By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

When Kamie Rash walked off the 18th green at Emporia Municipal Golf Course in October of 2008 as the Kansas Class 3-2-1A girls state tournament runner-up she had one goal in mind. Get back to the same place a year later and this time win. The Syracuse senior accomplished her goal in mid-October when she captured the state title at Lake Barton Golf Club near Great Bend by an eight-stroke margin, thus securing her season-long dream. For her effort, Rash was named The Telegram's co-Athlete of the Year for Fall Sports of the 2009 season. While winning this year's state tournament was accomplished, the road to get there wasn't exactly the one she had mapped out in 2008. One of the top all-around athletes in southwest Kansas, Rash suffered a season-ending knee injury in early February of this year when she tore all three ligaments in her left knee. Sidelined and forced to miss the 2009 track season where she had placed in three individual events at the state 2A track meet as a sophomore, Rash went to work on the only thing she had control over - her rehabilitation of the knee. "I don't want to say that it was the best way to improve my game," Rash said of the injury that limited her activity throughout the summer, "but it did allow me to work on only my short game only through the summer." Thus restricted from hitting full golf shots or doing any other sports, Rash went to the golf course nearly every day in the summer and simply worked on her putting, chipping and other short game shots. "The short game is a major component of the game and you can win with a good short game, but you can lose if you don't have one," Rash said. "I just learned to work harder to get where I wanted to be." She would miss the first two tournaments of the Lady Bulldogs' season before getting her doctor's release by mid-September. Her first tournament, at Goodland, saw her shoot an 83 and earn medalist honors. "I was pretty nervous to start with and pretty sure I made a double bogey," Rash said when recalling her first hole of the season. "After that I just settled down and played." That propelled her to a season in which she won seven of the eight tournaments in which she played. She never lost to a golfer from a Class 4-3-2-1A school. Her only non-winning event came at the Garden City Invitational at Buffalo Dunes where she was paired with GCHS standout Mackenzie Thayer and the top players from Dodge City and Hays. A quadruple bogey nine on her first hole sent her to a season-high 87 and a fourth place finish.

It would be the last time she would go home without a gold medal. Her low 18-hole round of the year came at the state tourney where she shot an 81. Her season average was 83.7. "I like to compete and I picked up golf for the competitive part of it," Rash said. "I want to win, that's my personality, but golf fits the competitive aspect for me rather than the love of the game." When Rash went down with the knee injury, she was averaging over 17 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds a game for the Lady Bulldogs from her point guard position. Her track exploits come in the long and triple jumps, the 100-meter dash and relay team. "If I had to choose, I'd go basketball and then track and then golf," said Rash of her sports priorities. "Basketball is the sport I love the most." Only time will tell where this multi-talented athlete will find a college home, but rest assured coaches from a variety of sports will be looking at Rash to bring her talent to the next level.