The Northern Arizona swimming and diving team finished the first day of the CSCAA National Invitational Championship in 33rd place with 12 points Thursday. The Lumberjacks' first day of competition consisted of eight events, with six of them being individual and two being relays.
“We weren’t at our best today, and there were a lot of factors causing that such as sickness,” Lumberjacks head coach Andy Johns said.
Of the six individual prelim events that started off the invite in Cleveland, only two Lumberjacks moved to the finals. Hope Williams advanced in the 50 breaststroke and NAU teammate Monique King move into the finals of the 500 freestyle.
In the finals, King finished in 18th place with a time of 4:53.51. Williams finished 20th in her finals with a time of 29.74.
Northern Arizona also raced in the 200 freestyle relay and the 400 medley relay. In the 200 freestyle relay, the Jacks finished in 24th place with a time of 1:35.66. The relay team was made up of Miranda Nichols, Katy Smith, Fernanda Montiel, and King.
In the 400 medley relay, the Lumberjacks squad made up of Montiel, Williams, Kate Bier, and Nichols finished in 17th place with a time of 3:46.62.
“I think the last relay swam well,” Johns said. “We showed a lot of life and promise that we will have better swims moving forward.”
Northern Arizona will be back in action Friday at the event.
The Lumberjacks conclude their longest stretch away from home with a pair of matches at Fresno State at 5 p.m. Friday and Sacramento State at 11 a.m. Monday.
Northern Arizona will play eight of its final 10 matches of the season in Flagstaff.
The Lumberjacks are 4-6 overall after two straight losses, including a narrow 4-3 loss to New Mexico last Friday. The Lumberjacks and Lobos split the six singles matches, but New Mexico's doubles point was the difference.
The doubles point has been critical to Northern Arizona's overall success this season with the Lumberjacks holding a 3-1 record when going into singles with the 1-0 advantage. On the other hand, Northern Arizona is 1-5 when dropping the doubles point.
Junior Chiara Tomasetti and freshman Adrianna Sosnowska have a team-best 7-3 record in doubles, playing all 10 matches at No. 1. Tomasetti and Sosnowska's six-match winning streak was halted by New Mexico last week. Still, the pair remain in a three-way tie for most No. 1 doubles wins in the league.
Tomasetti leads all conference players with No. 1 singles victories with an undefeated record of 9-0. She posted her eighth consecutive straight-set victory last week at New Mexico, remaining the only nationally ranked player in the Big Sky at No. 108.
Fresno State has played a challenging schedule thus far this spring, including four nationally ranked squads, but has managed a 6-7 dual record. The Bulldogs have been stout on their home courts, winning five of seven matches, with their only home losses coming to No. 44 Utah and No. 36 Washington State both by 4-1 scores earlier this week.
At the top of the Bulldogs' lineup is Jennifer Timotin, who is Fresno State's primary No. 1 singles player. Timotin came up huge in Fresno State's most recent win against BYU on March 4. Her three-set win at No. 1 completed a Bulldog comeback from 3-1 down to defeat the Cougars, 4-3.
The Lumberjacks have faced the Bulldogs just once before in 2003 with Fresno State claiming a 5-2 victory.
Meanwhile, the Sacramento State Hornets, who will host Weber State on Saturday prior to facing NAU, are 0-7 overall and 0-1 in conference.
Jayden Nielsen is the team leader in singles wins with a 3-3 mark at No. 3. Jenna Dorian (No. 4) and Sofi Wicker (No. 5) also have two wins apiece. Where Sacramento State has really struggled this spring is in doubles with just a 2-13 record as a team.
Although Sacramento State holds a 24-9 all-time advantage, the Jacks have had recent success against the Hornets, winning the last three meetings including a 6-1 home victory last season.
TRACK AND FIELD
The Big Sky Conference has released its 2019 Outdoor Track and Field Preseason Coaches' Poll and the Northern Arizona men and women's teams both been picked to finish first this season. The women tied with Sacramento State with an equal number of points received.
Northern Arizona has won the conference title 22 times on the men's side and 11 on the women's.
Last season the Lumberjack men won the title with 131 points while the women took home the championships with 128 points. The women's squad has won the last four straight conference titles and the men are the defending champions on their side.
The men's team was selected as the unanimous No. 1 with 11 first-place votes and a max of 121 points. The Lumberjack women took the top spot with six first-place votes and 113 points overall.
The women's side has Sacramento State and Montana both receiving some first-place votes, with the Hornets being chosen at the top spot four times and the Grizzlies having only one vote. The Hornets also finished with 113 points.
On the men's side freshman sprinter Christopher Grant has made a big splash during his first collegiate season, having won the 60m and 200m dash indoor conference titles. For the distance team Blaise Ferro was selected as the 2019 Big Sky Indoor Men's Most Valuable Athlete. The New Jersey native won the men's 3000m race at indoor conference championships. Geordie Beasmish is fresh off of an indoor national title in the men's mile. In the throws NAU made a statement at indoor conference championships with Kevin Cooney taking home the gold in the men's weight throw competition. The jumps squad saw Cameron Rayford place third in the triple jump at conference championships in Bozeman.
The Jacks will also be returning a plethora of talented student-athletes. Sprinter Jada Jackson earned the silver medal in the 60m dash at indoor conference championships. She will also be joined by teammate Jasmine Malone. Last season Malone took first-place in two events at outdoor conference in the 200m and 400m dashes and was a member of two first-place relay teams. The Lumberjack distance crew saw Hannah Behunin win the women's mile run event at indoor conference championships this season. Maggie Carruth added another gold medal to her impressive collection after winning the women's 800m run event at 2019 indoors. Both Behunin and Carruth were members of the first-place DMR team as well this past indoor season. The throws team will see Alexa Dragone and Matilde Roe continue to improve and grow in their events. The women's jump squad will see the return of Kaitlyn Wayne and Jenna Figueroa, who were both able to score at indoor championships this year.