By BRETT MARSHALL
Both Kelsey Kreutzer of Ulysses and Stephanie Geven of Syracuse are all so familiar with the challenges that await a golfer at Buffalo Dunes.
And perhaps it was that familiarity that played a big role in their success on Thursday as Kreutzer and Geven, both seniors for their respective teams, placed first and tied for second, with scores of 42 and 44 in the nine-hole tournament.
Neither player could lead their respective schools to the team title as Goodland nailed that down in a close race, finishing with a score of 194, while Ulysses was second at 197 and Syracuse a close third at 199.
"Buffalo Dunes is a challenging course, but I grew up playing a lot of golf at Southwind and here," said Kreutzer, whose grandparents live in Garden City. "I spent some summers playing junior golf up here and I like the course. The fairways are wide for me and it has challenging greens."
Both girls and their teams had competed 10 days earlier in the 18-hole Garden City Invitational at the Dunes. Kreutzer had shot an 86 for the tourney while Geven finished with a 94. Both were happy with their improvement for the 9-hole event Thursday.
"My long game is usually my best part," said a smiling Kreutzer. "My short game is usually iffy and very challenging for me."
Kreutzer's round was steady, getting pars on the first, second, fourth and seventh holes. The had bogeys on the fifth, sixth, eighth and nine holes while suffering a lone double bogey on the par-4 third.
"I spent a lot of the summer working on my short game, putting in more effort since it's my senior year," Kreutzer said. "I'd like to be scoring in the low 80s and place at state this year because I blew up at state last year. It would be really nice to be in the top 20 and medal at state and see my name up on the scoreboard. It's my senior year and I want to have a good season."
Kreutzer's senior sidekick teammate, Maggie Koops, finished fifth with a 46 to help the Lady Tigers to their runner-up finish.
"Definitely my goal is to be able to compete with Maggie," Kreutzer said. "I'm actually surprised how I'm playing. It's definitely better. I always do better when I'm happy because when I'm stressed, my scores go up."
Like Kreutzer, Syracuse's Geven is familiar with Buffalo Dunes, having played it multiple times during her high school career.
On Thursday, it was a slow start and a solid finish that allowed Geven to finish tied for second with Courtney Cowan of Goodland.
"The first few holes were not very good," said Geven, who played on last year's Class 3-2-1A girls state championship team. "As the day went on, it got better. I really tried my best."
Geven's slow start saw her bogey the first two holes, double bogey her third and fourth holes before recording bogeys on the fifth and sixth holes. She then parred the seventh hole and knocked in a 10-foot birdie putt on the eighth hole after hitting a 5-iron on the par-3 hole.
"That was real exciting," Geven said. "The greens were challenging today and were a little bumpy so you just try to go back to what you learn in practice."
She bogeyed the ninth hole to close out her round and felt like she still had room to improve.
"It just makes you want to work harder and keep getting better like the coaches tell us," Geven said. "It's a lot of pressure having won the state last year. We'd like to have a chance again, but we have to just keep getting better each day and each tournament."
Most of the teams that competed Thursday will travel to Ulysses on Tuesday for the Lady Tigers Invitational at Bentwood Golf Course. The 18-hole event will begin at 10 a.m.
See results in Scoreboard, Page B2.