By Kevin Thompson
SYRACUSE — On Monday, Holcomb won the first-ever GWAC league title with a six-stroke win over Ulysses.
So it's easy to see why Ulysses coach Verl Seger was smiling Thursday as his Lady Tigers golfers exacted a measure of revenge by beating Holcomb, albeit by one stroke at the Syracuse Invitational.
Three Lady Tiger golfers shot under 100, led by sophomore Maggie Koops' 90, as they finished with a team score of 379, just one shot better than the Lady Longhorns, who were led by Sam Larrick's 88 and Amy Stegman's 90.
For Seger, the win was good, but the scores were a bit higher than he was hoping for.
"I was looking for more scores in the low 90's, upper 80's," he said, "especially with regionals coming up. But we did fine today."
Larrick shot the low round by one stroke on the front nine, firing a 6-over 42. A 46 around the tamarisk-lined course, including a penalty stroke on the par-5 seventh, cost the senior her second-ever tournament title. But overall, she said she was pleased with her round.
Larrick made par at the par-3 finishing hole to secure second place. Her tee shot was barely over the green, but her pitch shot rode a ridge, curved and dipped to within a foot of the cup, and the par was hers.
"We've been working a lot on that shot in practice lately," she explained.
Now, Larrick said, she and her teammates have their sights set on regionals Monday at Louck's Municipal Golf Course in Lakin, and she likes their chances of winning and challenging at state.
Stegman had won the league title with an 84, 10 better than teammate Larrick's 94, who finished third. Last Saturday, Larrick defeated Stegman on a playoff hole at the Lakin Invitational.
The seniors will be a key to leading Holcomb into the regional meet, but Larrick said her younger teammates have been stepping up, helping out, and taking pressure off the seniors.
"We're peaking at the right time," Larrick said. "We're really wanting to go to state and get first."
Holcomb coach Scott Stegman is eager for the upcoming meets too, though his approach is bit more guarded.
"If we keep playing well and throw a 380 or 370 in there at regionals, we can make it back to state. And at state, anything can happen. But we have to get there. We have to play well Monday to get there," he said.
For Seger, his team is riding a wave of success at the right time as it heads to its Class 4A regional tournament in Russell on Monday.
"The team's really pulled together well this year. Hopefully we can do that for regionals," he said of his three seniors and three sophomores.
Syracuse coach Rick Mathias was very pleased with his team's performance.
"The things we've been working on the past couple weeks to get ready for that tight course (in Lakin) - finally some of the girls started believing in what they were doing and we saw some results today," he said.
The Lady Bulldogs scored three in the 90's, which bodes well for regionals.
"We first wanted to defend our home course well," he said. "We shot some excellent scores today."
Mathias' girls will play the Lakin course this weekend to prepare for Monday.
"The biggest thing is working short game on those greens," he noted. "Keep the ball in play, work the short game and see what happens."
With no seniors on his varsity, Mathias' team has had to work hard this season.
"They've worked hard and we're starting to see the results," he said.
Lakin coach Travis McAtee was pleased with his team's effort. Though they shot a 451, it was 35 strokes better than any of their other team scores this season, which gives his girls some confidence going into regionals.
As tournament host, McAtee said the course will remain unchanged, for the most part, which means it will challenge the field with narrow fairways and small, sloping greens.
"We hope the wind stays down and makes it a good day for the girls to enjoy the day, play their best, and let the chips fall where they may," he said.