CLEARWATER, FL – The final day of the 2018 Sunshine State Conference Men's Swimming Championships saw Florida Southern win two more gold medals and junior Matthew Holmes awarded the trophy as the swimmer-of-the-meet. Claiming those individual wins Sunday night were Matias Lopez in the 200-backstroke and Luis Jasso in the 200-breaststroke, while Holmes' performance throughout the meet helped the Moccasins finish as runner-up to Nova Southeastern.
Holmes is the first men's swimmer to win that award for Florida Southern in the eight years the SSC has conducted a championship meet. Mary O'Sullivan won the women's award in 2011 for the Moccasins. The junior from Rockledge, Florida earned three individual medals, including two gold by winning the 200-IM and the 400-IM in conference and meet record times. He also picked up a silver in the 500-freestyle and place fifth in the 200-breaststroke, posting NCAA automatic or provisional times in all of them.
In addition to the individual medals, Holmes anchored the Moccasins' winning 400-medley relay team and swam the leadoff leg for the victorious 800-freestyle team. That gave him a total of four gold medals and one silver in the meet while also competing for the 400-freestyle team that placed fifth.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Luka Planinc was Florida Southern's first medalist Sunday with a third-place finish in the 1,650-freestyle. He swam a time of 15:34.17, his best of the season to improve on his earlier NCAA provisional qualifying time. It's the second bronze for Planinc in the 1,650 in as many years. Charles Gotsch placed 10th and had an NCAA provisional time as well, and Jonathan Sawyer placed 12th. Nova Southeastern's Franco Lupoli won the 1,650 in 15:23.94, a new meet record, and the Sharks also had the silver medalist in Samuel Brettmann at 15:29.39, and the fourth-place finisher in Blake Woodrow. With the Sharks also taking seventh and ninth, they were able to out-score the Mocs 73-28 in that event to more than double what had been a 43-point lead entering the final day.
- Another bronze medal followed in the 100-freestyle where Noah Franz finished third in 44.29 seconds, the best by a Moccasin this year and 0.17 seconds away from the school record. He was the only Moccasin swimmer to reach the A or B finals though, whereas Nova Southeastern had five advance, though all of them finished well behind Franz. Florida Tech's Victor Rocha Furtado won his second sprint title of the meet by swimming the 100 in 43.86 seconds for 0.22-second win over Saint Leo's Hunter Bains.
- The 200-backstroke belonged to Florida Southern Sunday night just as the 100-backstroke did on Saturday. Lopez won in 1:45.78, Brandon Dyck was second in 1:46.27, and Luka Matacin was fourth in 1:49.11. All of those times were season-bests and NCAA "B" times, with Matacin putting his name on the list for the first time. With Matthew Curran placing 10th, Talor Hamilton 14th, and Calvin Giang 15th, the Moccasins out-scored the Sharks 64-21, almost completely erasing the earlier scoring advantage the Sharks had in the 1,650. The win by Lopez also kept Florida Southern's streak of 200-backstroke victories alive at the SSC Championships, which is now at eight in a row.
- Jasso won his second gold medal of the meet by capturing the 200-breaststroke in 1:57.06, a margin of 2.06 seconds over runner-up Adan Diaz of Nova Southeastern. That gave him his best time of the season and marked the fourth year in a row Jasso has been first or second in the 200-breast. He was runner-up to Anton Lobanov three years in a row. Holmes was fifth in 2:00.86, slipping in just under the NCAA provisional qualifying time.
- Florida Southern closed things out with a fifth-place finish in the 400-freestyle relay. The combination of Holmes, Matacin, Planinc, and Lopez put together a time of 2:59.94 in a race won by Florida Tech in 2:56.43.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Lupoli won both the 1,650 and the 1,000 for the second year in a row for Nova Southeastern, but finished ninth in the 500 as the defending champion in that event. Planinc had a bronze in the 1,650 and 1,000 this year.
- Franz earned a bronze in the 100-free for the second year in a row and his time in that event was the best any Moccasin has had in the championship race. Franz had the previous best last year.
- The eight straight SSC titles in the 200-back now include Jeb Halfacre (2011-12), Luis Rojas (2013), Thomas Nguyen (2014), Marco Palacios (2015-17) and Lopez.
- When Lopez and Dyck finished 1-2 in the 200-backstroke, it was the third time in this year's meet two Moccasins claimed gold and silver in an event. It happened in the 200-IM on Thursday (Holmes and Matacin) and the 100-breast on Saturday (Jasso and Kim).
- In the final team standings, Nova Southeastern came out on top with 876 points to Florida Southern's 802. Florida Tech was third with 549, followed by Tampa (548), Saint Leo (443) and Rollins (216). The Sharks won the title for the second year in a row following four straight titles by Florida Southern. Both schools have now won four SSC men's swimming championships.
- Even though the Moccasins finished second to the Sharks in the standings they had more than double the gold medals (10-to-4) and more total medals (20-to-17). In addition to their 10 golds, the Mocs had five silvers and five bronzes. The 10 gold medals are the most Florida Southern has ever had at the SSC Championships after they had nine on three previous occasions.
- While Holmes led all individual scorers in the meet with 71 points, three other Moccasins were in the top-10. Franz finished fourth with 59, Jasso was fifth with 58, and Matacin tied for sixth with 57.
The Moccasins will now await word on individual selections for the NCAA Division II National Championships, which will be announced Thursday night, March 1. The national finals are March 14-17 in Greensboro, North Carolina.