March 4, 2010

By Adam Geigerman
Special to

As the landscape of collegiate athletics heads to its final month of madness on the hardwood, the battles on the meticulously manicured greens and fairways of the NCAA's Division II golf courses are just beginning. The 37-year old championship tradition of Men's Division II Golf is here again.

Barry University took the No. 1 spot in the spring's first Golf World/Nike Coaches' Poll - a breakdown of 22 conferences and more than 200 schools - garnering 10 of the possible 18 first-place votes.

The No. 1 Barry University, No. 3 Cal State-Chico, No. 9 Western Washington University, No. 24 Abilene Christian and No. 25 Cal State- Stanislaus golf programs took to the course at the Coyote Classic in San Bernardino, Calif. on Mar. 1-2, hosted by Cal State Bernardino at Arrowhead CC. But it was unranked Cal State-Monterey Bay who shone brightest, topping the field with an 8-over 848 over the 54-hole Tourney.

Riding a final-day 281, the Otters held onto a Day Two lead to hold off their regional and CCAA rivals. Seniors Oskar Nystrom - who shot a team-low 68 on Day Three - and Scott Yeakel paved the way for Monterey Bay with three-day scores of 210, good for fourth place.

As for top-ranked Barry, the Buccaneers leaped from their Day One fourth position to finish tied with Cal State-Chico for second with a team score of 851. Chris Carlin (71-70-71), Victor Billskoog (72-69-72) and Daniel Stapff (71-70-72) led Barry's men, finishing tied for 11th with a total score of 212. The Bucs return to action at the Southern Collegiate Tournament at Kinderlou Forrest Golf Club in Valdosta, Georgia on March 15.

For Chico, the Wildcats' Lucas Delgado paced his team with a 210 (69- 72- 69), finishing tied for fourth overall. Two of his teammates posted top-15 finishes, with Kyle Souza (66- 71- 74= 211) tied for seventh and Brandon Harkins (71- 72- 70= 213) tied for 11th.

The Wildcats brought along an individual player also, in Sylvester Gama. Gama carded a 7-under par second-place finish. He never posted a score above par throughout the tournament.

No. 9 Western Washington's Vikings finished in seventh place with a 31-over par 871for the tournament. The only Viking to place in the top-30 was Xavier Dailly with a score of 218 (74- 73- 71) that was good for a tie at the 28th position.

Neither the Vikings nor Wildcats are scheduled to return to action until Mar. 22-23 in Notre Dame de Namur's Invitational tournament.

No. 25 Cal State-Stanislaus' Warriors finished in eighth as a team at the Coyote Classic. Brandon Taylor tied for ninth with a 212 (70- 72- 70) while his teammate Trevor Blair tied for 25th with a 216 (70- 76- 70). The Warriors will be back competing on March 8-9 at Hiddenbrook Golf Club.

The 24th ranked Abilene Christian Wildcats finished in 12th place with a team score of 888, placing only three players in the top-50. Cyril Bouniol led his with a 44th-place finish (78- 72- 72= 222), while twins Alex and Adam Carpenter, along with Kyle Dickerson carded 223's to tie for 48th. The Wildcats return to play on March 8-9 at the Red River Intercollegiate.

Barry will take a nearly two-week break from competition before it returns to action at the Southern Collegiate Tournament, hosted by No. 16 Valdosta State University at Kinderlou Forrest Golf Club in Valdosta, Ga. on Mar. 15.

Waiting for the Bucs will be, among others, No. 2 Georgia College and State University, No. 4 Nova Southeastern and No. 5 Lynn.

Last weekend, the second-ranked Bobcats snatched up a fourth-place finish out of 18 teams with a total score of 290 at the Richard Rendleman Invitational, hosted by Catawaba College. GCSU finished seven strokes behind tournament champion and No. 8 Lander.

The Bobcats were led by Joe Young's 10th-place 71. Fransisco Bida and Billy Shida also finished in the top-25 for the tournament with a 72 and 73, respectively.

No. 4 Nova Southeastern hasn't been in action since mid-February's Matlock Invitational in Lakeland, Fla., where they finished sixth in a tournament won by No. 2 GCSU. The Sharks' Byron White fired a three-round total of 221 to finish 15th overall, while Bobby Bode and Ben Vertz rounded out the top-25 with scores of 223 and 224 respectively.

Fifth-ranked Lynn University faces much of the same circumstances that Nova Southeastern does. The Fighting Knights haven't competed since their eighth-place finish at the Matlock Invitational on Feb. 15-16. They won't return to the course in competition until Valdosta's Southeastern Collegiate Invitational as well. The Fighting Knights will attempt to ride the momentum of Steven Brame's tied for 18th place finish at Florida Southern's tournament. He led his fellow Fighting Knights with a 222 stroke total for the tournament, followed by David Rose's 21st-place 223.

Top-25 Review
When the most recent Golf World/NIKE Division II Poll came out, the Top-5 set the standard, eating up 17 of the possible 18 first-place votes, leaving only No. 12 Central Missouri as the other recipient of a first place vote.

Four teams, West Florida (14), Flagler (21), Wayne State (23) and Cal State- Stanislaus (25) jumped from the depths of the unranked to secure top-25 national rankings, taking the places of Belmont Abbey, Dixie State, Newberry and Bellarmine.