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

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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.