Ardavanis, Morrissey Star as NAU Maintains WAC Lead

Ardavanis, Morrissey Star as NAU Maintains WAC Lead


SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Freshman Ellie Morrissey won two medals, NAU took three of the top-five spots in the 500 freestyle, and senior Kristy Ardavanis placed second on 3-meter to lead NAU on the second day of the WAC Swimming & Diving Championships.

The Lumberjacks maintained a lead atop the team standings through two of the four days of the conference championship with 295 points. San Jose State moved into second place at 289 with Denver third at 213.5.

"We had some great swims in the 500 and that was a good way to start the night off," NAU head coach Andy Johns said. "Ellie was so close to winning the 200 IM and turned around in less than 15 minutes in the 50 free and she was just really amazing tonight. We're holding on to a slim margin and we have to be ready for tomorrow."

NAU opened the night by taking three of the top five spots in the 500 free with junior Emma Lowther leading the way with a second place finish in 4 minutes, 50.09 seconds. Sophomore Caitlin Wright was just behind in fourth at 4:50.89 followed by freshman Kendall Brown who touched at 4:52.62

Morrissey made her first big splash of the night in the 200 individual medley with a program-record and NCAA 'B' time of 2:01.00. She was second overall and surpassed the previous school record in the event of 2:01.29 set by teammate Fi Connell last season. Junior Rachel Palmer finished seventh in the final in 2:03.26 while junior Jordan Burnes won the consolation final in 2:02.10 to place 9th overall and Connell was fifth in the consolation and 13th overall.

Morrissey was back at it in the very next race less than 15 minutes later, placing third in the 50 free in 23.07 seconds, the second fastest time in program history and less than half a second back of the winning time. Senior Kelsey Loy advanced to the consolation final in the event and placed sixth in 23.90 to finish 14th overall.

In the 3-meter diving competition Ardavanis topped her meet-best prelim score with a 308.40 score in the final but was topped by Idaho's Paige Hunt as she scored 319.05 to take the gold. Ardavanis was comfortably in second while junior Gwen Smithberg totaled 283.50 in the final to finish fourth overall.

After placing 10th in the prelims to narrowly miss qualifying for the final, freshman Chelsea Jackson improved her score from 233.40 to 299.30 to win the consolation final and place ninth overall. Freshman Carlye Townsend recorded her first WAC score as she finished 16th overall.

"Gwen and Kristy did a great job and Kristy dove well in the finals but didn't quite score enough to win it," NAU diving coach Nikki Huffman said. "Chelsea was great to win the consolation final as her score would have been good enough for third in the final. Overall today was really good again."

To close the third day of competition in San Antonio, The NAU 200 free relay team of Connell, Loy, sophomore Alexis Juergens, and Morrissey placed fifth overall in 1:33.39 though they were just .16 behind fourth place.

"Tomorrow is a big day for us to try to stay close before we have more of pour strengths on Saturday," Johns added.

Day three of the WAC Championships includes the 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 200 freestyle, and the 400 medley relay while diving has the day off before the platform competition on Saturday.

WAC Championship Standings – Through Day Two

1. Northern Arizona - 295  

2. San Jose State – 289

3. Denver - 213.5  

4. Idaho - 171

5. New Mexico State - 144.5  

6. Northern Colorado - 122

7. North Dakota - 111  

8. CSU Bakersfield - 91

9. Seattle - 60