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Kelly Hill | | May 19, 2014

Hill: Hoping for deja vu

  Barry enters the tournament as the defending national champion and No. 1-ranked team in the nation.

ALLENDALE, Mich. -- Jimmy Stobs has extremely fond memories of The Meadows at Grand Valley State. Those memories, however, are not likely to repeat themselves.

Stobs, who coaches Barry, led the Buccaneers to their first NCAA II national championship in 2007, at The Meadows, which is scheduled to host the 2014 championships Monday through Friday. Barry enters the tournament as the defending national champion and No. 1-ranked NCAA Division II team in the nation, so Stobs and the Bucs have to be the favorite to create memories of another national title, but the conditions in which Stobs' team won its first crown are not likely to be repeated.

“They were having a heat wave in '07, it was 90 degrees up there,” Stobs said from his Miami Shores office earlier this week. “It was hot, but I remember the rough still being very high.” The rough is likely to be higher than the temperatures for this year's championships. “It is going to be different this year, we know that,” Stobs said.

A winter in which West Michigan received record snowfalls has been followed by a rainy spring with temperatures far below normal. Barry senior Jared Dalga, who grew up in West Michigan, has warned Stobs and his teammates of what they might expect at The Meadows this week.

“The guys are anxious to get playing,” Stobs said. “We're No. 1 based on what we've done so far this year. This is nice, because it means we're doing something right, but when you really want to be No. 1 is after nationals. It's all about being No. 1 after the last tournament of the year and this is the one we want to win. Everyone is anxious to get up there and get playing.”

Dalga is one of three Buccaneers back from last year's national championship team. He is joined by fellow senior Scott Smyers of Lakeland, Florida, and sophomore Adam Svensson of Surrey Vancouver, British Columbia. They are joined on the Barry roster by junior Berry Jole of the Netherlands and freshman Mario Beltran from Spain.

“One thing we try to do is keep it simple,” Stobs said. “We keep the ball in play and hit it on the green. At least make par, even better make birdie. We take pride in our short games. They're good around the greens.”

While Barry is making its sixth consecutive national championship appearance, and eighth overall, one of the other 19 teams joining them in the championships at The Meadows is making its school's first NCAA II Championships appearance. Former NAIA member Malone of Canton, Ohio, won the Midwest/Central Super Regional in just its first full season of eligibility as an NCAA II institution.

“We're excited,” Pioneers coach Ken Hyland said. Malone has won seven of the tournaments it entered this season, finished second twice and had one third-place finish.

“We're having a better year than the weather is,” Hyland said. “We have heard good things about the golf course at The Meadows and we have high expectations.”

The Pioneers' lineup features seniors Jon Clark, Jay Hollifield, Tyler Light and Nathan Tarter, as well as junior Garrison Myles. “We are going to need some breaks, but the elements could be a key factor,” Hyland said. “We play well in the rain too, but we just try to go out and play a golf course the way it is set up. Whatever a golf course gives us is what we'll take. We're excited.”

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