Jackson shines in No. 1 spot
If male golfers around the area are worried about losing to a girl, they'd better get used to it - Lansing High sophomore Maria Jackson isn't going anywhere.
After an up-and-down freshman season where she usually was seeded as the No. 2 or No. 3 player for LHS, Jackson opened the season Saturday as Lansing's No. 1 golfer at the Sunflower Hills High School Invitational in Bonner Springs. She backed up the ranking by placing second in the tournament with an 18-hole score of 86, just four shots behind tournament winner Cody Sims of Tonganoxie.
Jackson played alongside Sims during the tournament, and she said Sims joked about feeling pressure from Jackson throughout the day.
"When he saw some of my shots, he said, 'Gosh, I think you're intimidating me,'" Jackson said with a laugh. "I've found that some of the guys I play with do really bad.
"I know guys don't like to get beat by a girl. I know it's a terrible feeling."
It's a feeling Jackson hopes her male counterparts will relive numerous times during the rest of her prep career. LHS coach Bill Pekarek said he hopes that's the case.
Jackson oftentimes was Lansing's best practice player last year, but she struggled to deliver in tournaments. That doesn't appear to be the case this season.
"I think she's coming along like we'd hoped she would," he said.
Jackson said the biggest change for her from last year to this year was her mental approach. Her father, George Jackson Jr., has been her coach since she first began playing golf 15 years ago. He observed last year that his daughter became frustrated easily during tournaments, so he worked with her during the summer to correct that problem.
"Over the summer I worked on my mind because my dad said it's basically all in my head," she said. "I just worked on my mind, so now when I hit a shot I'm a lot more confident."
Although Jackson is a more confident player this season, she continues to be her harshest critic. At Sunflower, she pointed out there were a few short putts that she missed. On Monday at Gardner, Pekarek said Jackson told him she struggled with her putting and chipping. Still, her round of 88 tied for the best on the team.
"I guess since I'm (listed as) our No. 1 player now, there's kind of pressure there," Jackson said. "I'm supposed to lead the team, but I'm only a sophomore."
Jackson and the Lions next play at 3 p.m. Monday in the Lansing Invitational at Leavenworth Country Club. Among the teams at the tournament will be Mill Valley, Basehor, Bonner Springs, Piper and Tonganoxie.