Franklin College has already had one All-American athlete this winter season.
If everything falls into the place, the Grizzlies will have a second this weekend.
Sophomore Artur Schneider will make history today when he becomes the first Franklin swimmer to compete in the NCAA Division III National Swimming and Diving Championships.
Not only that, he’ll earn All-America honors with a top-eight finish in any of this three events: 100-yard backstroke, 100 freestyle and 200 backstroke.
The nationals began Wednesday and conclude Saturday. The CISD Natatorium in Shenandoah, Texas, is the host venue.
Schneider, a citizen of Zurich, Switzerland, competes today in the 100 backstroke. The 100 freestyle and 200 backstroke races are Saturday.
On paper, Schneider is positioned for at least one top-eight finish. During the regular season, he posted the eighth-fastest time in the nation in the 100 backstroke (49.47).
Should he earn All-America honors, Schneider will become the college’s second winter athlete to earn the distinction in a week.
Last weekend, senior Anna Murdock became an All-American with an eighth-place finish in the 800-meter run at the Division III National Indoor Track and Field Championships in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Another Grizzly honored
For the second time of the young season, Franklin College freshman Olivia Paszek has earned honorable mention honors for the Louisville Slugger National Fastpitch Coaches Association Pitcher of the Week award.
A left-hander from Franklin Community High School, Paszek was 2-0 last week with a 1.08 ERA. She struck out four in four-hit shutout against NCAA Division III No. 25 DePauw on March 15. The previous day she struck out five in a complete-game win against Cleary University.
On the season, Paszek is 4-2 with a 2.06 ERA. She has a team-leading 32 strikeouts and has limited opponents to a collective .161 batting average.
Off to the races
Speaking again of track and field, the Franklin College women’s team is projected to finish first in the Heartland College Athletic Conference outdoor season.
In a poll of league coaches announced Wednesday, the Grizzlies picked up six of 10 first-place votes. The forecast is not surprising, in light of the fact Franklin won the HCAC Indoor championship last month.
The Grizzlies are fueled by a number of local athletes.
Leading the way is the aforementioned Murdock, an Indian Creek High School graduate who is coming off an All-America performance at the indoor nationals. She is a two-time outdoor national qualifier and was named the HCAC’s Outdoor Female Athlete of the Year in 2013 and 2014.
Former Edinburgh standout Ashley Myers adds depth and versatility as a distance runner, long-jumper and high-jumper. Sophomore Erica Christy, a Greenwood graduate, is the Grizzlies’ top returning thrower. She placed second in the shot put during last month’s HCAC Indoor Championships.
Franklin’s other top athletes include junior Natavia Howell, the 60-meter indoors dash champion, and junior hurdles specialists Kasey King and Emily Young.
On the men’s side, the Grizzlies are projected for a fifth-place finish in the preseason poll, which also was released Wednesday. The slot is one place higher than their sixth-place showing at the indoors finals.
Senior Clay Warner, a Franklin Community High School graduate, is expected to contend for league titles in the triple and long jumps.
The outdoor season-opener for the men’s and women’s teams is Saturday at the Rose-Hulman Early Bird Invitational.