Roundup: Florida men in first, women second at SEC Championships

The Championship trophy is displayed at the SEC men's NCAA college basketball media day, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Special to The Sun

ATHENS, Ga. — The Florida men’s swimming & diving team finished day three of the SEC Championships in first place Thursday. The Gators have 636 points to second-pace Missouri’s 625.

Maxime Rooney broke the Georgia pool record in the prelims and followed that up with a stellar performance in the finals as he broke the record for a second time.

Robert Finke, Kieran Smith and Grant Sanders swept the 400 IM A Final for UF. Finke placed first with a personal-best time of 3:40.94. Smith clocked a career-best 3:41.50 and finished in second. Sanders completed the sweep in third with a swim of 3:42.87. Alex Lebed recorded a season-best mark of 3:44.93 and placed second in the B Final. Ross Palazzo finished in second place in the C Final with a career-best 3:46.46.

Rooney followed his prelim performance with an outstanding swim in the 100 Fly A Final as he broke the Georgia pool record for the second time in as many swims.

Khader Baqlah collected a bronze finish in the 200 Free A Final with a swim of 1:32.71.

Day four begins with the 200 Fly prelims at 10 a.m. Friday.

In the women’s competition, Vanessa Pearl claimed her second podium of the SEC Championships, with a second-place finish in the 400 IM. The Florida women’s swimming & diving team finished day three in second place with 561.5 points. Texas A&M leads the event with 618.5 points.

Pearl got the finals started with an NCAA A Cut time and a career-best swim of 4:03.56. She holds the third-fastest swim in UF history.

Florida had three swimmers qualify for the 400 IM A Final. Pearl led the group with a 4:05.23 and placed second in the prelims. Hannah Burns posted a career-best swim of 4:06.24 and finished in third.

Women’s basketball: LSU defeated Florida 69-51 in Baton Rouge to improve to 16-9 overall and 7-6 in the SEC. Funda Nakkasoglu scored a team-high 11 points for the Gators (6-20, 2-11). Florida returns home for back-to-back matchups at the O’Connell Center. The Gators host Texas A&M at 7 p.m. Monday.

SEC Indoor Championships: At Fayetteville, Ark., the men’s competition today and Saturday features three top-10 teams, and another three top-20 squads. On the women’s side, four teams enter in the top 10, while four more are in the top 25. Florida’s men, who sit at No. 3 in the latest national rankings, finished third at this meet a season ago, just 7.5 points behind champion Alabama. UF’s women, who are No. 7 in the national rankings, placed sixth last year at SEC Indoors.

The program boasts a pair of returning champions (Clayton Brown, Triple Jump and Grant Holloway, 60-meter hurdles), as well as a handful of medalists back for another run at an SEC Indoors title.

Softball: No. 3 Florida will host the Bubly Invitational today-Sunday, as Illinois State, Syracuse and Florida A&M all make the trip to Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.

The Gators (12-0) will play six games over the three-day stretch with a pair of games each scheduled against the Redbirds, the Orange and the Lady Rattlers. UF holds an all-time 33-2 record against the Bubly Invitational field entering the weekend. UF plays Illinois State at 5 p.m. today and Florida A&M at 7:30 p.m.

Fans can listen to Florida this weekend via the radio on 92.1-FM/1230-AM.