LAKELAND, FL – A massive performance by senior distance swimmer Luka Planinc set 13th-ranked Florida Southern up for a six-point win over NJCAA National Champion Indian River State on Friday. Swimming in the final home meet of his career, Planinc won the 1,000 and 500 as an individual before anchoring the winning 400-freestyle relay team in a meet-clinching race that gave the Moccasins their 135½-126½ victory.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- In the 200-medley relay that kicked off the meet, the Moccasin contingent of Brandon Dyck, Matthew Holmes, JJ Saslo, and Nico Campbell turned in a time of 1:33.56, one of their best of the season, but finished two-tenths of a second behind Indian River's top team. The River's B team also finished ahead of the Mocs' B team, giving them an early 13-4 lead in the scoring.
- Florida Southern's distance swimmers got the Moccasins going, with Planinc, Cole Smith, and Daniel Rodriguez finishing 1-2-3 in the 1,000-freestyle a little over three seconds apart. Planinc had a winning time of 9:46.03, and no Indian River swimmer was within 15 seconds of Rodriguez in third.
- Indian River immediately re-claimed the lead when Joshua Stegen won the 200-free in 1:41.64, another close race that saw Matias Lopez less than two-tenths of a second behind him. Campbell placed fourth and Carlos Bernotti was fifth, which still gave the Mocs seven of the 19 points in that event.
- The lead went back to Florida Southern when Dyck won the 100-backstroke in 49.80 seconds, putting him 0.57 seconds ahead of Jarryd Baxter. Talor Hamilton's fourth-place finish by 0.04 seconds, however, is what put the Mocs on top at that point in the meet, 38-36.
- The Moccasins were able to widen the gap a bit when Holmes won the 100-breast, Andrew Brown took third, and Dorian Bachlaj was fifth. Holmes had a time of 58.13 to defeat Indian River's Christian Nishimura by 1.05 seconds.
- Indian River fought back with its butterfly swimmers, winning the 200 in yet another near-photo finish. This time it was Ruben Van Leeuwen over Miguel Bernotti by 0.35 seconds. Calvin Giang got a critical fifth-place point for the Moccasins, which kept the overall score tied at 56.
- Just before the first break, Florida Southern got first, second, and fourth-place finishes from Hamilton, Dyck, and Planinc in the 50-freestyle to go on top by 11. Hamilton touched in 21.38 seconds, Dyck touched in 21.78, and Planinc had a mark of 21.95.
- Florida Southern added to its lead when Holmes won the 100-free, Carlos Bernotti was third, and Levi Parsons was fifth. Holmes' time of 46.59 put him four-tenths of a second ahead of Stegen, and Bernotti was 0.19 seconds behind Stegen.
- With the overall score now at 84-66 in favor of Florida Southern, Indian River got back-to-back wins from Baxter in the 200-back and Nishimura in the 200-breast to remain in contention. Baxter finished 0.39 seconds ahead of Lopez in the backstroke race, where Harrison Paul and Giang also scored for the Moccasins. The results were similar in the 200-breast where Bachlaj was the runner-up, Brown was fourth and Pedro Bernotti was fifth.
- With their lead now down to eight points, the Moccasins again relied on Planinc for a spark. He won the 500-free in 4:40.74, with Indian River's Tiger Pilkington just 0.23 seconds behind him. Cole Smith was third and Ethan Shaw fifth.
- Van Leeuwen picked up his second win of the meet for Indian River, taking the 100-fly by 1.21 seconds over Campbell, who had a time of 51.54 for Florida Southern. When Saslo tied for third, it gave the teams a split of the five points awarded for third and fourth and kept the Mocs ahead in the meet by nine points with two events remaining.
- Baxter got Indian River a little closer by winning the 400-IM in 3:57.80, with Holmes second for Florida Southern in 4:01.27. Lopez was immediately behind him in third, but with the River taking 12 of the 19 points, it left the Moccasins clinging to a four-point lead going into the 400-freestyle relay. That meant the winner of that race would also be the winner of the meet.
- The Moccasins A team jumped out to the lead with Campbell on the first leg, and Dyck kept them there halfway through the race, albeit by a little over half a second. Carlos Bernotti added another half second more to the lead, but it was Planinc who closed things out to give Florida Southern a winning margin of 1.13 seconds and a total time of 3:03.88.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Friday's meet was the second in a row that came down to the 400-freestyle relay. Last Saturday at Nova Southeastern, the Sharks held on for a 132-130 win over the Moccasins. It also marked the third year in a row the Mocs' meet against Indian River was decided by single digits. The River won last year in Fort Pierce 103-102, and 106-99 two years ago in Lakeland. That means the last three meets between them have seen Florida Southern score 336½ points and Indian River score 335½.
- Planinc had his third career multi-win meet. He previously won two events as a sophomore against Florida Tech and again as a junior against Emory. Friday was his first win of the season in the 1,000 and second in the 500. He was swimming the 50 for only the second time this season, and he was on the anchor leg in the 400-freestyle relay for the first time.
- Dyck ran his winning streak in the 100-back to five in a row.
- Hamilton earned his first win of the season in the 50-free, and Holmes picked up his second in the 100. Holmes now has sole possession of first place on the Moccasins' individual wins list this year with 10 overall.
Florida Southern's next competition will be at the 2019 Sunshine State Conference Championships, February 21-24, in Clearwater.