FRANKLIN, Ind. – For the final time this season, the Franklin College swimming and diving teams took to the Franklin Middle School pool for a Friday (Jan. 25) night showdown against conference nemesis Rose-Hulman.
Before the game, the program held their senior night ceremony for the six student-athletes taking part in their final home meet. Following the recognition of Will Combs, Cameron Culp, Rob Warren, Trey Shepard, Natalie Hollensead and Mackenzie Dwyer, the Grizzlies and Engineers hit the pool for their annual dual showdown.
The Grizzly women dominated their conference rivals to the tune of 207-47, running their record in duals to 12-0 on the year. The Franklin men threw everything they had at the defending conference champions before dropping a tight 155-138 decision.
The night began with the 200 medley relay that saw both clubs pick up victories. The quartet of Brynna Sentel, Ashley Snoke, Jacqueline Richard and Courtnee Coffman snagged top billing with a mark of 1:50.08, followed in second place by teammates Jessica Halsmer, August Hartzell, Liz Colliver and Hollensead and their time of 1:53.18. The men were paced by Zach Rayce, Jack Heim, Noah Tallman and Ben Doss, who claimed first by .40 seconds in 1:38.37.
The two teams closed out the night with the 400 freestyle relay and the Grizzly women captured all 15 points from the event by taking the top two spots. Savannah Howerton, Olivia Walther, Hollensead and Coffman captured the top spot with a time of 3:49.87, followed by Colliver, Anna Perkins, Hartzell and Sentel in second place at 3:51.24. The men's top relay team of Doss, Mac Howard, Cermak and James Hone nabbed second with a 3:13.91 mark, just .24 seconds behind first place.
Franklin's women swept all of the individual races, starting with the 200 freestyle that saw Richard top Dwyer and Walther for the top spot with a time of 2:01.74. Coffman paced the field in the 100 backstroke at 1:02.24, followed by Colliver in second place at 1:06.78. Dwyer picked up first place in the 200 backstroke at 2:10.14 while Hartzell snuck out a win in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:01.07, edging out Coffman and Colliver for the top spot.
Three Grizzly women picked up a pair of event wins on the night. Snoke laid claim to first place in both the 100 breaststroke (1:08.16) and the 200 breaststroke (2:34.98). Halsmer blew past the field in both the 50 free (25.85) and the 500 free (5:18.52). Finally, Sentel held down the top spot in the 100 freestyle (54.81) and the 200 IM (2:13.98).
On the men's side, the Grizzlies had on multi-event winner in sophomore Tallman. The Bargersville, Ind.-native edged out teammates Caleb Strange and Mac Howard for first place in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:46.72, a scant .05 seconds better than second place Strange. Later in the night, Tallman raced past the field in the 100 butterfly, taking the top spot with a time of 52.68 seconds.
Hone snagged a win in the 200 backstroke, pacing the field with a time of 1:59.11. The Melbourne, Australia-native also added runner-up finishes in the 100 backstroke (54.62) and the 100 butterfly (53.39). Zach Rayce captured the Grizzlies' only other event win of the night, hanging on for a slim .02-second win in the 100 backstroke after touching in 54.60 seconds.
On the boards, Combs officially qualified for the NCAA Diving Regional with his effort in the second round of the one-meter board. The Indianapolis, Ind.-native accumulated 257.80 points to take first place in that session. Earlier in the night, Combs finished second during the first round of dives off the one-meter board with 186.75 points. Lexi Blackburn broke the school's all-time record and HCAC open record for 11 dives on the 1-meter board. Blackburn won both events, finishing with 186 points in the first session and 291.15 in the second round, giving her 477.15 points total on the night.
The Grizzlies will head out on the road for their final dual competition of the year next Friday (Feb. 1) night, heading west for a showdown against Illinois Wesleyan University. Start time is set for 6:00 p.m.