State Colleges

Barry University rowing team brings home two national titles

After Barry University’s women’s rowing team won a national title in the Varsity 4+ on Sunday, those five athletes sprinted over to cheer on their teammates in the Bucs’ other boat, the Varsity 8+.

When the Bucs won that race as well — beating Mercyhurst in both events — they became NCAA Division II national champions for the first time in program history.

“We started jumping up and down, hugging each other and chanting ‘Bar-ry, Bar-ry!’” said Beth Desmond, a junior from New Jersey. “We had a party on the beach.”

Those festivities took place in the Sacramento area — Lake Natoma in Gold River, California — and it culminated a long march of the program’s progress, which included eight previous trips to the NCAA championships.

Barry finished second in 2006 and 2013, and Desmond was a freshman on that latter team.

“We were more cocky then than we are now,” said Desmond, one of the team captains along with Barry MVP Mandy Carper, a senior from New Hampshire. “This year, we pictured ourselves as the underdogs. When you do that, you want to win more.”

That message came from Boban Rankovic, who is in his second year as Barry’s coach, and Lindsay Shoop, in her first season as the Bucs’ assistant.

Both of those coaches are former Olympic rowers — Rankovic helped Serbia finish eighth in the 2000 Games, and Shoop won a gold medal for Team USA in 2008. With all that expert instruction, it was up to the Barry rowers, who took what they learned and went undefeated this year in races against Division II competition.

During the spring season, each race is 2,000 meters. Barry’s 8s won the NCAA title by an impressive eight seconds. Their time was 7 minutes 11.548 seconds.

Barry’s 4s boat, led by Carper and Desmond, won by nearly three seconds. Their time was 7:49.155.

“Nobody was going to give us that trophy,” said Rankovic, whose rowers, like all the others, battled headwinds at the NCAA finals. “We had to earn it.”

NOVA SOUTHEASTERN

Nova Southeastern men’s golfer Santiago Gomez, a junior from Colombia, on Friday was named this year’s NCAA Division II Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year.

Gomez will receive the honor from Nicklaus on Sunday at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. On Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, Gomez and four other award winners will play an 18-hole playoff, and the winner earns an exemption into an upcoming PGA Tour event.

CATCHING UP

▪ Within the past two weeks, golfer Ben Taylor’s current team (LSU) and his former school (NSU) won NCAA national championships in Division I and II, respectively.

Taylor, a senior originally from England, also won a national title as an NSU freshman and transferred to LSU after his sophomore season.

On Wednesday in Bradenton, he hit the winning shot — a tricky nine-foot putt for par — to beat Southern California, giving LSU its first golf championship in 60 years. Taylor also had the winning shot to beat Georgia in the semifinals.

▪ Softball outfielder Bailey Castro, who won state championships during her freshman and sophomore seasons at American Heritage, finished her college career on Wednesday by leading the Florida Gators to their second NCAA title in a row.

She started 172 games at Florida, including 61 this season. She was second on the team this season with 17 homers as the Gators went 60-7. As a freshman, she hit two homers in one inning against Ole Miss, and she has also made the SEC Academic Honor Roll during her impressive career.

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