Back to State: Keratsopoulos strives to be the best

It was known at a young age that Nikolas Keratsopoulos had a special talent.  13 years ago - when Keratsopoulos was just four years old - he was first introduced to the game of golf while out at the Cameron Country Club with Uncle Gary.  

Uncle Gary noticed something special about the youngsters swing, and well, he was absolutely spot on. 

Keratsopoulos, who is now a junior with the Yoemen, will be making his third consecutive appearance at the state golf tournament from Grey Rock Golf Course in Austin on Monday and Tuesday.  

As a freshman, Keratsopoulos came onto the scene in a big way.  Most first-timers would be glad to just make an appearance at the state level, but this one competed and competed at a high level, ending tied for second before settling for the bronze medal after a two-hole playoff.  

He was back at state his sophomore season along with his teammates after a second-place finish in the region.  It was obvious that Keratsopoulos was not at his best this go-around, fighting off food poisoning while still managing to finish in 15th place overall.  

It’s all about getting back on top in 2018. 

“Considering I finished tied for second my freshman year and then I was fighting illness last year and finished 15th, I kind of want to get back in the medal area,” he said.  “I really want to win and I think I have a great chance.  I just have to put two good days together.”

The Yoemen had to face adversity in the regional round this season.  After one round of play, the team was out of the state picture, sitting in sixth, three spots way from a state bid.  But, a Yoemen’s effort came through in round two, as Luke Greene, Stockton Kruse, Kobe Young, Jale Walzel along Keratsopoulos responded, shooting a day-two total of 339 to leapfrog three teams and earn a second straight team berth.  

“It is just the winning spirit that we’ve had all year,” he said on the effort.  “The second tournament of the year we shot 329, so we knew it could be done.  We woke up that morning, ate breakfast and went out there and played our best.  Luke had his personal best of the year.  We wanted to go to state and played hard enough to get there.”

Keratsopoulos has been the anchor for Cameron’s team all season long.  He consistently shoots in the 70s and is the 20-3A district champion. 

“He has given us a low round every time out,” said Pete Magre, his coach.  “Sometimes he is disappointed in what he does, but he gives us lows rounds every time he goes out.  We are going to have to have three good rounds behind him, but we can always count on him to shoot anywhere in the mid to high 70s.  That is a stable rock to build off of.”

The junior said he puts in quite a bit of time with his game, traveling up to Wildflower in Temple on the weekend, and occasionally throughout the week with his cousin Nathan.  

“We go out and practice a lot at Wildflower and just try to get better,” Keratsopoulos said.  “He kind of lives through me and helps me push to meet goals that we set for each other.”

One major goal for Keratsopoulos was to take his talents to the next level.  That was checked off the list last year when he made the decision to commit to Mary Hardin-Baylor University in Belton.  

Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor were early options, but it was UMHB that rose to the top.  

“I started talking with Mary Hardin-Baylor, Hardin-Simmons and some other smaller schools to have more options,” he said.  “I wanted to play for the team and not just be on the team, and UMHB was a realistic school where I could get a good education and be able to play for the team.”

The future is set, but there is still plenty to be accomplished for Keratsopoulos and his teammates over the next year and a half.  

“Last year, our goal was just to break 400,” he said.  “We haven’t shot over 400 this year, and whenever I didn’t play, we still scored well.   If we just go out there and play like we did at Taylor, then there is a great chance that we could finish top five.  That would bring in a lot of positivity heading into next year when we are going to have four seniors and a junior on the team.”

Cameron will tee off from Austin at 8:05 am on Tuesday morning, with Keratsopoulos getting the round underway.  He said he doesn’t expect nerves to play a role this third time around.