FRANKLIN, Ind. – On the eve of the start of their 10th season as a program, the Franklin College men's swimming and diving team welcomes back a veteran-heavy squad that looks to continue the program's recent run of success in 2018-19.
The Grizzlies went 6-3 in dual competition last year and ended the season on a high note by capturing their fifth straight Liberal Arts Championship. It continued a string of success that has seen the Grizzlies go 46-9-1 in dual competition over the last five seasons with each year ending in a big team event championship. With a slew of upper-classmen back in the fold in 2018-19, the Grizzlies look to continue that trend starting this weekend with their opening meet.
"Our men's team has always peaked when it matters the most," 10th-year head coach Andy Hendricks said. "When it's time to put together their best times, we've always been able to shed seconds and put points on the board. We have a wealth of talent on our men's team and there are a lot of experienced competitors we can count on to score for us."
Lining up for the Grizzlies this year is a trio of seniors with plenty of experience under their belts as contributors to the program. Rob Warren is back to head up the Grizzly distance swimmers and is joined by fellow seniors Cam Culp and Trey Shepard, who both fill critical positions at breaststroke and individual medley.
Junior James Hone is coming off a win in the 200 backstroke at the Liberal Arts Championship, as well as a pair of relay championships with Warren, Noah Tallman, Jordan Cermak and Ben Doss, all of whom are back for another year. Jack Heim joins Mac Howard, Hone and Cermak to give the Grizzlies a formidable quartet at the top of the sprints lineup.
Jacob Weir will compete in several events up and down the lineup, as will Zach Rayce and Charlie Hall, both of whom are coming off injury and are looking to make significant contributions to the Grizzlies this season. Sophomores Kevin Gast, Dylan Harker and Alex Bowers are also expected to move around the lineup and will be pushed by freshmen Caleb Strange and Nolan Davis.
On the boards, the Grizzlies welcome back Will Combs for his senior season. The Indianapolis-native was one of three Grizzlies to qualify for the NCAA Diving Regional last year, the second time in his career that Combs represented the Grizzlies against the region's best. He'll be flanked by freshman Cameron Poe and junior Dakota Busch, giving the Grizzlies a trio of divers that can rack up critical points for the team.
The Grizzlies' begin the regular season on Saturday (Oct. 20) afternoon, taking part in the Indiana DIII State Championships in Crawfordsville, Ind. on the campus of Wabash College. Start time is set for 10:00 a.m.