DECORAH, Iowa - On the first night of the 2018 Liberal Arts Championships, the Franklin College swimming and diving teams got off to a blazing start by winning all three events on Wednesday (Feb. 14) night.
Both teams sit in first place after one day of competition, as the men picked up 77 points over two events while the women earned 40 points for one.
The night kicked off with the women's 800 freestyle relay and the heavily-favored Grizzlies did not disappoint. Franklin blew past the field, winning with a time of 7:45.37, more than 20 seconds ahead of the second place team from Illinois Tech. All four members of the relay team; Jessica Halsmer, Jacqueline Richard, Amy McCormick and Brynna Sentel, broke the two-minute mark, a feat accomplished but just four of the other 48 swimmers in the event.
The time set a new Franklin College program record and a new pool record at host Luther College in the 800 freestyle relay.
Next up, it was the men's turn to take to the pool in the same event. Just like their female counterparts, the Grizzly quartet of Noah Tallman, Jordan Cermak, Rob Warren and James Hone claimed victory over an 11-team field with a time of 6:57.48. It marks the fifth straight year a Franklin team has claimed gold in the 800 freestyle relay.
The decisive point in the race came during the exchange from Tallman to Cermak, with Cermak laying down a split of 1:43.30 to put the Grizzlies in front for good and set a new personal best for the Greenfield, Ind.-native. Warren and Hone took care of business the rest of the way, leading to a four-second win over Illinois Tech.
With the only swimming events of the night taken care of, the attention shifted to the diving board and the finals of the men's 1-meter diving competition. Sophomore Jacob Keener and junior Will Combs swept the gold and silver medals in the event in convincing fashion. Keener captured the win with 471.55 points while Combs took runner-up with 427.25 points, nearly 100 points more than the next closest diver.
The event rolls on with six events set to take place on Friday. Preliminary qualifying events are set to begin at 11:00 a.m. with the finals taking place starting at 7:00 p.m.