Divers Excel on First Day of Air Force Diving Invitational

Tanya Kurach
Tanya Kurach

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Northern Arizona divers endured a long day of competition, but thrived on the first day of the Air Force Diving Invitational with sophomores Tanya Kurach and Raquel Gonzales garnering top three finishes. Kurach placed second in the 1-meter finals, while Gonzales wound up in third on the platform.

"This meet was bigger than Zones with 67 women on 1-meter and 62 on platform which is unheard of," said diving coach Nikki Huffman. "This type of meet is a survival of the fittest, and for the most of it we did the best surviving overall. We had a couple of divers in the top eight and then others who still do great things. We're exhausted, but we're going to give it our all tomorrow."

The marathon day started with the 1-meter competition in the morning where Kurach and senior Alexa Geiger advanced to the eight-diver final following the preliminary round. Kurach stood in second after the first round with a score of 294.00 and Geiger was a spot behind her with a score of 287.95. Kurach would go on to retain her runner-up standing in the finals posting a score of 288.10, while Geiger finished in sixth. Sophomore Christina Torrente also showed well on 1-meter, narrowly missing the finals by less than three points and finishing up 10th overall.

Friday carried into the evening where Gonzales paced the Lumberjacks with a score of 218.65 on the tower. Despite missing on a dive, the platform specialist's talents were enough to carry her to a top three finish where she missed out on second by just two points. Kurach garnered another top eight placing in sixth on platform with a season-best score of 207.30. Also notable was sophomore Olivia Payne, who recorded a season-best score herself of 171.85.

While the divers were excelling at the Air Force Academy, the NAU swimmers started their two-day weekend in Boise, Idaho with a non-traditional exhibition meet versus Boise State. The meet was not scored and featured five events (50 butterfly, 50 backstroke, 50 breaststroke, 100 individual medley and 500 freestyle relay).

Seniors Sara Lenhoff and Urte Kazakeviciute posted the top overall finishes amongst the Lumberjacks with third place performances in the backstroke and breaststroke respectively. Lenhoff posted a backstroke time of 27.23, while Kazakeviciute clocked a time of 29.48 in the breaststroke.

Freshman Fernanda Montiel joined Lenhoff in the top five of the 50 back with a fourth-place time of 27.69. Junior Kimmy Richter (25.77), freshman Emily Martin (30.42) and sophomore Sarah Takach (1:00.94) all placed fifth in the butterfly, breaststroke and IM respectively. NAU's top relay team turned in a time of 4:07.94 to close the meet in third.

The divers will close the weekend on Saturday with the 3-meter prelims starting at 11 a.m. at the Air Force Academy. The finals will begin at approximately 2:15 p.m. Meanwhile, the swimmers will go toe-to-toe with Boise State and Nevada at 11 a.m. in their final dual meet of the season.