By BRETT MARSHALL
ULYSSES — It wasn't the typical 'homecoming' for Ulysses' Maggie Koops.
But don't tell the Lady Tiger senior that making your final curtain call at home can be anything but a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Koops made certain that her final high school tournament on her home Bentwood Golf Course was a memorable one.
Her 6-over-par 78 easily captured medalist honors Tuesday at the Ulysses Invitational and served to be a day Koops won't forget.
Playing with a little extra motivation, Koops had her most consistent round of her four-year career, carding nines of 39-39, making one birdie, just one double bogey and a bunch of pars en route to a dominating 14-stroke victory in the individual competition.
Syracuse's Kiah Rash was second with a 92 and Koops' teammate — Kelsey Kreutzer playing the sidekick this week after Koops finished second to her at the Holcomb Invitational on Thursday — was third with a 95.
In addition, the Lady Tigers won the team title with a 396 total, the first time they have cracked the 400-stroke barrier all season. That provided the team with an eight-shot victory over Syracuse, which finished at 404.
"I'm pretty excited," a smiling Koops said after her round. "It's a big adrenaline rush. I finally got my head in the game."
Koops, expected to be one of the top players in southwest Kansas her senior season, had struggled for much of the first half of the season.
"I just woke up in a great mood," Koops said. "It's my home course. I've played it well in the past (80 her junior year), so I had every reason to feel like I could play well today."
For Koops, the 78 was also a low competitive score and marked the first time she had broken 80.
"I was making putts today, my chipping was good and I used my 3-wood a lot to keep the ball in play," Koops said.
The senior said she came home from the Holcomb tournament at Buffalo Dunes motivated to improve and to see if she could finish ahead of her close friend and teammate, Kreutzer.
"You know, we're both competitive and I wanted to beat her," Koops said. "That's the competitive nature of the game. I had a lot of nice saving shots. It's a big confidence thing for me now."
First-year coach Nathan Novack said he was happy for Koops as well as his team.
"Maggie was pretty emotional coming home Thursday, and she came out and worked hard over the weekend," Novack said. "She made the right adjustments and made dramatic improvements. She looked at herself and did what she needed to do. Her course management is one of the best I've seen out here."
Novack said when his team arrived at the course early Tuesday, he could tell that Koops was ready to play.
"She was determined to do better," Novack said of Koops. "Then, she goes out and does it. It's a great day for her, and for our girls to get under 400 is a positive step forward."
Koops echoed her coach's sentiments on the team score.
"It's our first team win and that's good for us," Koops said. "It's uplifting. We've got some young girls and now we can talk about how we can do coming down the last part of the season. It's a lot of momentum. Getting under 400, that's what gets you placing at the bigger tournaments."
Holcomb's girls were seventh at 468 with Erika Robinson's 101 leading the way for the Lady Longhorns. Garden City's JV team competed with four golfers and shot a 486. Hannah Leiker's 110 was low for the Lady Buffs.
Next up on the area girls golf tournament schedule is Saturday's Lakin Invitational. Tee off is at 10 a.m. at Louck's Municipal Golf Course.
See results in Scoreboard, Page B2.