NAU Lumberjacks Swimming Moving to New Home

The Wall Aquatic Center has been the home of Northern Arizona swimming & diving since the program’s inaugural season in 1983. In 2016 though, the Lumberjacks will have a new home in the North Campus Athletic and Recreation Complex and the 2015-16 schedule, as announced by head coach Andy Johns on Thursday, will see the back-to-back Western Athletic Conference champions make the transition in facilities during an exciting season slate.

The new pool as part of the new athletic complex will be the home of three dual meets in the first two months of 2016 as well as the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships in March. The team’s first scheduled dual meet in their new home facility is slated for Jan. 16 versus Colorado State.

“The new pool is definitely exciting and that’s part of the reason we have three home meets in the spring semester because people want to be here for,” Johns said. “The Zone Diving meet is probably a year before we’d like to be hosting but because of facility issues at Air Force, we were selected. That is a great opportunity to showcase the new facility because some of the best divers in the country will be coming here looking to qualify for NCAAs.”

Before the Lumberjacks leave the Wall Aquatic Center, NAU will play host to two high-quality opponents in LSU and Wyoming in the Aquatic Center’s two-day sendoff. LSU finished fifth in the SEC last season while Wyoming finished fourth in the Mountain West.

In addition to the three women’s teams, LSU and Wyoming’s men’s teams will hold their own dual meet. The two-day farewell to the Wall Aquatic Center will see all five squads compete on both days, giving local fans of the sport not only a chance to see the Lumberjacks one final time in the Wall but an opportunity to see two Division I men’s teams in action before the pool closes.

“The opportunity to have LSU here is very big for us because they’re a really good team from the SEC,” Johns said. “They had multiple NCAA qualifiers last year so to be able to bring a quality opponent like them plus Wyoming, who we haven’t swam against at home in a while, in what will be the last dual meet in the old pool is exciting. In addition to the women’s double dual, the men’s dual meet is great for the swimming community in Flagstaff to see a Division I men’s meet. It’s going to be a great weekend of swimming.”

The 2015-16 season will begin with the team’s two traditional intrasquad meets – the Pentathlon on Sept. 25 and the Blue vs. Gold meet on either Oct. 9 or Oct. 16 – leading up to the LSU and Wyoming weekend at the end of October.

NAU will then see Wyoming again in a rare home-and-home on Nov. 13 in Laramie, Wyo. in another scheduled double-dual with Air Force. The ‘Jacks wrap up their first road trip of the season the following day, Nov. 14, at WAC foe Northern Colorado.

The divers will compete at the Wildcat Diving Invitational in Tucson from Nov. 19-21 while the swimmers will not see action until the team rejoins for a dual meet at New Mexico State on Dec. 5. The Lumberjacks conclude the 2015 calendar year at Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, Fla. on Dec. 19.

The team’s annual Pac-12 double-dual versus Arizona and Oregon State in Tucson will be held on Jan. 8 directly before NAU’s projected grand opening of the new pool with Colorado State on Jan. 16. The following week, NAU will host New Mexico on Jan. 23 followed by the diver’s annual trip to the Air Force Diving Invitational from Jan. 28-30.

Senior Day will be Feb. 6 at home versus conference rival Idaho in the team’s final competition before they head to Houston, Texas in the team’s quest for a WAC three-peat. The WAC Championships will be held in Houston for the first time from Feb. 24-27.

Following the conference meet, Northern Arizona University and the city of Flagstaff will be the host of the 2016 NCAA Zone E Diving Championships for the first time ever. The new pool, complete with springboards and a diving tower, will house the region’s top divers all eyeing a qualifying spot at the NCAA Championships from March 7-9 which will be a sight for all fans to see.

“It’s really exciting and a little nervous as well because we want to run a really good meet in our new facility,” said diving coach Nikki Huffman. “I have a lot of great support though. We won’t have to travel and our athletes will be on their own boards. I love having people come to see what NAU and Flagstaff is all about.”

NAU returns 23 athletes from its second WAC Championship team this past season including conference gold medalists senior Chelsea Jackson (3-meter diving) and sophomore Alina Staffeldt (100 butterfly). The team will have nine seniors leading a veteran heavy squad to tackle yet another grueling schedule to prepare for a WAC title defense.

 “We have quality opponents on the schedule and I like the way it works out,” Johns said. “We’ll get good competition leading up to the conference meet in January and February and we’re looking forward to finishing strong in the old pool and starting out strong in the new pool next year.”

The above article is a press release submitted to Swimming World. To reach our audience, contact us at newsmaster@swimmingworld.com.