By BRETT MARSHALL
Winning one state championship is difficult enough.
To repeat as a state team champion is even more of a challenge.
But that's what the Syracuse Lady Bulldogs golf team accomplished on Monday at Cherry Oaks Golf Course in Cheney, at the Class 3-2-1A state championships.
With junior Kiah Rash finishing second individually, and sophomore Sydney Brown taking third after the two tied at 94, head coach Rick Mathias saw his team produce a score of 397 in defending their 2011 title won at Emporia's Municipal Golf Course.
"It was pretty darned cool to see the girls play the way they did and come away with the championship," Mathias said. "We were leading by two at the turn and then we just seemed to play better for the most part on the final nine."
Rash and Brown were sitting atop the leaderboard most of the day, until the final group came in and Council Grove's Taylor Alderman claimed the top spot with an 87.
Rash, the younger sister of 2009 state champion Kamie, who now competes for Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, had nines of 51 and 43.
"She was 11 over after four holes and then got going," Mathias said of Rash. "She's just kind of been that way most of the season."
Brown's consistent day was comprised of back-to-back 47s.
"She had been struggling with her swing, but we finally got her to do a couple of things and she started hitting the ball great," Mathias said of Brown.
Stephanie Geven, the Bulldogs' lone senior, had a 97 after opening with a 43 before struggling to a 54 on the back nine. Shannan Lemons followed with a 112, while Laura Geven and Alice Englert finished with 125 and 130, respectively.
Cheney and Russell tied for second at 411 in the team standings, with Cheney claiming the runner-up spot by using the team's fifth score as the tiebreaker. Silver Lake at 417 and Caney Valley at 418 rounded out the top five. Holcomb was seventh at 428 and Lakin eighth at 441.
Lakin's Makayla Hendrix and Holcomb's Olivia Ortega tied for 15th with 102s, while Kenzie Becker and Erika Robinson of Holcomb tied for 20th at 107.
Other Lady Longhorns scores were Kenzie Roth at 112 and Taylor Becker with a 149.
Lakin's remaining scores were Jenna Garcia with a 109, Hannah Randolph with a 113, Emily Eggleston at 117, Ieshi Jury at 120 and Aubrey Anson with a 143.
Cimarron's Jessica Ast finished with a 108 and Taylor Moyer with a 125, as the two competed as individuals for the Lady Bluejays in their first season of having girls golf.
See results in Scoreboard, Page B2.