FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Friday's Blue vs. Gold meet came down to the final relay, and with junior Alina Staffeldt out-touching junior Roni Houck at the wall; the Gold team completed a comeback to edge out a 54-50 victory in the Northern Arizona swimming & diving intrasquad dual. The Gold team won seven of the 12 events, including the final two, to rally from a 10-point deficit heading into the final two events.
Senior Urte Kazakeviciute – the Gold team captain – set the stage for the final relay by winning the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:05.91. Coupled with freshman Emily Martin's second-place finish, the Gold closed the Blue team's lead to 50-47 heading into the 200 freestyle relay. With seven points awarded to the winning team, sophomore Andrea Schmidt, sophomore Logan Neal, junior Kimmy Richter and Staffeldt bested the Blue team relay to win the meet.
The Gold team in fact swept both relays on Friday, starting out with a time of 1:48.05 in the 200 medley relay. Richter proceeded to narrowly edge out junior Claire Hammond by .08 seconds to win the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:54.13. With wins in the first two events, the Gold team led 12-4, before junior Audrey Mann (2:12.80) and freshman Kate Bier (2:15.28) went one-two in the 200 individual medley to get within one point at 13-12.
Houck pushed the Blue team in front with a winning time of 24.20 in the 50 freestyle – a lead they would hold until the 200 free relay. The advantage on the scoreboard widened with senior Alexa Geiger (284.40) and sophomore Christina Torrente (280.50) taking the top two spots on the 3-meter springboard.
Staffeldt (58.30) and Schmidt (59.47) went one-two in the 100 butterfly that cut the Gold deficit to 27-25, preceding the two teams alternating wins in the next four events. Hammond (53.59) and sophomore Monique King (5:05.98) won the 100 and 500 free respectively for the Blue team, while freshman Fernanda Montiel (59.64) and sophomore Tanya Kurach (308.55) won the 100 backstroke and 1-meter diving for the Gold team. At the end of 10 events, each team had won five events, but the Blue squad held the overall advantage at 49-39 only for the Gold team to steal it at the end.
While one team had to win, and the other had to lose, the Blue vs. Gold meet provided the Lumberjacks with a clearer look on where they stand with another opportunity to compete – albeit in a far looser environment than a typical dual meet.
"It's always great when a meet comes down to the last relay – there's some added pressure that they need to experience," said head coach Andy Johns. "The racing was awesome. Kimmy and Claire both swam faster than they did last week in the 200 free, as did Audrey in the 200 IM. That's what we're looking for, to get faster and to get better. We just need to continue paying attention to details – in and out of walls – but I'm excited."
"They did a great job and we're getting stronger each and every day," added diving coach Nikki Huffman about her divers. "There was no pressure today, and they had fun. We still have a few areas we need to clean up over the next couple of weeks, but we're headed in the right direction and we're doing good things."
NAU will now prep for its first competition outside of Flagstaff in two weeks when it hits the road for Albuquerque, N.M. The Lumberjacks will take on New Mexico on Oct. 29 at 10 a.m. in the first of three consecutive road dual meets.