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The Northern Arizona swimming and diving team returned to the pool on Friday and received a number of strong performances in a 154.5-137.5 loss to No. 17 Arizona on Friday.

The defeat was only the Lumberjacks' second dual meet loss this season, while they also fared well against both Rice and New Mexico State, both of which were also among the teams competing at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.

"I liked the way our medley relay opened up the meet," said Lumberjacks head coach Andy Johns. "Monique (King) and Alina (Staffeldt) were solid in their events, and Sarah O'Connor swam pretty well, too. It was a little rough here and there, but today really helps us get focused for the finish. It'll help to get back to a normal routine before we head to Colorado, and we're in a good place as a team."

Staffeldt tied for first overall in the 200 fly (2:01.99) and placed fifth in the 100 fly (57.73). King's best finish was in the 500 freestyle, in which she posted a time of 4:58.78 to place second while she was also third in the 1,000 free with a time of 10:14.90. O'Connor also scored a pair of top-four finishes in the backstrokes, placing third in the 100 (57.09) and fourth in the 200 (2:06.94).

The divers were also exceptional following the lengthy break and limited training time leading up to Friday's meet, with junior Tatiana Kurach and freshman Jenny Cheetham leading the way. Kurach claimed first overall on the 1-meter board with a score of 303.50 in addition to placing fourth overall on 3-meter. Meanwhile, Cheetham was second overall -- but first when looking at head-to-head results with Arizona -- on 3-meter, recording a season-high score of 280.05. Cheetham also placed fourth on 1-meter.

Juniors Raquel Gonzales and Christina Torrente also registered impressive finishes, with Gonzales recording a fifth-place finish on the 3-meter and Torrente placing third on the 1-meter. For the 3-meter, NAU had four of the top six divers, while the Lumberjacks placed three of the top four overall on 1-meter.

"We only had five practices and that's not enough to get ready for a meet like this, but with what we were able to do they did an exceptional job," said Lumberjacks diving coach Nikki Huffman. "The fact that Tatiana was able to put together a meet like she did on 1-meter while being sick was fabulous. Jenny used two new dives and she was the winner against Arizona, which was impressive. Overall, we could've been better but they all did a great job."

The Lumberjacks opened the meet by placing fourth in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:45.99. Their 400 freestyle relay squad also placed fourth in the day's final event with a time of 3:34.25. Both of NAU's 'A' relays placed ahead of New Mexico's 'A' relays after finishing behind them in November during the teams' official dual meet.

Other results included freshman Hope Williams finishing sixth overall in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.47). Freshman Niamh McDonagh and junior Andrea Schmidt tied for fifth overall in the 200 fly with identical times of 2:07.11.

Staffeldt, McDonagh and Schmidt all finished ahead of Rice's best finisher in the 200 fly, as it was one of three events in which the Lumberjacks touched the wall before the Owls. King accounted for the other two in the two distance freestyle events.

NAU also finished ahead of New Mexico State in 12 of 16 events.

The team will split next weekend with the swimmers competing in dual meets at Colorado State and Northern Colorado on Jan. 12 and 13 respectively. While the swimmers are in Colorado, the divers will travel to Los Angeles for the three-day UCLA Bruin Diving Invitational from Jan. 12 to 14.


CHEER AND DANCE

Lumberjack fans are invited to the Walkup Skydome Tuesday to support the cheer and dance squads during their send-off performance to the UCA and UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship. The Skydome doors will open at 5 p.m., with the event starting at 5:30 p.m.

Both the cheer and dance teams will perform their nationals routines on Tuesday before taking off for Orlando for the National Championship. The performances will feature group stunting, hip hop and jazz. All fans will be entered into a raffle upon arrival for prizes.

The UCA and UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship is the most prestigious college cheerleading and dance team championship in the country, and will take place in Orlando from Jan. 12 to 14.

The Lumberjack dance team will be defending their UDA Division I national title that they claimed last year in the Hip Hop category. NAU bested Delaware for its first-ever UDA National Championship in addition to placing third in the D-I Jazz competition. The Lumberjacks were the only team to place in the top three in both categories.

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