LAS VEGAS, Nev. – In the pool with some of the best competition in the country, the Northern Arizona swimmers had an outstanding first day at the UNLV Fall Invitational, totaling 52 points as a team – just three less than Pac-12 member Oregon State and ahead of Colorado State and BYU.
"The 500 (freestyle) is always good to us and that's where we scored our most points," said head coach Andy Johns. "Overall I'm pleased that we put scoring people in every event and our relays swam well tonight. It's a good meet with good competition and we look forward to tomorrow."
Senior Emma Lowther and junior Caitlin Wright improved on their preliminary times to score points for the Lumberjacks in the 500 free. Lowther improved to 11th with a season-best time of 4:54.11 after placing 13th in the preliminaries while Wright moved up three places from 15th to 12th with a finals time of 4:55.08 which was also her best time of the season.
The Lumberjacks also received scoring efforts from senior Rachel Palmer and junior Alexis Juergens on the first day of competition. Palmer advanced to the finals of the 200 IM and placed 13th with a time of 2:05.40. In the 50 free, Juergens's prelim time of 23.72, a career-best and fifth-fastest in school history, qualified her for the finals where she finished 16th.
NAU also saw strong performances from its relay teams. Its 'A' team consisting of Palmer, senior Stirling Smith, Juergens and Lowther cracked the top-10 of the 400 medley relay, finishing 10th with a time of 3:48.20. The Lumberjacks' 'A' 200 free relay team of Juergens, sophomore Trinity Frazee, freshman Jori Lindquist and Palomino touched in 1:36.86, good enough for 15th.
The day started strong for the Lumberjacks as they had seven of their swimmers qualify for the night's finals. Along with Lowther and Wright, freshman Kathryn Palomino grabbed one of the final qualifying spots in the 500 free, eventually finishing 23rd. Senior Jordan Burnes and sophomore Monica Pruett placed 22nd and 24th respectively in the 200 IM after posting qualifying times during the morning preliminaries.
Seven Lumberjacks in total posted career-best times on Thursday. In addition to Juergens' 50 free time, Pruett's time of 2:06.82 in the 200 IM and Palomino's time of 5:00.82 in the 500 free during the prelims were lifetime bests. Palmer's 500 free time of 5:02.18 was the best of her four-year career and Lindquist (2:09.36), senior Andrea Derflinger (2:12.27) and freshman Urte Kazakeviciute (2:17.89) swam their fastest times in the 200 IM.
The NAU swimmers are back in the pool on Friday morning beginning at 10 a.m. Flagstaff time. Day 2 of the UNLV Fall Invite will begin with prelims in the 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast and 100 back. The Lumberjack divers will also be in action tomorrow with the first day of the Arizona Diving Invite in Tucson, Ariz. The first of three days of competition will feature 3-meter diving starting at 12 p.m.