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NAU Swimmers Excel on Final Day of Kansas Classic

Urte Kazakeviciute
Urte Kazakeviciute

TOPEKA, Kan. – Junior Alina Staffeldt and senior Urte Kazakeviciute each placed second in their respective individual events on the final day of the Kansas Classic, capping a success-filled weekend in Topeka, Kan. by the Northern Arizona swimmers. The Lumberjacks finished fifth in the six-team meet with 353 points and garnered 13 second-session swims on Sunday before heading back to Flagstaff.

"It was a great last day and our 200s were awesome," said head coach Andy Johns. "It was a good all-around effort and it was important for us to get this experience, especially for young swimmers, in an environment like this weekend where there teams that were better than us. They had to step up and I'm excited and proud of their efforts this weekend."

Staffeldt and junior Kimmy Richter were named Kansas Classic All-Stars as the Lumberjacks' top scorers during the three-day meet including Kansas, Iowa State, Nebraska, Northern Iowa and Arkansas-Little Rock.

After placing third in the 100 butterfly on Saturday, Staffeldt was a narrow runner-up in the 200 fly with a time of 2:00.18. She dropped her prelims time by almost two seconds to move up a spot from the morning session in the finals and her finals time would have been a pool record if she had not been beat by Nebraska's Dana Posthuma. Kazakeviciute was spectacular in her final swim of the meet as well, placing second in the 200 breaststroke. Entering with a time of 2:19.49, she swam 2:16.98 in the prelims and ended up clocking a time of 2:14.34 in her runner-up swim in the finals in a five-second drop from her entry time.

Richter led three Lumberjacks in the mile freestyle in the morning's lone finals, finishing with a time of 17:01.32 and a third-place finish. Freshmen Erin Spielman and Alice Hick were 15th and 19th respectively in the distance event.

The 'Jacks enjoyed an all-around exceptional showing in the 200 fly. Aside from Staffeldt, sophomore Andrea Schmidt and freshman Kate Bier placed fifth and sixth respectively as NAU occupied three of the top eight spots in the fastest finals heat. Schmidt recorded a season-best time of 2:03.25 and was just ahead of Bier's time of 2:03.97. Also of note was freshman Allison Baldwin, who won her finals heat and placed 17th with a time of 2:04.76. The time would have placed her in the 'A' final as well had it occurred in the morning and it was a full eight seconds faster than her prelim time.

Junior Audrey Mann, sophomore Sarah Takach and freshman Emily Martin were 19th, 20th and 21st in succession in the 200 breast finals. All lowered their prelim times significantly with Mann going 2:23.38, Takach at 2:23.78 and Martin at 2:25.42. In the 200 backstroke, freshman Fernanda Montiel was NAU's top finisher in 18th with a time of 2:03.66, which was almost three seconds faster than her entry time. Senior Sara Lenhoff placed 21st.

The Lumberjacks placed three swimmers in the final heats of the 100 freestyle led by junior Roni Houck. Houck placed 11th and notched a season-best time of 51.96 in the preliminaries. Junior Claire Hammond wound up in 22nd and Spielman placed 30th. Both swimmers also recorded their best times of the season.

Staffeldt, Hammond, Richter and Houck closed the meet with a time of 3:32.33 in the 400 freestyle relay.

After taking the Thanksgiving weekend off from competition, the Lumberjacks will host New Mexico State on Dec. 3 in the Aquatic and Tennis Complex. The meet will be NAU's second home dual of the season and will start at 11 a.m.