By BRETT MARSHALL
When the 2010 high school girls golf season came to a close, Sublette's Katelyn Marlin finished fourth individually at the Class 3-2-1A state tournament and the Lady Bulldogs of Syracuse placed fourth in the team standings behind state champion Holcomb.
On Monday, Marlin, a senior, and a solid nucleus of returners for Syracuse coach Rick Mathias, served notice that they intend to contend for top honors throughout the 2011 season.
Marlin shot a 6-over-par 42 to capture medalist honors at the Sublette Invitational, which was played at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course.
Syracuse earned the team title with a score of 200, five shots clear of runner-up Larned. It was another 20 shots back to third-place Holcomb (225).
For Marlin, a multi-sport athlete at Sublette, the victory was a positive way to begin her final year of high school competition.
"It feels good, it's the best score I've shot and it was fun," said Marlin, who also plays volleyball, basketball, softball and runs track for the Lady Larks. "Other than the heat (mid 90s and higher humidity), it was just good to play. My putting was on; I had a couple of one-putts and hit my drives far and straight."
Marlin's round began with a double bogey on the par-5 first hole but she responded by knocking in a 30-foot birdie putt from the fringe of the second green.
"I've been working on my putting a lot and that's the main reason my score is lower," Marlin said.
She would add one more par, on the par-5 fifth, and then had bogeys on the fourth, and sixth through ninth holes.
"I'm excited now that I'm playing and it makes me more excited for the next tournament (Thursday at Hugoton)," Marlin said. "Making birdie on the second hole and following with the par on No. 3 really got the momentum going."
Syracuse got top 10 performances from three of its players, paced by junior Stephanie Geven's runner-up finish with a 46. Her teammate Alia Neubrandt was fourth with a 48, Madison Brown was sixth with a 50, and Kiah Rash rounded out the counting scores with a 56.
"I played a little bit in the summer, and playing our course at home (Tamarisk Golf Course) where the fairways are narrow really helped me to hit the ball straight," Geven said. "I was just able to hit the ball in the fairway and then I hit my fairway woods better."
Geven said that she and her teammates still have room for improvement.
"I've been working on my short game and that's an area that really could improve," said Geven. "We have higher expectations I think you could say of how we should do."
For Mathias, the start to the season was not a complete surprise.
"I'm more surprised by the scores than I am that we did well," Mathias said. "That's been our goal since we started practice to set a standard for ourselves and not for how others do. They did a good job. I saw a lot of good things, but as it is with this game, there's always shots left out on the course. So we can get better."
Mathias said that Geven had worked hard on her game and the improvement showed with her best tournament score.
"She's such a hard worker and she just expects good things to happen," Mathias said. "Alia doubles in cross country and she's just really improved. She held it together and I think coming in, we felt good about their chances."
Mathias said after last year's performance at the state tournament, expectations simply changed.
"Last year, we had no expectations," he said. "This year, the thought process is different. We've had high-spirited practices, intense and we push them hard. They could handle this type of day so we'll be interested to see how they do when they play 18 holes."
See results in Scoreboard, Page B2.