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Jason Kolbas’ genetic makeup is a classic example of an apple that didn’t fall far from the tree.

His mother – and high school coach – Stephanie Kolbas began to make a name for herself early in life on courses in Canada where she grew up. Nearly 1,000 miles away, she caught the attention of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she eventually enrolled and earned a scholarship to play for the Huskers.

The rest is history. About a quarter-century later, Kolbas has, among other things, racked up a record-setting 18 titles in the annual Lincoln City Women’s Tournament and three state championships.

It’s not surprising that her son – now a 16-year-old sophomore playing for Lincoln Pius X High School – exhibits those same traits, earning descriptions such as “hard-working” and “calm demeanor” from his mom.

“Jason always gives his best,” Kolbas says in characterizing her son’s approach. “He’s a very hard-working student-athlete who always wants to improve. He loves competition and strives to be the best that he can be.”

Tied for 2nd in state

A complete player who excels off the tee and with his short iron game, the promising underclassman exhibits a maturity level that belies his age. Qualifying for the Class A state high school meet as a freshman last spring, the young upstart turned some heads with a blistering 35-33-68 to win district meet honors in Fremont. The three-under-par score was the lowest competitive round of his freshman year.

Advancing to the state high school meet, Kolbas battled more than a formidable field of golfers. A high fever and a bout of the flu compounded the high school freshman’s challenge, but the fierce competitor didn’t want to let anyone down – his team, his coach, or himself, for that matter.

With his determination overcoming his physical condition, the competitive contender stayed within striking distance and managed to persevere. He fired a 74-73-147 at Norfolk to tie Joshua Peters of Millard North for second place, eight shots off the pace set by overall state champion and Nebraska golf recruit Luke Kluver, who fashioned a 68-71-139 on his home course to help Norfolk win the state team title.

Challengers loom

Both the defending champion and the other co-runner-up are back for their senior year of high school competition this spring. Kolbas hopes to once again be a factor in the race for state individual honors. He is coming off a glittering freshman season that included three tournament championships and medalist honors at dual and triangular meets.

The Pius X team leader enters his sophomore season of high school golf with a “tournament-by-tournament” approach – and an aim to shave a few strokes on the putting green.

“My approach is to stay focused on every shot and to improve my putting consistency,” said the up-and-coming sophomore, whose personal-best 18 holes is a 67 carded two years ago at a U.S. Kids Golf event at Highlands Golf Course. His achievements last year also included qualifying for the Junior World Championships at Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Stephanie Kolbas hopes her son’s short iron play, approach shots, calm demeanor and maturity will translate into continued improvement and consistent performances.

“He thrives on great competition,” his mother observed. “I’m proud to be his coach on his journey to continually improve and reach his goals.”

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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