TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The inaugural Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) Swimming & Diving Championship came to a close on Sunday afternoon, and the Franklin women's squad will forever be etched in the league record books as the first ever conference champions.
The Franklin women finished the three-day event at the Vigo Aquatics Center with 625 points, winning the conference championship by 44 points over second place Rose-Hulman. The FC men closed out their weekend with 459.5. points, earning a runner-up finish.
"The people at the Vigo County Aquatics complex put on a wonderful meet for the inaugural HCAC Championships," Head coach Andrew Hendricks said. "From the beginning of this season, I knew we had something special and our teams have continued to build and blossom while representing Franklin College at the highest level. While this inaugural HCAC championship is fantastic for our women, we are very excited of what is in store for this team at the Liberal Arts Championships and beyond."
The FC women added five more event championships on Saturday, giving them a total of 15 over the course of three days. The first came in the finals of the 1650 freestyle, where senior Amy McCormick blitzed the field with a time of 17:20.34. That time was enough to set new FC, HCAC and Liberal Arts records in the event, and ranks her 15th in the nation this year in the event.
Jessica Halsmer added a victory in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2:03.88, winning the event by 13.21 second and coming within one-one hundredth of a second of qualifying for nationals with the 19th-fastest time in the nation.
Jacquline Richard captured first place in the 100 freestyle, squeaking past the competition with a time of 54.49 seconds. Cady Mehringer captured a win in the finals of the 200 meter butterfly, clocking in with a time of 2:12.44. The Grizzlies' 400 meter freestyle team of Mehringer, Karlee Demsey, Halsmer and Richard closed out the event with a runner-up finish and a time of 3:41.15.
Lexi Blackburn made it a clean sweep on the diving boards, racing past the competition on the 3 meter board with a score of 452.65, winning the event by more than 100 points. Earlier in the day, she broke the conference record for 11 dives on the 3-meter board with a score of 467.00.
The Grizzly men captured a second place finish in the 400 freestyle relay. The quartet of Ben Doss, Jordan Cermak, Sam Hall and James Hone clocked in with a time of 3:15.66. Hone would add a runner-up finish in the 200 backstroke with a time of 1:53.63, finishing less than a second out of the top spot. Zach Rayce grabbed a fourth place finish in the same event with a time of 2:00.42.
Both Grizzly divers turned in strong showings on the 1-meter boards. Jacob Keener recorded a runner-up finish in the finals with 502.50 points. During the preliminaries, Keener broke the conference and institution records for six (312.05) and 11 dives (509.75). Teammate Will Combs earned a third place finish on the board after racking up 454.30 points.
With the conference championships in the books, the Grizzlies can turn their attention to the 2018 Liberal Arts Championships, set to take place from Feb. 14-17 in Decorah, Iowa. Day one gets underway at 10:00 a.m.