New Mexico prepares for emotional weekend as they welcome New Mexico State

Feb. 1, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - As the Lobos prepare to battle in state rival New Mexico State this Saturday at noon they must also ready themselves for the flurry of feelings that comes with saying goodbye to a special group of talented seniors.

This Saturday Tesse Maciejko, Nicole Peirce, Erica Stuart, Tonya Gramstad, Maria Dudley, Megan Gugerty and Ashlee Erickson will take a bow as they swim their last laps and take their final dives into the waters of Seidler Natatorium.

But before the seniors can say their final farewells, New Mexico has to take care of the Aggies and add points to the Rio Grande Rivalry Scoreboard for the Lobos. UNM is currently in the lead 10.5-7.5. A victory by Tracy Ljone and her squad would add 1.5 points to New Mexico's total.

The team hasn't had the best luck in the rivalry as of late, however, dropping the last four meets to the Aggies by final scores of: 144-98 (2011), 158-142 (2010), 178-105 (2009) and 159-140 (2008).

This year, Ljone's squad has more depth than it has in the past and will match up evenly with a State squad that comes to Albuquerque with a record of 4-5.

"State is always a tough meet to swim against," said Ljone. "But I think we will swim well against them this weekend, especially for the seniors we have on the team this year."

The seniors came to Albuquerque from different parts of the country as eight different individuals, and this year they will be leaving not only as a family but as Lobos

"I can't believe four years with this amazing bunch of seniors is already over," said Ljone. "I can't express how much I have enjoyed coaching them every single day for the past four years. I have learned so much from each of them and thank them all."

All eight seniors have made significant contributions to the program in the time they've been here and a number of them are leaving UNM with times on the All-Time Top Time board.

Maria Dudley, a native of Overland Park, Kan., specialized in distance events during her time at UNM. A history major, she has been honored as a Mountain West Conference Scholar-Athlete three times as well as making the Academic All-Conference list three times. She currently has the fourth fastest times in both the 1,000- and 1,650- meter freestyle with times of 10:20.44 and 17:05.66, respectively.

Ashlee Erickson came to Abel Sanchez from Plainwell, Mich. A talented and skilled diver who had a quiet career really came into her own as a senior. She racked up three of the first four Mountain West Diver of the Week awards this season and posted NCAA Zone qualifying marks after the first meet of the season. A business major, she was named All-MW last season on both the 1- and 3-meter springboards. She also holds the school record in the 1-meter springboard with a score of 337.20 as well as being fourth on the 3-meter list with a score of 290.30.

Tonya Gramstad, hails from Bentonville, Ark., the distance swimmer will be graduating from New Mexico with a major in Physical Therapy she is a three time Academic All-Conference selection.

Megan Gugerty, a native of Wildomar, Calif., was named Academic All-Conference last season, she is graduating with a degree in Kinesiology.

Tesse Maciejko, from Gunnison, Colo., leaves a significant mark on the Lobo program. A three time MW Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Conference Selection, you can find Maciejko's name on the All-Time Top Times board four times. As in individual, she has the third fastest time in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:05.26) and as a member of a relay team she has the second fastest times in the 200- and 800-yard free relays. She was also part of the team who set the school record in the 400-yard medley relay.

Nicole Peirce, who traveled from Toronto, Canada to be a Lobo, is leaving the program having accomplished many things as well. A three time MW Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Conference selection, Peirce has the sixth fastest time in school history in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:05.56. She was also a member of the relay team that has the second fastest time in the 200-yard Medley Relay.

Last, but certainly not least, Erica Stuart of Richardson, Tex. The three time MW Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Conference honoree will be graduating with a degree in Nutrition. Stuart also has the sixth fastest time in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:05.75.

"The ladies have all grown into mature, kind, caring, competitive, and successful young women and it has been a joy to watch," said Ljone. "I am proud to have coached them and hope to be their friend for life."

After the Lobos' last home stand the team will taper down and prepare for the 2012 Mountain West conference championships which will be held Feb. 22-25 in Oklahoma City, Okla. Check for a full recap, results and photo gallery of Senior Day.