Kupcho's top 25 leads Bears at Talking Stick North Course
By SCOTT WARD
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Steven Kupcho continued his strong freshman season Tuesday at Talking Stick Golf Club's North Course and shot a 1-over-par 71 and finished tied for 24th at the 2012 Wyoming Cowboy Classic.
Kupcho birdied his last two holes and, along with sophomore Ben Krueger, who led Northern Colorado with an even-par 70 Tuesday, helped the Bears to a 9-over 289 team score in the Classic's final round, which gave them 856 strokes over the event's 54 holes (+16) and a 17th-place finish in the 23-team field.
The Bears got off to a sluggish start Tuesday but finished strong and rediscovered the strong play they had during the first round, when they were tied for fifth with a 5-under 275.
"We got off to a pretty rough start today," Scheinost said, "but the guys battled back the last few holes to shoot something respectable. We were definitely worn down by the heat out here. This is the first time we've played in a heat in a while, and it definitely took a toll on us. But I'm proud of the guys for battling.
"We know we could have done better, but we were right there with some teams and we beat a couple good teams as well. We're going to be fine moving forward."
Junior Kevin Collignon tied for 62nd after finishing with a 2-over 74 and 216 strokes for the Classic. Freshmen Steve Connel (219, T-83) and Charlie Mroz (221, T-92) rounded out Northern Colorado's effort.
"Steve Connel had an up-and-down round today, to say the least," Scheinost said. "He had two eagles and a birdie but still finished 4-over. Once he finds his consistency, he's going to be a great player for us.
"Ben [Krueger] started slow but came back and a shot a 31 on the back side, with two putts that lipped out. That could have been a 29, which is outstanding. He shot even par to lead us, and it's good to see him get on track and gain a little confidence."
Kansas State finished as the event's big winner, claiming the team and individual titles. The Big 12 Wildcats shot a 14-under 826 through the 54 holes to finish atop the team leaderboard , and Ben Juffer was the event medalist via scorecard playoff.
Juffer and Colorado State's Mike Wuertz each carded 12-under 198s over two days, but Juffer's final-round 67 (-3) bettered Wuertz's even-par 70, giving Juffer the title.
Colorado finished 12 under, at 828, and in second place, and San Diego (829, -11) came in third. Texas Tech (833, -7) and Colorado State (834, -6) rounded out the top five.
Wichita State's Rafael Becker followed Juffer and Wuertz at 201 (-9), and Kansas' Chris Gilbert and Nevada's Kevin Lucas (202, -8) finished tied for fourth.
"We're going to take a couple days off," Scheinost said. "We'll let the guys recover a little bit, take care of their academics, and then we'll get ready for our final prep in California (Winchester Intercollegiate, April 20-22).
"We can definitely take some positive signs out of this, especially from that first round, and go forward from there. The guys are still growing and maturing, and hopefully that will all pay dividends here in a couple weeks in Connecticut (at the 2012 America Sky Men's Golf Conference Championship."