Jo Baranczyk had barely hung up the phone the other day — after delivering to North Dakota State women's golf coach Matt Johnson the news that she had decided to be a Bison in the fall of 2021 — when the two-time defending WIAA Division 1 state champion dialed up good friend and junior golf rival Elise Hoven of Cedarburg.
"I FaceTimed her like five minutes after I called coach Johnson," the Bay Port junior said Thursday in a telephone interview after confirming what she had revealed earlier via Twitter, that the No. 1 golfer in the Wisconsin.Golf girls Class of 2021 state rankings would be joining Hoven, who is No. 2, in Fargo.
Was there screaming involved?
"A little bit maybe," Baranczyk said, laughing. "We were both pretty happy."
Hoven wrote in a text: "I was really excited when Jo told me about her commitment to NDSU. She is one of my best friends and we have grown a lot closer over the past couple of years. I can’t wait to be teammates together!"
For that matter, there should have been screaming on the other end of the phone during Baranczyk's conversation with Johnson.
For the second time in four years, the NDSU coach has landed the top two Wisconsin golfers from the same graduating class. In 2017, Johnson landed Middleton's Alexis Thomas and Oregon's Taylor McCorkle — ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, in their class by Wisconsin.Golf — and they were two of the top three golfers in the Bison lineup during the 2019-20 season before it was abruptly halted by the cancellation of the spring season in mid-March.
Baranczyk chose NDSU over offers from Loyola (Ill.) and Missouri State, also schools robust with Wisconsin ties — Loyola coach Carly Werwie is a Kenosha native and former University of Wisconsin golfer whose team has one Wisconsin golfer in Menomonee Falls' Lorenza Martinez while Missouri State is led by former Kettle Moraine High School golfer Abby Cavaiani. But there is already one Baranczyk on the Fargo campus — brother Jed will be a junior on the men's golf team this fall with three seasons of eligibility remaining with the recent COVID-19 extension — and Jo Baranczyk is uniquely familiar with what NDSU has to offer.
"When I went there with Jed on his visit (in 2018), I really loved it there; it felt a lot like Green Bay so it kind of felt like home," said Jo Baranczyk, who joined her brother on as many recruiting visits as she could make to gain a greater sense of the opportunities that might be out there for her one day.
"I thought it would be good to go on any visit he went on. It's fun to go along for the ride, but I was interested in seeing everything like he was, too."
Her trips to Fargo allowed her to become familiar with the vast golf-related facilities at NDSU. The golf programs have their own short-game facility and they can also hit shots at the Dacotah Field Bubble during the winter months on top of academic, sports medicine and strength-and-conditioning facilities.
"We both appreciated NDSU because they are really focused on athletics and academics," said Jo Baranczyk, who was able to watch a Bison football game and see for herself the support for a program that has won eight of the last nine NCAA Football Championship Subdivision national titles. "We loved that environment. And, obviously, growing up in Wisconsin, we are pretty used to the cold weather. It doesn't bug us too much. My favorite season is winter."
More importantly for Jo Baranczyk, however, NDSU wasn't a fair-weather school when it came to its recruitment of her.
Incredibly proud of @BaranczykJo on her verbal commitment to @NDSUgolf to continue her athletic and academic career. Back to back state champ has one more run as a @BayPortHS Pirate. Big things to come for Jo!! @ndsugolfMJ #HornsUp 🤘🏼 pic.twitter.com/CWLCf2YayE— Bay Port Girls Golf (@BPGirlsGolf) April 9, 2020
A high-mileage golfer who has competed in 74 WPGA Junior points events since 2012, Baranczyk won 21 of them, including the Lake Arrowhead Invitational and the WPGA Junior Championship at the start of her 2019 summer schedule. However, as the recruiting process began to intensify, Baranczyk struggled mightily at the National PGA Junior Championship and the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship at SentryWorld in Stevens Point.
When Baranczyk took an unofficial visit to NDSU last fall — under the guise of move-in weekend for her brother — Johnson made sure she knew his confidence in her being a difference-maker for his program never wavered.
"I never actually took an official visit, but when we helped Jed move in last year, I went and kind of hung out with the team a little bit and walked around campus with the coach," said Jo Baranczyk, who hopes to study nursing or "something in the science field" at NDSU. "Another thing that pushed me to pick NDSU was that coach Johnson, he really always believed in me and everything I was doing, even when I might not have performed well at the national level or just throughout the whole year. I had a rough year, but he was there the whole time."
And now Baranczyk will be there, in Fargo, the latest in what's becoming a roster crowded with Wisconsin natives.
Thomas and McCorkle are scheduled to graduate before Baranczyk and Hoven arrive, although a COVID-19 waiver could keep them around one more year. "If any of the girls could be on the team as a fifth-year (senior), I'd be really excited to play with them," Baranczyk said.
In the meantime, Lake Geneva Badger senior Holly Murphy — ranked 10th in the Wisconsin.Golf Class of 2020 — will be also there when they arrive. She gave her approval to Baranczyk joining Hoven in 2021 as they were talking.
"Actually, when I was telling Elise, Holly texted me a couple minutes later, too," Baranczyk said. "She was pretty excited. We're all excited."