For the second time in three years, the University of Sioux Falls (South Dakota) women’s golf program has ventured into the La Crosse and Eau Claire areas and come away with two Wisconsin recruits likely to make an immediate impact for the NCAA Division II Cougars.
Annie Balduzzi of La Crosse Aquinas and Maggie Veenendall of New Richmond both signed National Letters of Intent Wednesday during the start of the fall signing period. They joined Maddie Hanson of Lake Elmo, Minnesota, in the incoming freshman class for Sioux Falls, which finished third in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference last spring behind Augustana (S.D.) and Minnesota State-Mankato.
They were among at least more than a half-dozen Wisconsin seniors who signed NLIs on the first day of the signing period.
Hartland Arrowhead’s Emily Lauterbach signed with the University of Wisconsin, which also picked up a recruit from Illinois in Barrington’s Nicole Ciskowski. Eau Claire Memorial’s Lexi Meade signed with Division I Drake (Iowa) while Waunakee's Sam Soulier signed with Division II Minnesota State-Mankato and Eau Claire North’s Sydney Brown signed with Division III St. Catherine’s (Minnesota). Beaver Dam's Kendra Swanson will sign with Division III UW-Stout on Thursday.
Among Wisconsin boys to sign NLIs were Milwaukee Marquette’s Jack Blair (Division I Brown) and Drew Sagrillo (Division II Dominican, N.C.); Kaukauna’s Brock Hlinak (Division II Queens University, N.C.); Beaver Dam’s Zak Kulka (Division I UW-Green Bay); Lake Geneva Badger’s Blake Wisdom (Division I Bucknell); and Waunakee's Sean Murphy (Division III UW-Eau Claire).
In signing with Sioux Falls, Balduzzi and Veenendall will join former Onalaska golfer Sydney Hubbard and former Hudson golfer Lexi Jonas, who are both sophomores for the Cougars.
“We have added three young women who are going to be phenomenal student-athletes for … Sioux Falls and the golf program,” Vosler said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited for their future on and off the golf course. Our coaching staff is really looking forward to supporting and providing a culture that will bring success for Annie, Maggie and Maddie while at USF.”
Balduzzi, a three-time WIAA Division 2 state qualifier, finished in the top 10 at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison all three years, capped by a runner-up finish as a senior. The three-time Mississippi Valley Conference individual champion was a four-time all-MVC honoree and the MVC player of the year this fall, when she averaged 39.0 in nine-hole matches.
“We can’t wait for Annie to join us next fall,” Vosler said of Balduzzi, who plans to major in nursing with an eye toward working as a Registered Nurse in a rehabilitation or critical care units of a hospital post-graduation. “She’s proven with her track record to be a gamer. … A great athlete that is driven, competitive and very coachable, we think the sky’s the limit for Annie with golf and her academic future. We look forward to helping her be successful.”
Veenendall, who had been heavily recruited by NCAA Division III power Grinnell (Iowa), was a four-time Middle Border Conference first-team all-conference performer and three times its player of the year. She capped a stellar high school career by leading New Richmond to a WIAA Division 1 sectional title and its first state tournament berth since 2012. The Tigers placed fifth behind Veenendall, who shot rounds of 81 and 75 at University Ridge to finish tied for sixth.
“Maggie is going to be a great addition to our program and university,” Vosler said. “Her development and drive to improve over the past four years has elevated her golf game to become one of the premier golfers in Wisconsin. … We can’t wait for Maggie to join us next season. We think the best is yet to come for her and look forward to helping her on her path.”