The Northern Arizona swimming and diving team broke free of Air Force midway through Friday’s dual meet and wound up cruising to a 171-129 victory in the first half of a back-to-back weekend slate in the Aquatic and Tennis Complex. The Lumberjacks won their second consecutive dual meet to open the season, earning 10 event victories including five 1-2 finishes.
“Today, we showed a lot of toughness,” said Lumberjacks head coach Andy Johns. “We were up against a really great opponent who also showed a lot of toughness. We showed some resiliency and came through with a hard-fought and well-deserved win.”
The Lumberjacks led by just five, 68-63, through the first seven events, but juniors Christina Torrente and Tatiana Kurach’s one-two finish on the 1-meter springboard extended NAU’s advantage to double-digits that never dropped below the 16-point margin at the time.
Torrente, the reigning WAC Diver of the Week, was one of four Lumberjacks to win multiple events in Air Force’s first visit to Flagstaff since 1988. Torrente won the 1-meter event with a score of 288.08 and then crushed the field on 3-meter with a score of 322.28. She was the lone competitor to cross 300 points on the 3-meter springboard.
Senior Alina Staffeldt won both butterflies and redshirt junior Monique King won the 200 and 500 freestyles. Freshman Niamh McDonagh also won two events for the second consecutive meet, claiming first in the 200 breaststroke and 200 individual medley.
After Air Force won the 200 medley relay to start the meet, senior Kimmy Richter posted a time of 10:36.46 to win the 1,000 free with freshman Sam Milewski picking up the runner-up points. NAU’s two distance swimmers were the only two to go sub-11 minutes in the first individual event.
King followed with her first of two wins in the 200 free with a time of 1:54.08, but the Falcons responded by earning first in the next two events – the 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke. Staffeldt (2:04.90) and Richter (2:06.58) momentarily steadied the ship with a one-two finish in the 200 fly, before Air Force won the 50 free going into the first break.
There, Torrente and Kurach started the NAU rout on 1-meter with junior Raquel Gonzales also picking up points in fourth. Senior Roni Houck continued the momentum in the 100 free, touching the wall in 52.45 to win the event by 0.02 seconds. The Lumberjacks then countered the Falcons’ win in the 200 backstroke by taking second, third and fourth.
The Lumberjacks followed with five straight event wins, with McDonagh winning both of her events in that span in the 200 breast (2:25.81) and 200 IM (2:09.27). King (5:02.77) and Milewski (5:10.53) went one-two in the 500 free and Staffeldt also won the 100 fly (57.15).
Also included in that stretch was a near sweep of the top four spots on the 3-meter springboard by NAU’s divers. Behind Torrente were Gonzales and Kurach in second and third, respectively, with junior Olivia Payne finishing just three-tenths of a point behind fourth place. NAU has now won all four of the diving events through the first two meets.
NAU is back in action Saturday morning against Idaho at 11 a.m. on Senior Day in the Aquatic and Tennis Complex. Houck, Richter and Staffeldt along with Claire Hammond, Allison Mann and Audrey Mann will be recognized during the second break.