She’s More Than Par Against the Boys0
By Chuck Slater
A decade ago, for only the second time ever, a girl — yes, a girl — won the boys Section 1 golf tournament—Marissa Kamelgarn of Mahopac.
It could happen again this season, in the person of John Jay Cross River junior Kyra Cox. “It’s definitely high on my goals for this year,” said the Indians’ clear Number 1 for a second straight season. “And then to go up to States and do well, too.”
Last season, Cox finished 16th overall in the sectional tournament. Already successful in girls’ events, she has since grown — in stature, too and is now 5-feet, 6 ½-inches — to national-level success. Her father Keith Cox, a good and avid golfer, took his daughter to a charity event with him when she was seven. If it wasn’t love at first sight, it was close. She asked — nay, demanded — to play this stick-and-ball sport. “By the time she was nine,” Keith Cox said proudly, “she was beating me.”
Before she was 15, she had won the New York State PGA Junior Championship and has been scoring big in big events ever since. Late last summer against the best girls her age throughout the nation, the AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) championship, she finished 9th on rounds of 70, 73 and 73 and before starting her junior high school season, had a scholarship to Furman University in her golf bag. And she’s hoping to get even better. “I’m working on a new swing and a new grip with new clubs,” she said. “I took a little break after getting the Furman scholarship.”
This season, the John Jay golfers have a new coach, Artie Blank, replacing Ray DiStephan. Not many golf coaches inherit such a strong team, and none with a girl as the ace of a boys’ squad. “I’ve got really good kids and a pretty solid team,” Blank said. “Kyra? She’s a great kid and, yes, our Number 1. She’s very strong, hard working, consistent and helpful with her teammates.”
Number 2 for a second year on a just-started 15-match season is senior Nils Carlson. “He’s very consistent, too,” Blank offered.
Number 3 is senior Greg Hoffman, one of five returnees Blank inherited. Senior Kyle Campbell and junior Marc Skriloff are the others, and there are four imposing newcomers in junior Jacob Gonzalez and freshmen Chris Walsh, Jason Sans and younger brother Robert Skriloff. “They seem unflappable,” the new coach said.
And the girl among them seems the one to watch at tournament time.