UF roundup: Gators shine in pool, on track in SEC Championships

Special to Gatorsports.com

COLUMBIA, Mo. —  Florida leads the team standings after the third night of the 2021 SEC Men's Swimming Championship at the Mizzou Aquatic Center.

Florida held the top spot with 961.50 points Thursday night. Georgia was in second place with 881 points, and Tennessee in third place with 655 points.

The Gators went 1-2 in the 400 IM as Kieran Smith set the pool record with his winning time of 3:37.47 and Bobby Finke came in second with a time of 3:39.15. Ian Grum of Georgia placed third with his time of 3:40.51.

Dillon Hillis of Florida won the 100 breaststroke after he registered an NCAA A-cut time 51.22.

In the final event of the night, Florida set the pool record in the 400 medley relay as Chaney, Hillis, Eric Friese and Smith posted a combined time of 3:02.66.

In the 100 fly final, Eric Friese finishes in fifth with a time of 45.65 and Trey Freeman placed fourth in the 200 free.

Adam Chaney added a silver medal to his resume.

The 2021 SEC Men's Swimming Championship concluded Friday night, past Sun page deadlines. Click to Gatorsports.com for coverage.

The top three at the SEC Men's Swimming Championship Team Scores (Events 1-14 and all diving):

1. Florida 961.50, 2. Georgia 881, 3. Tennessee 655.

Mardal crowned SEC champion in indoor track and field

Florida track and field got off to a strong start Thursday when senior thrower Thomas Mardal collected gold in the weight throw, junior Sterling Lester earned silver in the Pentathlon and the Gators women’s DMR team finished second at this year’s SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships inside the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Mardal, who entered the competition with an NCAA-leading mark of 23.14 meters (75 feet, 11 inches), appeared to have secured the SEC title after a comfortable 24.04 meters (79 feet, 3.25 inches) throw in his first attempt. The Gloppen, Norway native topped the school record by 0.69 meters with that first throw, but that would not be his best performance of the day.

Florida’s new record holder went on to the throw for 23.89 meters, 24.15 meters and finished the day with a best mark of 24.16 meters (79 feet, 3.25 feet), breaking UF’s record three times and the SEC championships meet 10-year-old record. 

On the women’s side, Lester set a personal record and secured the No. 3 spot on UF’s Indoor All-Time Top 10 list after collecting 4,095 points in the pentathlon. The Marietta, Georgia native set new season bests in each of the multis events and a new personal record in the in high jump (1.68 meters – 5 feet, 6 inches). 

The women’s DMR squad, headlined by Gabrielle Wilkinson, Lauryn Ghee, Abbie Harrelson and Imogen Barrett, finished with a time of 11:00.31.

The Gators closed the first day of competition with a leading 16-point score on the women’s side, while the men rank third with 10 team points. The action will continue on Friday.

Coverage of the 2021 SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships will continue on SEC Network+ starting at 1:55 p.m. and 6:25 p.m. today. 

Women's soccer

Florida continues spring play at 6 p.m. today against South Florida. Admission is free at the Donald R. Dizney Stadium, but capped at 368 to ensure social distancing.

It is Gator Soccer Senior Day and Florida will celebrate the careers of eight players in a pre-match ceremony: Madison Alexander, Carina Baltrip-Reyes, Susi Espinoza, Lauren Evans, Kit Loferski, Ashley Pietra, Parker Roberts and Deanne Rose.