Kaylee Samway capped a brilliant prep career when she won the individual title at the Class B State Championships at Mahoney Golf Course in Lincoln. Samway topped the field in the two-day, 36-hole event to help pace the Bison girls to a runner-up finish in the final Class B state meet team standings.
Samway grabbed the first-day lead with a five-over par 77 on the Mahoney course. She was two strokes ahead of defending Class B state champ Ann Pearson of Elkhorn South and Nicolle Barmettler of Elkhorn South, and five strokes ahead of standout Kaitlyn Krzyzanowski of Gering.
"I was pretty excited," Kaylee said after going to sleep Oct. 8 with the first-day lead. "But then again, I didn't want to be that person that started in first place and ended up 15th."
No worries about that -- at least maybe after a couple shots to start her final round.
On the second day, Samway blazed the Lincoln course, shooting a one-under 71 to blow away the field. Her 36-hole total of 148 strokes was nine strokes ahead of Barmettler and 12 strokes better than Pearson. Krzyzanowski finished with a 162.
"I definitely didn't see that one coming (the round of 71) after the first hole when I duffed it off the tee box," Kaylee said.
Samway was tough down the stretch in her final round at state. She came home with a two-under 34, including five birdies on the final nine holes.
"I caught on fire on the back," she said.
SAMWAY'S success at state wasn't a surprise. She had shot solid scores all season, and in most of the Bison meets this fall Kaylee and junior teammate Megan Vetrovsky were finishing first and second, seemingly trading spots every week. Samway has three state meet medals in her prep career, including a fourth-place finish her sophomore year and sixth place at the 2011 Class B state meet.
"I always knew I could do it if I shot well, because I have shot low 70s before, and I've shot par before, and even at that course (Mahoney)," Kaylee said. "That gave me some confidence.
"I knew that if I worked hard enough I could accomplish it."
Samway said she is pretty proud of winning the state title, and happy with her high school golf career.
"I'm pretty satisfied with how I did," she said.
ALTHOUGH the McCook girls couldn't win a team title during Samway's career, the Bison girls came pretty close. McCook was third in the final Class B state meet team standings in her sophomore year, then runner-up behind Elkhorn South the past two years.
"It definitely was a big accomplishment," Samway said of her team's second-place state meet finish this fall.
She noted that Megan Vetrovsky and Breanna "Breezy" Redl returned from last year's runner-up state squad. To have an official team score, high school golf teams must put at least four players on the course. Samway said the Bison players recruited former teammate Jacqui Hager to rejoin the team this year after Hager had sat out the 2011 season.
"It took some convincing to get here to come back out," Samway said. "She hadn't played since her sophomore year -- that was over a year that she had not touched a club."
Hager turned in key scores throughout the season to aid the McCook team's final totals.
Karlie Dueland also joined the Bison team this year in her first season playing golf.
"Karlie, I talked her into going out," Samway said. "She had played with her mom like once or twice before. She can really hit the ball well, she just struggles with her short game.
"She even out-drove me during a practice round."
Samway said having Vetrovsky on the team was a big plus for her game.
"I think we pushed each other to work a lot harder.," Kaylee said. "Our scores are so close. It could easily go either way."
Samway also said head coach Randy Ryser was also a great coach and a calming influence on the team.
Anyone who knows Ryser well is charmed by his wit and certainly has smiled a time or two from one of his one-liners.
"He has all kinds of sayings," Kaylee said. "If you blast it past the hole it's an 'El Kabonger.' He always has weird little witty sayings that he says all the time.
"He was a good coach, I'm going to miss him."
THE SAMWAY clan includes mom and day, Darrin and Angie, and Kaylee's little sitter Kasey. Kaylee said she started playing golf by accompanying her dad on rounds at the Heritage Hills course in McCook when she was younger.
Surprising, golf probably wasn't high on her list for the high school fall sports season. She said she played softball since the T-softball leagues when she was just a kid, and she played on the McCook Rebels teams throughout her summer days. She also played volleyball, and golf was a tough decision.
"All throughout junior high I figured I'd play softball," she said. "Up to three weeks before my freshman year, I was like, 'Oh hey, I guess I can go out for golf.'"
Playing daily on the tough Heritage Hills course has helped honed Samway's golf skills.
"It definitely gets you prepared to walk for awhile," she said. "Our course is the most difficult one to walk.
"The only thing that's different is when you're switching from a hilly course to a flat course. It makes (the greens) seem a lot closer. You have the yardage (markers) -- like this is 130 yards out. Well, it looks like it's 100 yards out."
Samway said the Mahoney course in Lincoln is relative flat, with a couple of dips.
"Its nothing close to Heritage Hills," she said.
IRONICALLY, Kaylee isn't the only member of her close family to win state gold. Her cousin, Tyler Lawson, claimed the 2003 Class B boys state golf championship. More ironically, Lawson also won his state title on the Mahoney course in Lincoln. Lawson and teammate Brandon Crick, who finished second, led the Bison boys to the 2003 Class B state team title.
The future hopefully holds more golf for Samway. Kaylee said she wants to compete in golf in college, where she will study radiology.
She has been contacted by several colleges.
"Too bad Hawaii isn't on my list," Kaylee said of the possibility of playing in a year-round warm climate.
THE IMMEDIATE future for Samway will switch to the tennis courts. Kaylee and Bison teammate Kassidy Gillen finished third in No. 1 doubles at the 2012 Class B state girls tennis meet. Samway plans to compete in tennis again next spring.
She was asked if she ever considered playing basketball for the Bison during her prep career?
"Too much running for me," she said, with a smile on her face.
GOLF IS A FAMILY affair for the Samways. Kaylee said there is a net set up in the basement for off-season practice, along with a miniature putting course.
Papa Darrin is a pretty solid golfer, and he poked his head in during an interview for this story and wanted the record to reflect that daughter has beaten him on the course just one time.
"When it mattered," Kaylee chimed in.
Dad said that match was at the end of last year, and Kaylee claimed a little cash wager on the round.
"She got me. She earned it. She took a lot of jawing," Darrin said. "I talked her out of beating me a lot of times. She doesn't listen now. I can't get into her head any more."