ORLANDO – Marco Palacios and Raul Garrastazu got Florida Southern two more individual titles, two meet records and two school records Saturday night, and the Moccasins' 800-freestyle relay teams did their part as well. With Palacios winning the 100-backstroke, Garrastazu winning the 200-butterfly, and both the A and B teams winning their races in night's only relay event, Florida Southern took over first place with one day to go in the Sunshine State Conference Men's Swimming Championships.
Florida Southern began the night trailing Nova Southeastern by only 13 points, but by the end of it, the Moccasins were in front by 30 (606-576), putting a third straight SSC Championship within their grasp. Tampa is still in third place with 542 points, and Saint Leo is fourth with 391.
The Moccasins not only won three of the five championship races Saturday night, they also got silver medals from Jesus Marin in the 500-freestyle and Luis Jasso in the 100-breaststroke. Marin, Luis Rojas, Allan Gutierrez, and Alec Wathen then captured the A finals 800-freestyle relay, and the foursome of Juan Tolosa, Dylan Lake, Garrastazu, and Parker Basting also won the B finals, contributing a 10-point margin to Florida Southern's lead over Nova.
Up first for Florida Southern on Saturday were Marin and Tolosa in the 500-freestyle, and both of them reached the A finals where they finished second and fourth respectively. Marin's time of 4:29.59 was his best of the season, but Saint Leo's Daniel Bis set a new SSC Championship record by winning in 4:22.50. With Nova Southeastern getting three of its swimmers into the A finals and four into the B, the Sharks were actually able to add to their lead coming into Saturday by 18 points.
That changed dramatically though in the 100-backstroke where Florida Southern had four in the A finals and one more in the B, while Nova had no one reach the A finals and three make it to the B. Palacios was one of those for Florida Southern, clocking in at 47.15 seconds, an NCAA automatic qualifying time that broke the previous SSC Championship record by nearly one full second. It also broke the Florida Southern school record set by Jeb Halfacre at the 2012 NCAA Division II National Finals where he put up a time of 47.41 seconds.
After Palacios touched the wall, the Moccasins had Diego Gimenez finish third, Luis Rojas finish fourth, and Edson Lima place seventh. With Evan Coleman taking second in the B finals, the Mocs outscored the Sharks 70-16 in the 100-backstroke, giving them the lead for rest of the night. (23)
Nova was able to win the 100-breaststroke behind Anton Lobanov's meet-record time of 52.00 seconds, but Jasso was the runner-up in 55.47 seconds, giving the Moccasins their first NCAA provisional qualifier in that event this season. Lake was seventh, and the Mocs had three more swimmers in the B finals where Mason York, Parker Basting, and Richie Merrill all scored additional points.
In the final individual race of the night, Garrastazu set the new SSC Championship record in the 200-butterfly, swimming it in 1:46.49 to break the mark he himself had established last year. That had also stood as the school record until Garrastazu broke it Saturday. Wathen also scored points for the Moccasins by placing seventh in the 200-butterfly.
Florida Southern ended the night with a gold medal in the 800-freestyle relay, winning that title for the fourth year in a row. Rojas and Gutierrez have been a part of all four championship teams, as they helped the Moccasins turn in a time of 6:34.42, just 1.72 seconds ahead of Nova Southeastern.
The final day of the SSC Championships is Sunday, with prelims at 10 a.m. and finals in five more events at 5 p.m.