By KEVIN THOMPSON
LAKIN — Maggie Koops of Ulysses blitzed the field but Syracuse narrowly defeated the Lady Tigers to highlight Saturday's Lakin Invitational girls golf event. The senior Koops, playing the Lakin course for the first time, shot a bogey-round on the front nine (45) then shot even par (36) the second time around the 9-hole course to claim a 12-stroke win over teammate Kelsey Kreutzer and Syracuse's Kiah Rash. Apparently, the first time around was just for practice. Koop, who won her home meet last week with a 78, said her 81 was the result of being a quick study. "I've walked the course about six times watching my sisters over the years but never played it," Koops said. "The first round was a learning experience. The second round, I just kind of settled down and played." The course was short and played easy under near-perfect weather, Koop said, and the greens quickened, and that led to her win. Koop started her back nine bogey-bogey, but picked up birdies on the seventh and ninth holes, and parred the rest. The 45 didn't really upset her, she said, especially for her first time. She knew she wasn't too far out of the lead at the turn (two strokes behind Rash), so she felt confident in her ability to catch up. Rash took a 10 to open her back nine, and just like that, Koops had her lead and ran with it. She adjusted her club selection on some holes and left the driver in her bag to avoid the right rough, and her short game didn't let her down. This is Koop's third outright win this season, and she said she feels good heading toward the upcoming regional (Oct. 8 at Larned). Syracuse coach Rick Mathias was happy to get the win but not content with the way his girls finished their rounds. The Lady Bulldogs beat out Ulysses 401-409, but he figured they would have a lower score. After a good front nine, Mathias figured his team would continue its good play, but they didn't. "We're still struggling with that. My top two finished between them 15 shots higher on the back side. That's not what you're looking for," Mathias said of his team which hopes to defend its 2011 Class 3-2-1A state title. Putting the finishing touches on a round, he added, is what they need to do, but it's not happening right now. Syracuse will host a regional-quality meet Thursday, and Mathias is confident his team will be on track.
Rash, Stephanie Geven and Brown were all members of the 2011 Lady Bulldogs state championship team.
Host coach Travis McAtee's Lady Broncs finished one stroke behind Holcomb (423-424) for third, but he was still pleased with their effort. "That's our best 18-hole team score, by far. It's unfortunate to not get that medal for third place, but I'm really happy with our effort," McAtee said. With his team's improvement heading in the right direction, McAtee said he feels good about his team's chances at the upcoming Class 3-2-1A regional in Cimarron. "If we continue to go the direction we're going and play the way we're capable of, we'll have a good shot," he said.
Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.