State Colleges

For Nova Southeastern’s Juan Jose Guerra, ‘golf has been my life’

Robert Guerra, who sells ceramic flooring in the Dominican Republic, took up golf in 1996. One year later, his son, Juan Jose, was born, and the two instantly became constant companions on the golf course.

“I took my first swing when I was  2 1/2 years old,” Juan Jose Guerra said. “I still have that plastic golf club with me.”

These days, Guerra is swinging a mean stick as a standout freshman with the Nova Southeastern University Sharks, the defending national champions in NCAA Division II.

Last week, Guerra finished ninth at the Southeastern Collegiate championships, and his final-round 66 was the best round of the tournament. He finished that round with an amazing run of five consecutive birdies.

Guerra, listed at 5-7 and 142 pounds, is the smallest golfer on the Sharks, but he makes it work.

“He’s an extremely good ball-striker — very confident in that regard,” NSU coach Ryan Jamison said. “He’s very talented across the board, technically sound. And he loves golf.”

That love bloomed in an unlikely place.

Baseball is normally the passion for boys in his hometown of Santo Domingo, where there is only one “decent” golf course.

“After the Santo Domingo Country Club,” Guerra said, “you can drive for 90 minutes and not see another golf course.”

Baseball fields, on the other hand, are everywhere. Guerra played the Dominicans’ national obsession from the ages of 5 to 12, but when it came time to decide his future, he chose golf.

He is studying business at NSU, but that is not his primary focus.

“To be honest, I never thought about it,” Guerra said when asked about what career he wants after he’s done playing. “Golf has been my life.”

▪ NSU’s baseball team entered this weekend with a largely unimpressive 16-11 record, but the Sharks showed what they can do last week when they took two out of three from Tampa, the No. 1 team in the nation in NCAA Division II.

Tampa entered that series with a 20-1 record and averaging 13 hits yet was shut down by NSU senior right-hander Alex Mateo in the opener. Mateo allowed four hits, one walk and one run, none earned, in 8 1/3 innings.

FIU

Panthers women’s basketball recruit Kayla Rogers, a 5-8 senior point guard, will lead her Jacksonville Ribault team in the Dick’s Sporting Goods national tournament on April 1 in New York.

The tournament features four teams — all ranked among the top 13 schools in the nation — and it should be a great experience for Rogers, who is averaging 11.4 points and 4.4 assists.

Ribault coach Shelia Seymore-Pennick said Rogers loves FIU and still wants to go to school there despite the fact that Panthers coach Marlon Chin was fired this month amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Rogers is just waiting to see who is named as FIU’s new coach.

In Friday’s semifinals, Ribault plays Arizona state champ Seton Catholic and Maryland’s Riverdale Baptist plays Georgia state champ Saint Francis. The final is at 10 a.m. Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

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