By: Jake Renie
TERRE HAUTE, IN – The Franklin College swimming and diving teams packed their tech suits and headed west on Thursday (Feb. 14) for day one of the 2019 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) championships.
Through one round of preliminaries and finals, both teams head into day two carrying the lead. The Franklin women dominated on the opening day, winning all six events to finish with 263 points and a 163-point lead on second place Anderson. The Franklin men carry the slimmest of leads into day two, racking up 212 points and winning four events to lead Rose-Hulman by one point heading into the second session on Friday.
The women kicked off the championships with not only a victory and school record in the 200 free relay. The squad of Courtnee Coffman, Ashley Snoke, Jacqueline Richard, and Brynna Sentel punched their ticket to the NCAA championships with a 1:35.13 time, setting new HCAC open, HCAC championship and venue records. The men took second overall in the 200 free relay with the team of Ben Doss, Zach Rayce, Jordan Cermak, and James Hone finishing with a solid swim of 1:24.58, just .15 seconds behind the top spot.
Sentel kept the fire burning with a second-straight victory, this time coming in the women's 500 free. Her time of 4:54.99 not only destroyed her own school record, but also was over five seconds under the NCAA B-standard and the third-fastest time in the nation. Caleb Strange kept the winning streak going for the men, as he also took the gold medal in the men's 500 free. He ended the race on a 4:40.21 time, bringing home the last 100 yards in a thrilling :56.09 time to set a new venue record in the event.
The women the top two places in the 200 IM. Mackenzie Dwyer dropped over a second from her best time to place second overall on a 2:11.78. Cady Mehringer claimed the number one spot in the event, taking home the gold medal on a 2:11.42 finish to set a new program record. Charlie Hall stole the show in the men's 200 IM, winning the second gold medal for the men on the night in his final time of 1:54.47.
In the final individual event of the night, Coffman and Richard teamed up to go one-two in the women's 50 free. Richard took the silver medal on a time of :24.58, and Coffman flew by her competitors for the gold medal, obtaining a B-standard as well on her :23.72 time. Doss came through with another podium finish for the men, as his :21.25 earned him a silver medal.
The divers competed on three-meter, with Lexi Blackburn earning the gold with a convincing performance. Blackburn racked up total of 435.65, which also was high enough to qualify to Regionals and set a new HCAC championship mark. Will Combs brought himself a bronze medal in the men's event, as his 411 points was 60 higher than fourth place.
The final set of relays for Thursday included two more victories, this time in the 400 medley. The crew of Jessica Halsmer, Snoke, Liz Colliver, and Mehringer smashed the program, HCAC open and HCAC championship records with a time of 3:56.66. The men ended day one with a stellar win of their own in the 400 medley with Rayce, Jack Heim, Noah Tallman, and Doss' gold medal coming in a time of 3:24.90, almost three seconds ahead of their second-place finisher.
Both teams will look to continue their impressive swims and extend their lead on Friday. Prelims get underway at 10:00 a.m. with the finals set for 6:00 p.m.