The Northern Arizona swimming and diving team claimed two more gold medals, bringing their total to four in eight events through two days, and extended their lead to 143 points midway through the WAC Championships. With 380 points, the Lumberjacks have a sizeable advantage over Idaho's 237 and Grand Canyon's 219 following Thursday's action.
"We're swimming well and the divers did great again with three in the top eight and going one-two," said Lumberjacks head coach Andy Johns. "We thought the freestyles would be good and diving would be good, and it's been that way. Now we turn to see some strokes tomorrow with the backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. We couldn't have scripted it any better, but we still have over half the meet left."
NAU had 12 athletes in the championship finals of the four individual events and a total of 16 Lumberjacks scored points. Last year in the same events, NAU had a total of 12 athletes score with only five in the 'A' finals of the 500 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle and 3-meter diving.
Redshirt senior Monique King put on a show, rolling her way to her first career individual WAC gold medal in the 500 free. A member of NAU's 800 freestyle relay winning team on Wednesday, King separated herself from the eight-swimmer championship heat and posted an NCAA 'B' cut time of 4:47.67 to become the third different Lumberjack to win the event in the past three years.
King was one of four Lumberjacks in the top eight and was joined on the medal stand by freshman Sam Milewski, who finished in third with a season-best time of 4:52.51.
Senior Kimmy Richter, last season's 500 free champion, placed fourth with a time of 4:53.89, and senior Claire Hammond rounded out the 'A' final in eighth with a time of 5:00.23.
On the 3-meter springboard, junior Tatiana Kurach claimed her second gold in as many days -- and successfully defended her 3-meter title -- with a career-best score of 322.65. Kurach maintained her lead after the prelims in the finals, in large part by crushing a pair of dives and earning two scores of 63.00.
Kurach, freshman Jenny Cheetham and junior Christina Torrente continued their exploits from the first day as they all placed in the top four on Thursday. Cheetham, who also posted her own career-best score of 301.75, finished runner-up to Kurach and collected her second medal of her debut championships. Meanwhile, Torrente was fourth with a score of 297.15.
Preliminaries for the 400 IM, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke and 100 backstroke will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Friday. The finals for all events including the 400 medley relay will start at 5 p.m. The divers will have the day off and return for the platform competition on Saturday.