Local swimmers help key NAU Senior Day victory

A large group of swimmers were honored at Senior Day during the last home meet at Northern Arizona University, but it was a local athlete that brought the excitement to the event.

Claire Ferro, swimming the anchor leg of two relays, had to come from behind to win both – touching the edge of the pool less than a second ahead of the competition to win one of them.

The regular season won’t be over until the end of January, but the NAU women’s swimming & diving team has already celebrated Senior Day since its meet with New Mexico State was the final home meet.

Ferro is in the process of phasing out a successful college career that has included stops at two community colleges since graduating from Millennium High School in Goodyear.

She is one of nine seniors who returned from last year’s squad that finished in fifth place in the Western Athletic Conference.  The Lumberjacks produced nine All-WAC honors last year, the second most of the conference teams at the championship meet, and welcomed back 18 letter winners to this year’s program.

Two other local swimmers are included in the group of seniors, including Ashley Kurtz from Sandra Day O’Connor HS and Megan Collier from Sunnyslope HS.

Ferro anchored two winning relays for the Lumberjacks to help defeat New Mexico State, 170-130.  She had to come from behind to win her leg and the event, in both the 400 freestyle relay and the 200 medley relay – which she won by just two one-hundredths of a second!

The 5’9″ multi-event athlete helped her high school team win the 2005 state title in the 200 freestyle relay, but she also holds records at Millennium in the 100 backstroke, 100 freestyle, and the 50 freestyle.

Last year, she competed for the Lumberjacks after two years in the JUCO programs at Estrella Mountain CC and Glendale CC.  She swam on four relays and in three individual events at the 2010 WAC Championships and earned second-team All-WAC honors.

Collier helped the diving team in its sweep of the 3-meter event against the Aggies, finishing second in both the 3-meter and the 1-meter.  At Sunnyslope, she was an All-American her last two years and set the school’s record for the 1-meter

Lana Christensen, Meredith Egloria, Taryn Harris, Vivian Landeck, Kate Schafer, and Monica Veit round out this year’s group of seniors.

Harris placed first in both diving events in the win over the Aggies, while Landeck and junior Krista Maier swept the top two spots in the 200 freestyle, with Maier winning it.

Collier, Harris, and Christensen capped off their day of honors by qualifying for the NCAA Zone Regionals.

The Jacks will start their remaining road trips with a visit to Arizona State on Dec. 18.

(Photo: NAU Athletics)