FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona swimming & diving team will compete in one final dual meet before the calendar turns to 2014, this Saturday in Las Cruces, N.M. where they will see a familiar foe in New Mexico State. The meet will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the NM State Natatorium.
"We look forward to competing against New Mexico State and they are a quality WAC opponent," said head coach Andy Johns. "We've had a nice back and forth, wins and losses, with them the last couple of years. We just need to race and get some more experience."
The Lumberjacks will return to the pool for the first time after a quality showing at the UNLV Fall Invitational and Wildcat Diving Invitational two weeks ago. The swimmers competed in Las Vegas for the three-day UNLV Invite that included the toughest competition they will face all year including top-ranked California. NAU posted five top-eight scoring finishes during the meet led by fourth-place finishes from senior Stirling Smith in the 100 breaststroke and junior Caitlin Wright in the 1,650 freestyle. Sophomore Kendall Brown earned a seventh-place finish in the 400 IM and senior Jordan Burnes (200 breast) and junior Alexis Juergens (100 fly) each recorded eighth-place finishes. A host of numerous other Lumberjacks also earned top-20 finishes in an overall extremely strong performance by the team.
The divers meanwhile competed in Tucson at the UA-hosted invitational and endured rough weather conditions. Led by three top-10 finishes by sophomore Chelsea Jackson, including a seventh-place finish on 3-meter, NAU's five divers held their own against some of the best divers in the West. Senior Gwen Smithberg also garnered a fourth-place finish on platform, the highest finish by any of the Lumberjack divers at the meet, in the team's first competition on the tower this season.
"Hopefully that gives the team a lot of confidence and allows them to trust that what we're doing is working," Johns said. "The experience was great. For the swimmers, it was great for them to know what it's going to be like with a crowded pool with men and women as we get ready for the conference meet."
NAU will look to win its fourth dual meet out of five this weekend versus New Mexico State, a team it has seen frequently not only at the WAC Championships, but over the last decade. The two teams have squared off in dual meets 10 out of the last 11 years and while the Lumberjacks own a dominating 23-4 all-time edge, they have split the last four meetings. Each team has alternated wins the last four years with each team winning twice in their home pool.
The Aggies are 1-1 in dual meets this season with their victory coming against Northern Colorado, another WAC opponent NAU defeated last month as well. New Mexico State has also had the last week off after a fourth-place finish at the Houston Invitational. Junior Jessica Legge picked up an individual title for the Aggies, winning the 200 breaststroke, and senior Terrin Seaver was the runner-up in the 200 backstroke.
The Lumberjacks defeated the Aggies last year at the Wall Aquatic Center, 176-116.