INDIANAPOLIS – Already armed with two gold medals as a relay swimmer and one NCAA record, junior Marco Palacios picked up another medal on Friday, this time as an individual. His second-place finish in the 100-backstroke along with fifth and seventh-place showings from junior Diego Gimenez and senior Edson Lima helped Florida Southern remain in third place overall with one day remaining in the NCAA National Swimming & Diving Championships.
The Moccasins were able to close the gap on Lindenwood (MO) and are now only 29 points out of second place. Queens (NC) is still in first with 327 points, with a 64½-point lead over Lindenwood and a 93½-point margin over Florida Southern with one day remaining.
The 100-backstroke swimmers were the highlight of the night for Florida Southern, with Palacios winning his silver medal in a time of 46.71 seconds, a time that would have been a school record if not for his time on Thursday night's leadoff leg of the 400-medley relay. He swam that one in 46.27 second, breaking his own record and setting a new one for the Division II Championships as well. Though not quite as fast on Friday, Palacios was still fast enough to finish second and his 1-day old record held up with Lindenwood's Serghei Golban winning the 100-backstroke in 46.56.
With Gimenez fifth in 47.81 seconds and Lima seventh in 48.55, the Moccasins scored 43 points in that event with their three All-Americans, and still out-scored Lindenwood despite the Lions' individual win.
The Moccasins had two swimmers in the 100-breaststroke Friday night, where freshman Sean Kim was seventh and sophomore Luis Jasso was 10th. Jasso actually had the better time while swimming in the consolation finals at 54.03 seconds compared to Kim's 54.18, though both swimmers picked up their first individual All-American awards of the meet.
Freshman Matthew Holmes and senior Raul Garrastazu were honorable mention All-Americans too on Friday, with Holmes placing 14th in the 500-freestyle in 4:30.13, and Garrastazu 10th in the 200-butterfly in 1:48.20. Holmes' time in the prelims of the 500 was the Mocs' fastest of the season, and Garrastazu turned in their best time in the 200-fly.
Florida Southern closed out the night with a ninth-place finish from its 800-freestyle relay team of Holmes, Garrastazu, Gimenez and senior Jesus Marin swimming leadoff. With no designated prelims in that event, the Moccasins were actually in an earlier heat and had to wait for Friday night's final heat to learn their position. They were able to better their previous season-best time with a mark of 6:34.79 and finish one spot ahead of Lindenwood, cutting another four points off the deficit for second place in the team standings.
With Queens, Lindenwood, and Florida Southern holding the top three spots, Nova Southeastern is fourth and Delta State (MS) is fifth. The Sharks trail the third-place Moccasins by 34½ points. Saint Leo and Tampa are also in the top-10 from the Sunshine State Conference, with the Lions eighth and the Spartans ninth.
Saturday is the last day of the NCAA Finals, with prelims again starting at 10:30 a.m., and finals in five events Saturday night at 6 p.m.