TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The Franklin swimming and diving teams began the defense of their Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) titles on Thursday (Feb. 13) with day one of the 2020 HCAC Championships getting underway at the Vigo County Aquatics Center.
Through 12 events, the Grizzlies claimed gold medals in nine events and that has both teams out in front through one day. Franklin's women amassed 265.5 points and lead second place Transylvania by 150 points. The Grizzly men rebounded from a tough start to the finals to put up 214 points, 20 more than second-place Rose-Hulman.
The final session started with a dominant showing from the women's 200 freestyle relay team of Brynna Sentel, Courtnee Coffman, Ashley Snoke and Jacqueline Richard. The junior quartet swam the event in 1:35.26, which was .13 seconds off setting new program, HCAC open and HCAC championship event records.
In the first individual race of the day, Sentel claimed gold in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:55.54, setting a new season-best time. Franklin claimed five of the six spots in the finals of the women's race with Kyra Skeens, Becky Pfeifer, Allyson Carroll and Brooke Haflich also collecting points. In the men's race, junior Noah Tallman set a new program record in the prelims with a swim of 4:38.12, earning the top seed. Tallman would settle for second in the finals with a time of 4:39.44 with Nolan Davis taking third in 4:47.10.
Caileigh McCafferty earned her first conference title in the 200 IM, taking gold with a time of 2:08.66 to finish just ahead of teammate August Hartzell. In the final of the men's 200 IM, junior Charlie Hall helped complete a Franklin sweep in the event with a winning time of 1:52.99.
In the 50 freestyle, Coffman rolled to a win with a new personal best time of 23.59, hitting an NCAA 'B' qualifying time. The Grizzlies claimed the top three spots in the women's race with Snoke and Richard also hitting the podium. In the finals of the men's race, freshman Shane O'Sullivan swam a season-best time of 21.23, earning a second-place finish.
The final race of the night ended up being another Grizzly sweep with both teams claiming first in the 400 medley relay. Sentel, Snoke, McCafferty and Coffman blasted the field in the women's final with a time of 3:53.79, winning by nearly 15 seconds. The men's race was a tightly-contested event that went to the Grizzlies' team of Zach Rayce, Jack Heim, Shane O'Sullivan and Ben Doss in 3:25.65.
The divers also got in on the action on Friday with the league title on three-meter board up for grabs. Franklin won both events with Gauge Creech taking the title for the men with a score of 490.05. Fellow rookies Collin Barton (431.30) and Cameron Gilbreth (270.35) took second and third places, respectively. On the women's side, Faith Jackson became a conference champion with her 11-dive score of 357.50.
The Grizzlies look to keep a hold on their leads on day two of the conference championships, which are set to commence on Friday (Feb. 14) with preliminaries at 10:00 a.m. and the finals at 6:00 p.m.