Talent pool runs deep at Northern Arizona
By Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer
The Northern Arizona University women's swimming team is hoping for a breakthrough this week at the Western Athletic Conference Championships, starting tomorrow in San Antonio.
NAU has finished second the past two seasons and a strong showing this week, according to Lumberjacks' head coach Andy Johns, could lead to the school's first WAC crown.
"We have our sights set on winning a championship for sure," said Johns, who is in his 14th season. "But, there are so many things that have to go right for that to happen. We have to just focus on ourselves and do our best. We have a very balanced team and all of our parts will have to come together for us to win. Swimming is an individual sport, but it is definitely a team effort."
A big part of the Lumberjacks' success this weekend will hinge upon two local swimmers. Junior Meredith Egloria, a 2006 Kapolei graduate, and sophomore Krista Maier, a 2008 Kealakehe graduate, are the latest in a line of Hawai'i athletes to swim for Johns.
"We've had a good string," Johns said. "We had a connection that started with Cassie Lyons (Waiākea '03) about six years ago and it's continued since then."
Former Big Island standouts Tamarah Binek (Waiākea '05) and Kim Kopra (Hawai'i Prep '06) both swam for NAU.
"It was nice to know that there were people from Hawai'i there," said Maier, who will compete in the 200-, 500- and 1,650-yard freestyle races this week. "You kind of have an automatic common interest."
Egloria, who will swim in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke events this week, knew of the other local swimmers, but had not yet met them until visiting the Flagstaff, Ariz., campus.
"The girls from the Big Island, we were on the same swim team (in Hawai'i), but I never swam with them before," Egloria said. "There's also a lot of students from Hawai'i at our school, too."
Maier and Egloria have dealt with numerous injuries during their collegiate careers.
Maier underwent shoulder surgery a year ago, which kept her out of action for several months.
"It was frustrating just not being able to get in the pool for a long time, but we have a lot of good trainers and teaching staff, who really helped me get back into shape," she said.
Maier has reason to be optimistic after a good showing in a dual meet against San Diego two weeks ago. She posted a time of 1:54.86 in the 200 free and 5:03.80 in the 500 free.
"Those were pretty close to my (personal) best times," Maier said. "That was a good indicator of where I'm at and I'm hoping to see some of my best times this weekend."
Egloria redshirted as a true freshman after undergoing shoulder surgery. She had her best season in 2008 before shoulder pains became a recurring problem last season.
"I have to do a lot of different things than the rest of my teammates," Egloria said. "It's been frustrating. I've had good and bad days, but my coaches have found different things that are good for me to do."
Egloria said the Lumberjacks are ready to bring the WAC title to Northern Arizona.
"This year, I feel like our team has been really close and we have a good team dynamic. We've been really close the last two years, so we're all hoping for this win," Egloria said. "I think that we've put all the work in and now we just need to go and race."
• Fairfield (Conn.) sophomore Michelle Yoshida (Punahou '08 of Kāne'ohe) successfully defended her three individual titles at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships last weekend in Baltimore. Yoshida won the 50-yard freestyle in 23.66 seconds, the 100 in 51.23 seconds and the 200 in 1:51.99.
• Stanford sophomore outside hitter Brad Lawson ('Iolani '08 of Honolulu) put down a match-high 29 kills and hit .543 with 10 digs in a four-set win over USC Saturday. Junior outside hitter Spencer McLachlin (Punahou '07 of Honolulu) had 14 kills with six block assists, five digs and an ace, senior setter Kawika Shoji ('Iolani '06 of Honolulu) had 64 assists with 16 digs and sophomore libero Erik Shoji (Punahou '08 of Honolulu) recorded a team-high 18 digs. USC junior setter Riley McKibbin (Punahou '07 of Honolulu) had 60 assists with nine digs and junior outside hitter Tri Bourne (Academy of the Pacific '07 of Honolulu) added 10 kills and five digs for the Trojans.
• New Jersey Institute of Technology freshman setter Matthew Lui (Hawai'i Baptist '09 of 'Aiea) had 48 assists and freshman libero Brady Smith (Waiākea '09 of Kurtistown) had a match-high 12 digs in a four-set win over NYU last Tuesday. In Friday's five-set loss to Sacred Heart, Lui recorded 69 assists with 10 digs, Smith had 14 digs and senior outside hitter Charles Bell (Kahuku '06 of Halē'iwa) put away 11 kills.
• Linfield (Ore.) senior guard Cody Tesoro (Baldwin '05 of Kahului) shot 9-of-14 from the field to finish with a game-high 30 points in a 74-70 win over Whitman (Wash.) Friday. He was 6-of-7 on 3-pointers and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line.
• San Diego freshman outfielder Kalei Hanawahine (Kamehameha '09 of Honolulu) batted 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs in a 9-2 win over Indiana Saturday. Hanawahine started the series finale Sunday and went 2 for 3 with an RBI and stolen base, but the Torreros lost, 7-5.
• East Carolina senior second baseman Charina Sumner (Kamehameha '06 of Kailua) hit a two-run double in a 7-2 win over Campbell Friday. Senior third baseman Cristen Aona (Punahou '06 of Kapolei) had a sacrifice fly and senior left fielder Marina Gusman-Brown (Pearl City '06 of 'Ewa Beach) and freshman catcher Kai Clark (Kapolei '09) each batted 1 for 2 with a run scored.
• Whitter (Calif.) junior left fielder Kellie Canida (Kamehameha '07 of 'Aiea) batted 2 for 3 and hit a grand slam in the third inning of a 13-4 win over Occidental (Calif.) Saturday. She went 2 for 3 with a triple and run scored in a 10-0 win over La Sierra (Calif.) Sunday.
INDOOR TRACK & FIELD
• Dartmouth freshman Joy Piotrowski (Punahou '09 of 'Aiea) placed seventh in the triple jump with a distance of 36 feet, 5 inches at the USA Track & Field New England Indoor Championships Sunday in Cambridge, Mass. She finished 12th in the long jump with a mark of 16 feet, 2 1/4; inches.
• Cornell freshman Kristin Lim (Punahou '09 of Honolulu) won her No. 2 singles match, 6-4, 6-3, against Rutgers Sunday. Lim also helped the Big Red win, 8-6, in the No. 3 doubles match.
• Pacific (Ore.) junior Max Bonk (Hawai'i Prep '07 of Kamuela) shot a 3-under 69 to help the Boxers beat Willamette (Ore.) Saturday in Banks, Ore. Pacific won, 302 to 335.
• Dana (Neb.) senior Ryan "Bulla" Tuzon (Baldwin '06 of Wailuku) won the 165-pound division at the North Regional Qualifier in Sioux Falls, Iowa Saturday. Tuzon, who was the top seed in the weight class, pinned his quarterfinal opponent before advancing to the final with a 7-5 decision in the semifinal round. He defeated Joe Sievert of Morningside, 5-3, in the championship match.