For anyone who thinks rowing is not necessarily a cut-throat competitive sport, just listen to Barry University’s two coxswains, who are, in essence, the coaches on their particular boats.
“I love race day,” said Stephanie Dinkel, a junior from Winter Park who is majoring in nursing. “You go to hell and back with your sisters — that’s what I love most about [rowing].
“You get so excited and so pumped, you’re just ready to slaughter the other team.”
Barry teammate Angela Dasch, a senior from Sebastian who is majoring in sport management, was just as blunt.
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“You go to battle with your best friends,” she said. “You watch your best friends die for your race — blood, sweat and tears. You just bond with them through that death.”
Barry, which won its first NCAA Division II national rowing championship last year, hopes to go for two titles in a row May 27-29 at Gold River, California.
Barry’s coaches — Boban Rankovic, 37, and his assistant, Lindsay Shoop, 34 — have Olympic rowing experience. Rankovic, representing his native Serbia, finished eighth in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Shoop, representing the United States, won gold in 2008 in Beijing, China.
Rankovic said he has almost his entire team back from last season, with the notable exception of Virginia Diaz, who is taking the year off to try to make Spain’s 2016 Olympics team.
▪ Meanwhile, Barry’s men’s basketball team, which made its first run to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight this season, will now have to replace its top three scorers in forward Yunio Barrueta, guard Anders Haas and center Tray Leonard.
Barrueta and Leonard were also the team’s top two rebounders, and Barrueta is arguably the best player in program history.
Two players to watch next season are Adrian Gonzalez, who made 60.7 percent of his shots from the floor, and Elvar Fridriksson, one of the top point guards in Division II.
Gonzalez, a 6-5 wing who will be a senior next season, has to show he can carry a college team as opposed to playing in Barrueta’s shadow. Gonzalez took only eight three-point shots this season — low for a wing. If he can add to that part of his game, it will make his drives even more dangerous.
Fridriksson, who will be a junior, has said he has always been a scoring point guard prior to this season. He believes he can average considerably more than the 10.8 points he gave this season and will be out to prove that belief.
Reliever Cooper Hammond, a junior who sustained an arm injury on March 8 against Maine, opted not to have surgery and is hoping to return by mid-April.
With 79 appearances in two-plus years, Hammond has been the primary setup man to Miami closer Bryan Garcia, who could finish this season as the Hurricanes’ leader in career saves.