Ashley Taylor set a new school record in the 800-meter dash (2:05.92) and the Northern Arizona track and field program set 27 personal bests during the opening day of the Mountain T's Invitational at the Walkup Skydome.
Taylor's mark came in as the 11th-fastest time in the country and the best time posted in the Big Sky Conference this season.
"Our staff made the decision to move her from 400 hurdles up to the 800-meter race," said Michael Smith, Lumberjacks director of track and field. "It doesn't happen all the time. You're asking someone to dive into this whole new event in her last year of college. It'd be like the equivalent of a tight end making the switch to quarterback. You have to learn this whole new thing and she just had the best attitude about it the whole time."
The number of PRs coming early in the season are nothing to brush aside.
"It's pretty amazing all the things that are happening," Smith said. "What's really fantastic is that it's happening to all these different athletes, all across the board. It's amazing that it's so well-rounded and that's really fun for fans of ours, but it's also really fun to be on this team right now. There's just such excitement. It's truly one of the most well-rounded teams in the history of the program at this point from top to bottom."
A week after posting her PR in the mile, Paige Gilchrist won the same event with a 4:47.81. With altitude conversion the time sits around 4:37, which places in the top four in the country and could be good enough to send the senior to the NCAA Indoor National Championships.
And while the secret is out that Tyler Day is redshirting the indoor season but still competing as an unattached athlete, the junior went 4:05.51 in the men's mile which converts to 3:56.59 at altitude. If he was in uniform, that time would have placed in the top three in the nation.
"This group of men that we had from that NCAA National Championship cross country team; my main job is try to hold them back," Smith said. "So Tyler is redshirting and this kid is just begging me to race. We really have a focus on the outdoor season for him."
Also picking up victories on the night were Helena McLeod (5.94m) in the women's long jump, Cameron Rayford (7.03m) in the men's long jump and Jasmine Malone (24.14) in the women's 200m dash.
The Lumberjacks will return to action on Saturday morning with the conclusion of the Mountain T's Invite. While the men's heptathlon will kick off the event at 8 a.m., no Northern Arizona athletes will be competing before 10 a.m.
"We had some really good things tonight but we also had some people leave disappointed, having some work to do" Smith concluded. "The really great thing about track and field is that you get to line up and do it again, and we're looking forward to that tomorrow."
SWIM AND DIVE
Juniors Tatiana Kurach and Christina Torrente swept the first day of NAU Quad Diving Meet, winning the 3- and 1-meter springboards respectively, highlighting an overall commanding performance by the Northern Arizona divers Friday in the Aquatic and Tennis Complex.
Kurach entered the 3-meter finals with the top preliminary score of 312.00 and wound up holding on to the first position in the finals with a score of 303.35. Torrente, who placed second to Kurach on 3-meter, improved on her 1-meter preliminary score of 261.55 by a significant margin to claim first in the finals with a score of 297.15.
"I was really pleased all the way around," said Lumberjacks diving coach Nikki Huffman. "Tatiana hasn't really been able to dive, but she was pretty stellar today. Christina was right there with her and she dove well on both boards."
Although Kurach and Torrente were the first-place finishers, they were far from the only Lumberjacks to post solid showings on the first of the two-day meet, which included competitors from Boise State, New Mexico and New Mexico State.
The Lumberjacks placed five of their six divers in the finals on 3-meter. Kurach, Torrente, junior Raquel Gonzales and freshman Jenny Cheetham occupied four of the top five spots in Friday's opening event. Behind Kurach's finals score of 303.35, Torrente placed second with a score of 299.85.
Gonzales, in her return from an injury, was fourth overall with a score of 279.00 and Cheetham placed fifth with a score of 279.00. Junior Olivia Payne finished ninth overall on 3-meter with a finals score of 249.05. Gonzales, Cheetham and Payne all improved on their prelims score.
In the afternoon session, all four of the Lumberjack divers in the event -- Gonzales and Cheetham were held out of the 1-meter competition -- placed in the top 12 of the finals. Kurach qualified first, but was scratched one round into the finals leaving the door open for Torrente to pick up first-place honors. Torrente would oblige with a career-best score to complete the NAU sweep on the springboards.
Payne scored a fifth-place, 1-meter finish with a score of 247.85 in the finals while freshman Katie Conn, who was 15th overall earlier on 3-meter, finished 11th with a score of 217.15.
"Jenny did a great job on 3-meter and we want to make sure she's good for tomorrow," Huffman said. "It was (Gonzales') first meet back and she dove pretty solid. She probably could've been a little better. Katie was a little off on 3-meter, but performed well on 1-meter. Olivia, on both boards, was very consistent and it was one of her best meets in a while."
NAU, Boise State, New Mexico and New Mexico State will all conclude the weekend with competition on platform Saturday morning. The action will start at 10:30 a.m. in the Aquatic and Tennis Complex.
The Lumberjacks fell to Brigham Young University, 6-1, in their second match of the season to follow up a season-opening win over New Mexico.
"We fought hard today, but unfortunately came up short," said Lumberjacks director of tennis Ki Kroll said.
Lumberjacks junior Ruben Montano notched the only win for the team at the No. 6 position, besting BYU's Matthew Pearce 1-6, 6-1 and 10-7.
The Lumberjacks will remain on the road to compete against the Utah Utes Saturday. The match time is set for 7 p.m.
Freshman Madi Moore picked up her first singles and doubles wins Friday against New Mexico State, contributing to the Lumberjacks' first win of the season, 5-2.
"This was a great win for the team," said Lumberjacks head coach Maciej Bogus. "They have been working hard to get where we are now."
In doubles Northern Arizona dominated the courts, besting New Mexico State 6-1, 6-4 and 6-1.
The Lumberjacks switched things up with No. 56 duo Brandy Walker and Eirene Granville at the No. 1 position and No. 53 duo Chiara Tomasetti and Hanneke Lodewijks split up with freshmen Moore and Ellie Millard.
Northern Arizona continued to dominate against the Aggies, dropping only two courts while winning three in two sets. Juniors Lodewijks and Granville, sophomore Tomasetti and Moore all recorded victories to give the Lumberjacks their first win of the 2018 season.
Northern Arizona is now 1-2 on the season and will continue their weekend in Las Cruces, New Mexico, tomorrow to take on Abilene Christian before heading to Texas to face UTEP.
"We are going to focus on recovery," Bogusz said. "We have to be ready for a good Abilene Christian team tomorrow morning."
Match time against the Abilene Christian Wildcats is set for 10 a.m. Saturday.