Final Point: This year, it’s a team effort for Bulldog golfers
     2012-10-01      By Terry Gaston   
When we raised the curtain on Final Point last year, our first featured subject was Gering golfer Kaitlyn Krzyzanowski.
For those who are new to Final Point or need a refresher, our pronunciation guide assists you with her Polish-rooted surname: sha-NOW-ski.

In the course of interviewing the then-junior — who eventually finished second in the Class B state tournament after having placed third as a sophomore at Scottsbluff High School and 15th as a freshman — we discovered that Krzyzanowski wanted to have her young Bulldog teammates along for the ride in her final two quests for state tournament qualification.

The Bulldogs finished a distant fourth as a team in the brutally rigid District B-4 Tournament last year. Krzyzanowski won eight top-medalist honors in 11 tournaments. She was second in the district tournament.

But on the heels of having won the Western Conference Championships at Sidney on Aug. 25, the Gering Invitational on Sept. 11 and the Ogallala Invitational on Sept. 17, those state tournament qualification hopes the Bulldogs had last year are more realistic for Gering this season.

But, as all coaches and players know — especially in golf, when course and weather conditions, along with many intangibles, can turn a leader board upside down — nothing is ever guaranteed.

Still, with an additional five second-place team finishes — including a tie for first with Sidney at the Sept. 4 Chadron Invitational, which the Red Raiders won the team medals on a tie break — the Bulldogs are making their mark and statement for earning one of the three state tournament team berths from Monday’s District B-4 Tournament at Holdrege Country Club.

Second-year coach Annie Boggs credits Krzyzanowski with not only wanting to improve her own game but her teammates’ efforts as well in being the major factor in the Bulldogs’ success this season.
“Kaitlyn has been a tremendous part of that,” Boggs said of Gering’s season-long improvements.

“She is a phenomenal leader, and someday, she will make a great teacher and coach if she chooses to go that route in her life. She is just always caring about other people and trying to teach them. At practice, it’s ideal that she is left-handed, so the other players can mirror her.

“She just helps as a strong junior (then) senior leader with experience. I wouldn’t say it’s just Kaitlyn, but she definitely plays a leadership role.”

Krzyzanowski said each team member has her moment in the sun this season, and that the other Bulldogs have grown as a group.

“A lot of them have had their really surprising moments and everybody’s improved,” the senior leader said. “It’s hard to specifically pick out one person when I know they are all working so hard.”

“And that’s the difference. Last year they would have been excited to get those kind of scores, and this year they are not satisfied. And that’s good, it pushes them.”

The most objective way to analyze the Bulldogs’ successes this season is by going to the scorecards.

Krzyzanowski — with six medalist championships, including the past three straight heading into the Best in the West Tournament at Monument Shadows Golf Course on Wednesday — leads Gering with an eight-tournament average of 79.375.

Sophomore Sam Rahmig, whose 92.25 is the team’s second-best average, had a season-best 85 in placing fifth on Saturday in Alliance. Her highest score of 100 came, perhaps surprisingly to some, during the Gering Invitational.

No home-course advantage for Rahmig that day, but sophomore Ashlynn Schultz (90), and juniors Kendall Bayne (94) and Amber Fertig (95) rose to the occasion in giving the Bulldogs their own tournament’s team championship.

Fertig has Gering’s third-lowest scoring average at 94, which has included a low of 88 at Ogallala and a high of 100 at Scottsbluff on Sept. 15.

With Krzyzanowski winning on Saturday in Alliance and Rahmig taking fifth, Gering had three top-10 finishers when Bayne took eighth with her 87. With that season-low score, Bayne lowered her fourth-leading average to 96.

Schultz, still looking for her first sub-90 score of the season, has a fifth-leading average of 100.75. The 90 she carded in the Gering tourney earned her the seventh-place medal.

Sophomore Jasie Beam played on the Gering junior varsity team Saturday at Alliance, and she carded her best count of the season at 92 in winning the JV individual medal. Beam has improved immensely since her season-opening 112 at Sidney, carrying a 102.5 averaged into Best in the West — in which all six Gering players qualified.
One factor has been the Bulldogs’ enigma, Boggs said: consistency. And by seeing the gaps in some players’ low and high scores, the inconsistency in placement can be easily seen.

For example, Krzyzanowski has shot as low as 73 — a par score in winning at Ogallala — to 89 at Chadron, a 16-shot difference.
Despite Krzyzanowski’s season-high score, she placed fifth, eight strokes off the winning 81 of Chadron senior Kelli Haynes. The Bulldogs also had Fertig place ninth and Bayne 10th after both shot 92, marking the first time in who knows how long that Gering had three golfers make a tournament’s top 10.

The best analysis of the team’s scores is that no player has shot 100 or higher in the past two tournaments.

“We just have to keep working all the time,” Boggs said. “We’re inconsistent in our play from two through six, so we’re just waiting to see who continues to improve coming toward the end of the season.”
Monday’s district results will qualify the top three teams and best 10 individuals for the Oct. 8-9 Class B state tourney in Lincoln.
When the season is over and however it ends, Krzyzanowski will have left a legacy in Gering golf — the biggest, in that all other team members will still be around in 2013.

“We have a really strong group of sophomores who have really high expectations on themselves,” Boggs said. “They’re successful in everything that they do also.

“And our juniors are solid too in Kendall and Amber, so this year we are fortunate in that we are six deep.

“It’s tough in the fact that we can take only five to districts, but we are six deep so they are always competing for that fifth spot, which is fun. From a coaching perspective, that’s a good problem to have.”

How much credit does Boggs think she has contributed to the Bulldogs’ success this season?

“About all I can take credit for is just forcing them to come to practice every night,” she said. “They all work hard and they have high expectations of themselves.”

When all is said and done, Krzyzanowski has the best philosophy on the difference between winning and losing: “Just trying to have fun.”

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