ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Northern Arizona swimming & diving team received an exceptional performance from their divers, but ultimately was unable to notch a victory on their first road trip of the season on Saturday. The Lumberjacks won a total of five events including both diving springboards and a set of wins from junior Alina Staffeldt in a 156.5-140.5 loss to New Mexico.
NAU's divers were the lead story with senior Alexa Geiger and sophomore Christina Torrente notching victories on the 1-meter and 3-meter boards respectively. Geiger posted a winning score of 305.40 on 1-meter for her first dual meet win of the season, while Torrente recorded a career-best score of 312.00 to earn her first career dual meet victory.
Overall, NAU swept the top three spots on 1-meter and went one-two-four on 3-meter to aid the Lumberjacks' team effort on the scoreboard. Sophomore Tanya Kurach placed second behind her teammates in both events with scores of 304.28 and 309.75 respectively on 1-meter and 3-meter. Geiger placed third on 3-meter, while Torrente placed fourth on 1-meter.
The three divers along with sophomore Raquel Gonzales, who dove as an exhibition participant on Saturday, all qualified for the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships with their performances. Notably, Gonzales, like Torrente, earned a career-best 3-meter score of 301.20.
"Today was a great day; for this time of the season we were incredibly consistent," said diving coach Nikki Huffman. "Four of our five girls all qualified for NCAA Zones on 1-meter and 3-meter, and even Olivia Payne dove with solid scores on both boards after missing a few weeks with an injury. I was proud of our great team effort and if we can keep building on this, we are going to have an amazing season."
Staffeldt led the NAU swimmers with all three of the swimmers' event victories in the 100 and 200 butterfly and 100 freestyle. She notched her first win of the day in the 200 fly, posting a time of 2:04.20 before the first break. Coming out of the break, she immediately led a big Lumberjack effort in the 100 free with a time of 53.09. Staffeldt closed her day with a winning time of 56.53 in the 100 fly.
Staffeldt was one of three 'Jacks in a spectacular 100 freestyle race with junior Roni Houck finishing just behind her in second. Houck clocked a time of 53.13 and was followed by junior Claire Hammond, who finished in a virtual tie with a Lobo swimmer for third.
During the early portion of the meet, NAU countered a pair of New Mexico wins in the 200 free and 100 breast with finishes in the second, third and fourth positions. Hammond and freshmen Erin Spielman and Alice Hick wound up in the two-through-four spots in the 200 free, while senior Urte Kazakaviciute, freshman Emily Martin and junior Audrey Mann occupied the same spots in the 100 breaststroke. Junior Kimmy Richter also totaled a pair of runner-up finishes in the 1,000 and 500 freestyles.
"We were a little flat, especially in the first part of the meet," said head coach Andy Johns. "New Mexico was better than us today, and we've got a short turnaround to go against an even better team next week in Washington State and then Idaho will be waiting for us. It was a good learning experience, especially for our young team, and we are going to keep working to get better."
NAU is right back on the road to the Northwest next week for back-to-back meets against Washington State and Idaho on Thursday and Friday. Both meets will start at 5 p.m.