By BRETT MARSHALL
CIMARRON — Even though his Lady Bulldogs golf team had just won the Class 3-2-1A regional tournament on Monday at the Cimarron Golf Club, veteran Syracuse coach Rick Mathias knew that they'll have to step it up a notch or two at next Monday's state tournament at Cherry Oaks Golf Course in Cheney.
That's what life, and experience, tells a coach who will have his team defend its 2011 state championship.
On a wind-swept course and in a tournament delayed by 90 minutes due to frost on the layout, the Lady Bulldogs were good enough, finishing with a team total of 410 strokes.
Holcomb was a distant second with 444 and Lakin grabbed the third and final team qualifying spot with a 453.
"I'm proud of what the girls did today," Mathias said after the tournament had concluded. "The delay might have had some effect, but it was the same for everyone. They all had to deal with the same situation."
Kyla Bandel, a sophomore from St. Francis, captured medalist honors with a 91 while Syracuse's Stephanie Geven and Kiah Rash claimed the second and third spots with scores of 93 and 95. Jessica Ast, a junior competing for Cimarron's first-ever girls team, was fourth with a 106 and claimed one of the individual qualifying spots for the state tourney. Holcomb's Kenzie Becker rounded out the top five with a 107.
For Syracuse, in addition to Geven, the team's lone senior, and Rash, the younger sister of 2009 state 3-2-1A individual champion Kamie Rash (now at Kansas Wesleyan), sophomore Syndey Brown was next at 108, followed by Shannon Lemons at 114, Laura Geven at 120 and Alex Englert at 121.
Mathias said the fact that he has new players in Lemons, Laura Geven and Englert left him with a sense of uncertainty how this team would be ready for the state defense.
"I'm not sure this team has grasped that concept," Mathias said. "We've got all kinds of rookies and I'm just not sure how they're approaching going back to the state. We've not dwelled on it too much, because I told them they couldn't rest on the laurels of last year's team, so now they can focus on the state tournament."
The fact that he returns his No. 3 (Geven), No. 4 (Rash) and No. 6 (Brown) from last year, gives Mathias some sense that the team will be ready.
"They've got some state experience and it does help the girls," Mathias said. "I'm sure they'll talk with the other girls and the fact they've achieved at that level, I think the girls are looking forward to it."
Holcomb's runner-up squad also saw Olivia Ortega and Erika Robinson finish at 108 each, Kenzie Roth at 121 and Taylor Becker at 148. For Lakin's Lady Broncs, it was McKayla Hendrix leading the way with a 108 and she was followed closely by Emily Eggleston with a 109. Next was Jenna Garcia at 113, Hannah Randolph with a 123, Iesha Jury at 128 and Aubrey Anson with a 140.
Cimarron's Taylor Moyer, a senior, also garnered one of the individual qualifying spots by shooting a 118.
See results in Scoreboard, Page B2.