FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona swimming & diving team returns to the pool after a week off from competition when it makes the trip east to Albuquerque, N.M. for Saturday's dual meet versus New Mexico. The dual will start at 11 a.m. Arizona time at UNM's Seidler Natatorium.
"Looking at their only result at Wyoming, I'm expecting another close meet with them," said head coach Andy Johns. "Relays are going to be important, diving is going to be important, and it's going to be good to be on the road. I'm excited to see how our freshmen respond to their second meet – there were some nerves the first time out – and we're looking forward to a great meet with New Mexico."
The Lumberjacks will be on the road for the first time this season and are looking to avenge a narrow 154-145 loss to the Lobos at home last season. NAU have lost two consecutive dual meets to New Mexico, including a 170-130 loss in Albuquerque two years ago, and the all-time series is tied at 14-14. The 'Jacks last defeated the Lobos on the road during the 2012-13 season, when they won the final relay to pull out a 152-148 victory.
NAU is coming off its Blue vs. Gold intrasquad meet two weeks ago and its double dual against Arizona and Hawaii the week prior. The Lumberjacks dropped both decisions to the Wildcats, 222-77, and the Rainbow Wahine, 163-136, but did receive three overall event wins from senior Urte Kazakeviciute (200 breaststroke), junior Alina Staffeldt (200 butterfly) and sophomore Tanya Kurach (1-meter springboard). Junior Kimmy Richter also was impressive placing third overall in the 500 and 1,000 freestyle.
Heading into the week, Staffeldt and Richter own top times in the WAC. Richter's 500 free time of 5:02.00 and 1,000 free time of 10:16.61 are the fastest in the conference, as is Staffeldt's time of 2:01.51 in the 200 fly. A number of other Lumberjacks also rank high in the early going of the season within the conference including Kazakeviciute ranking second in both the 100 breast (1:05.30) and 200 breast (2:19.49) and junior Claire Hammond ranking second in the 200 free with a time of 1:54.09. Staffeldt also ranks second in the 100 fly at 56.32 and sophomore Andrea Schmidt is third in the 50 free at 24.11. All times are adjusted for altitude.
On the diving boards, Kurach's winning score of 281.45 is not only the best on the team on 1-meter, but has also already qualified her for the NCAA Zone Diving Championships. Sophomore Christina Torrente led NAU on the 3-meter springboard with a score of 245.10. Senior Alexa Geiger is also expected to compete on both springboards this weekend after being limited to just 1-meter three weeks ago due to her recovery from an injury.
Like NAU, New Mexico dropped its first dual meet of the season at Wyoming, 167-132, on Oct. 14. The Lobos will be making their own home debut this season coming off a seventh-place finish at the Mountain West Championships.
Both teams won eight events during last season's meeting in Flagstaff, however the Lobos won both relays and claimed the final two events – the 200m individual medley and 400m freestyle relay – to steal the meet away from the Lumberjacks. Hammond won two events – the 100m and 200m freestyles – while Staffeldt claimed victory in both butterfly events. Kazakeviciute posted a win in the 100m breast, while Geiger is the leading returner from that meet on the diving side with a pair of second-place finishes. The NAU divers dominated New Mexico by sweeping the top three spots in both the 1-meter and 3-meter competition.