BIRMINGHAM, AL – A third-place finish by senior Marco Palacios in the 100-backstroke gave Florida Southern another medal to add to its count, senior Antonio Nunez-Alvarez reached the championship finals of another of his individual events, and seven other Moccasins claimed either All-American or honorable mention All-American awards on the third day of the NCAA Division II Men's Swimming & Diving Championships. Those totals helped the Moccasins remain in fifth place overall, and well within striking distance of third, with one day and five events remaining.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Palacios medaled in the 100-backstroke for the second year in a row when he finished third in what was the second event of the night. His time of 47.03 seconds was nearly identical to the automatic qualifying time he had at the conference championships as he finished behind Paul Pijulet of Queens (NC) and Serghei Golban of Lindenwood (MO). Pijulet won the race in 46.58 seconds, and Golban was second in 46.89. The Moccasins also got seniors Diego Gimenez and Evan Coleman into the consolation finals of the 100-back where they were second and third respectively. Gimenez nearly made the championship finals after tying with Jake Minasi of Limestone (SC) for the eighth fastest time during prelims, but Minasi edged him out during a swim-off for the final spot. Gimenez and Coleman ended up 0.06 seconds apart in the consolation final. The performance of the three backstroke swimmers helped Florida Southern move ahead of Nova Southeastern into fourth place at that point in the night, and within two points of third-place Grand Valley State (MI).
- Junior Luis Jasso claimed honorable mention All-American honors in the 100-breaststroke when he finished fourth in the consolation final in 54.42 seconds. Another swimmer from the Sunshine State Conference won that event with Anton Lobanov taking the gold medal for the third year in a row. That was enough to move the Sharks back in front of the Moccasins in the team standings and all the way up to third, with the Mocs slipping back to fifth.
- Nunez-Alvarez reached the championship finals of the 200-butterfly after advancing to the finals of the 200-IM on Wednesday, and the consolation finals of the 400-IM on Thursday. Swimming a 1:47.12 for his best time of the season, Nunez-Alvarez finished sixth and they were crucial points for the Moccasins as they again moved into fourth place overall, nine ahead of Grand Valley State and still eight within third-place Nova Southeastern.
- One area where the Moccasins were unable to match Grand Valley State was in diving, and the Lakers used that to their advantage by having both the silver and bronze medalist in the 1-meter competition. Those 33 points were enough to push them back ahead of Florida Southern for fourth place and keep them there even after the Moccasins finished seventh in the 800-freestyle relay, a race where GVSU did not score any points.
- That relay race improbably had not one, but two ties in the championship final. Simon Fraser and Missouri S&T finished tied for fifth, and Florida Southern tied Indianapolis for seventh at 6:33.85 with a team of junior Luka Matacin and a trio of sophomores, Nico Campbell, Matthew Holmes and Luka Planinc. A win by Queens (NC) in that race, the third gold medal of the day for the Royals, gave the defending national champions a commanding lead over Drury going into Saturday's schedule.
- The only event that did not see at least one Florida Southern swimmer pick up an All-American award on Friday was the first event of the night, the 500-freestyle, and even then it came very close to happening. Planinc and Holmes were both in the prelims, and Planinc's time of 4:30.21 was six-tenths of a second away from putting him in the consolation finals.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- At the end of the night, Queens (NC) led Drury (MO) 450½-276, and Nova Southeastern was third with 214 points. Grand Valley State was fourth with 207, and Florida Southern was just 10 points behind them with 197. The Moccasins were able to open up a 39-point lead over sixth-place Lindenwood (MO).
UP NEXT: The final day of the National Finals begins Saturday morning with prelims at 11:30 Eastern Time, and the finals in five events get underway at 6:30 p.m. EST.