to.
"It's preparation for what we have to do in Vegas (for the UNLV Invite in two weeks) and in San Antonio (for the WAC Championships), so we have to get ready to swim back-to-back," said head coach Andy Johns. "Being on the road will be a little different for us, but we're excited with what has been happening at home the last couple of weeks and we look forward to carrying that with us to Colorado."
The Lumberjacks take a 2-0 record into the week following a convincing 175-125 victory over Idaho last Saturday. NAU claimed first in eight of the 14 individual events in defeating Idaho and were led by senior Emma Lowther and junior Alexis Juergens, who each won two events. Lowther won both the 400 and 800 free events against the Vandals while Juergens set the Wall Aquatic Center record in the 100 fly in addition to winning the 50 free. Lowther, Juergens and sophomore Kendall Brown have each won three individual events so far through two dual meets. Freshman Caitlin Baker has also won the 200 breast in both meets to open up her collegiate career while sophomore diver Chelsea Jackson has won on the 1-meter board twice.
Lowther's converted time of 5:02.07 is currently the top time in the Western Athletic Conference in the 500 free. Together with Brown's conference-leading time of 10:12.20 in the 1,000 free, the Lumberjacks own two top-times in the conference. Thirteen different Lumberjacks own top-10 times in the conference heading into the team's third week of competition.
To keep its record unblemished, NAU will first need to take down a WAC opponent for the second consecutive meet. Northern Colorado is 1-3 this season after falling to New Mexico and New Mexico State last weekend, but it won its only home meet back on Oct. 21 over Nebraska Omaha. The Bears are led by Gina Riggle, the WAC's reigning Women's Swimmer of the Week. Riggle won all four breaststroke events last week and owns the conference's second fastest time in the 100 and 200 breaststroke.
Colorado State is 1-2 and has not competed in the last three weeks. The Rams are led by Yana Garvey who owns two top-five backstroke times in the Mountain West Conference. They also boast a strong diving unit that has not failed to take first in either the 1-meter or 3-meter through their first three dual meets of the season.
"Northern Colorado has got some good swimmers and they have a really good breaststroker (Riggle)," Johns said. "They're a WAC opponent and it's good to see WAC competition. We've been fortunate the last couple of years to handle Colorado State but they are not swimming on Friday so they'll be ready for us. We'll really see what we're made of at Colorado State on Saturday coming back from Friday night."
The Lumberjacks defeated both schools last season at home. NAU earned a 178-119 victory over Northern Colorado and a 177-120 victory over Colorado State. The Lumberjacks are 8-0 all-time versus the Bears and have won the last two against the Rams to close their series deficit to 5-2 to Colorado State.