Barry University’s women’s golf team, which has never won a national title, might get its breakthrough season this year.
The Bucs, led by Swedish sophomore Tilda Larsson, are ranked No. 1 in the nation among NCAA Division II teams, according to GolfStat.
Larsson, who is 5-3, was the Division II National Co-Freshman of the Year last season. She was also a first-team All-American and the Sunshine State Conference’s Co-Player of the Year.
“She’s very consistent,” Barry coach Shannon Sykora said of Larsson, who has won four tournaments at Barry, already a school career record. “Putting is her strength, but every part of her game is solid.”
Larsson is aiming to become the second Barry player to win an individual national title. Nancy Vergara accomplished the feat in 2013.
As for team titles, Barry had been stuck in the local shadow of Nova Southeastern, which won four consecutive national championships, from 2009 to 2012. NSU’s big star during that run was Sandra Changkija, but the Sharks also featured standouts such as Taylor Collins and Abbey Gittings.
Barry started to make some waves earlier this month when the Bucs finished fifth at the Hurricane Invitational. It was the first time in Sykora’s five years at Barry that his team drew an invite, and the Bucs took advantage.
Larsson finished tied for third in the event, three shots off the lead and ahead of any Miami or FIU golfer.
As a team, Barry finished behind four Division I schools, champion Northwestern followed by Michigan, Louisville and Miami. FIU finished ninth.
Besides Larsson, Barry also has two other standouts in Charlotte Puts, a freshman from Netherlands who has a great golf name, and Noemie Pare, a freshman from Quebec, Canada. Both are ranked among the top 15 nationally in Division II and helped Barry put up a good showing at the Hurricanes Invitational.
“We appreciated the invitation from [Miami coach] Patti [Rizzo],” Sykora said. “We saw a lot of good Division I teams. It was a great opportunity for us.”
At this rate, more great opportunities are in store for Barry.
▪ Barry’s men’s basketball team (22-6) will make its seventh NCAA tournament appearance and its fourth in a row when it plays Saturday at 9 p.m. against Eckerd (21-8) in Huntsville, Alabama. Barry, ranked 19th nationally, beat Eckerd both times they played this season but needed double overtime for one of those wins. Barry ranks sixth nationally in scoring (92.3).
▪ FIU’s beach volleyball team (5-1) will travel this weekend to Manhattan Beach, California, where the sport is king. FIU will play Southern Cal and UCLA on Saturday and Long Beach State and Cal Poly on Sunday.
▪ Former Miami Norland guard Brittany Dinkins, now a 5-7 senior women’s basketball star at Southern Miss, might have looked good in FIU or Miami colors. This week, she was named Conference USA’s Defensive Player of the Year. Dinkins ranked seventh nationally and No. 1 in the league in steals (3.2 per game). She also ranked fourth in the league in scoring (18.2) and 12th in assists (3.7), making first team All-Conference. Against Old Dominion, she had a career-high 32 points, 10 steals, eight assists, five rebounds and no turnovers.