PHOENIX, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona swimming team got a glance of in-state and Western Athletic Conference rival Grand Canyon Saturday morning in Phoenix in an exhibition meet that also featured New Mexico State. The three conference foes will all meet in San Antonio at the end of February for the WAC Championships and the Lumberjacks will host Grand Canyon on Feb. 8 in their final dual meet of the season. Saturday's exhibition meet was a fine opportunity for the Lumberjacks to size up themselves versus both New Mexico State and Grand Canyon with a month prior to the championships.
"We were not as sharp as I thought we might be coming off a great training week," said head coach Andy Johns. "Stirling Smith had the swim of the meet in the 200 breaststroke. This was an opportunity to see Grand Canyon first-hand for the first time and they're very good. We're going to have our hands full in two weeks."
Although all of the Lumberjack swimmers swam exhibitions on Saturday, Smith dominated the 200 breaststroke, finishing first with a season-best time of 2:19.48 which was a full four seconds faster than senior Jordan Burnes. Burnes finished second in the event with a time of 2:23.67.
Smith may have been the only Lumberjack to touch first in her respective event, but the Lumberjacks had a number of other solid performances. Sophomore Kendall Brown took second in the 400 IM with a time of 4:35.46 and sophomore Monica Pruett joined her in the top-five with a fifth-place finish.
Senior Emma Lowther garnered a runner-up finish in the 1,000 freestyle with a time of 10:22.66 and a third-place finish in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:05.82. Pruett also finished third in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:08.61 and senior Andrea Derflinger (200 butterfly) and sophomore Lindsay Clark-Warren (100 backstroke) both placed fourth respectively.
The Lumberjacks' best overall event may have been the 200 backstroke where they laid claim to four of the top-seven spots. Freshman Jori Lindquist and Sara Lenhoff, senior Ashani Gottlieb and Clark-Warren finished in successive spots with Lindquist's fourth-place time of 2:09.33 being the fastest of the bunch.
Both of NAU's relay teams placed third on Saturday, rounding out a solid day for the Lumberjacks. In the day's first event, the NAU 'A' 400 medley relay squad of Lenhoff, freshman Urte Kazakeviciute, freshman Kathryn Palomino and sophomore Eva Pold recorded a time of 3:59.20. To end the day, the Lumberjacks' 'A' team of Lowther, sophomore Trinity Frazee, Lindquist and senior Caitlin Wright finished with a time of 3:37.27 in the 400 freestyle relay.
The Lumberjack divers, who had the day off from competition on Saturday, will head to Colorado Springs, Colo. for the Air Force Diving Invitational next Friday and Saturday, Jan. 31-Feb. 1. The rest of the team will reunited the following week on Feb. 8 in the Wall Aquatic Center for the final home meet for this year's senior class against Grand Canyon.