Franklin teams making splash

First the Johnson County Meet, then the Mid-State Conference championships.

Franklin dominated tournaments. Boys and girls.

Can the sectional be next?

At the rate the Grizzly Cubs’ boys and girls swimming and diving teams are going, that would seem likely.

Not a certainty, but a strong probability.

Ranked in the top 20 of the boys and girls polls, the Cubs show no signs of slowing down as the postseason approaches (the girls sectional starts Feb. 4; the boys begins Feb. 18). They followed up last month’s sweep of the county meet with a sweep of last Saturday’s Mid-State Conference championships at Plainfield.

At the Mid-State, Franklin’s girls collected 11 championships, including all three relays and eight individual titles. The boys earned nine championships, including a relay sweep and six individual crowns.

On the girls side, Franklin’s individual winners were Carla Gildersleeve (200 and 500 freestyles), Ali Terrell (200 IM, 100 breaststroke), Abi Gibson (50 freestyle), Anna McCahill (100 butterfly), Brenna Pearcy (100 freestyle) and Jessie Fraley (100 backstroke). The group combined for eight conference records.

On the boys side, the Cubs’ individual champions were Jacob Destrampe (200 freestyle, 100 butterfly), Griffin Edwards (200 IM), A.J. Rice (50 freestyle), Chance Gildersleeve (500 freestyle) and Michael Couet (100 breaststroke). The group combined for three conference records.

Little wonder coach Zach Dewitt, who’s in his fourth season with the Cubs, is confident of both teams’ chances to make a splash in the postseason. The boys and girls teams are the only ranked teams in the sectional field, and Franklin is the host.

“I think it will be safe to say that we will compete and have every intention of winning the sectional,” said DeWitt, whose goal has always been for both teams to excel at the same time.

To date, the boys program has by far been the most successful. Ranked No. 16 in the most recent state poll, they have won three straight sectional championships and are poised to make it four in a row.

The girls, however, have not won a sectional title since 1989. But they are ranked No. 11 and are firmly positioned to end the postseason drought.

“It’s something the program’s been striving for for a long time,” DeWitt said. “ We’ve had sustained success on the boys side but haven’t really broken through to the upper echelon with the girls, so obviously watching their success is really rewarding because it’s come through a lot of hard work and dedication for many years.”

Grizzlies announce new coaches

The Franklin College football team has hired three new offensive coaches for the 2016 season.They are former NFL player Craig Yeast, former Franklin star Kyle Linville and former Marian University player Dan Watson.Yeast, who played two seasons at wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, is the new offensive coordinator. He most recently was the head coach at Freemont Ross High School in Ohio.

Linville, an All-American wide receiver who graduated from Franklin in 2013, is an assistant coach. He owns every major receiving record at Franklin.

Watson, who was a captain of the Marian football team, is the new offensive line coach. He was most recently the offensive line coach at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana.

In other coaching news, head coach Mike Leonard has promoted Steve Rock to assistant coach, promoted Mel Mills to defensive coordinator, and promoted Brian Harbin to offensive coaching assistant.

Franklin has won six straight Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference championships and was 8-3 in 2015.

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Rick Morwick is sports editor of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2715.