D1 WIAA STATE G GOLF | Reagan Stuke, Kettle Moraine

Kettle Moraine's Reagan Stuke finished in a four-way tie for ninth place at the 2020 WIAA girls championship.

When it came to exploring colleges over the last seven months, Reagan Stuke found more doors closing on high school golfers in the Classes of 2021 and 2022 than those opening.

"The COVID-19 pandemic made the recruiting process very challenging," the senior at Kettle Moraine High School in Wales wrote in an email interview with Wisconsin.Golf. "I had to get creative. There were many schools that I reached out to that told me they were not recruiting ANY athletes from the 2021 class and some even said (they weren't recruiting) the 2022 class as well."

Against that backdrop of limited opportunities, Stuke knows how fortunate she was to find the door open to an opportunity in the heart of Tennessee and to be able to tweet this week she had made her oral commitment to Tennessee Tech University. The NCAA Division I school is located in Cookeville, Tenn., a community of 30,000 people and very much a bustling college town.

Stuke chose the Golden Eagles over offers from Division I Youngstown State and Division II Metropolitan State University-Denver and opportunities at Division III UW-Whitewater and UW-La Crosse. While those were her final five schools, she said she had also been talking with the University Dayton (Ohio), a Division I program but with limited scholarship resources.

"I have always known I wanted to go to a southern university, and after visiting TTU, I was hooked," wrote Stuke, who will major in Exercise Science. "I love the college-town feel that I immediately got as I stepped out of the car at a local breakfast diner. Everyone that lives there gets behind the university."

As for Stuke, she has always been behind the idea of playing Division I college golf. It just took her golf game a little extra time to get on the same page.

The two-time WIAA Division 1 state golf qualifier also plays soccer at Kettle Moraine and didn't start competing in golf outside the high school season until the summer following her freshman year. That was the season when Stuke's scoring average looked more like a radio frequency (105.7), but her focus remained dialed in on the destination she reached with her commitment.

"I knew what I wanted," Stuke wrote, recalling her vision for golf after her freshman season. "I wanted to play Division I golf, so I kept working."

The Lasers, who finished fifth at the WIAA Division 1 state tournament her freshman year, won the state title the next season with Stuke still fighting to crack the top five. That finally happened during her junior season and Stuke made the most of it, tying for fourth at the Classic 8 Conference Championship and finishing tied for 10th at the WIAA state tournament on the strength of a breakout 75 in the final round at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison.

After showing significant improvement this past summer on the WPGA Junior Tour, Stuke closed out her high school career at her very best. After missing the Classic 8 Championship sitting out a COVID-19 quarantine, Stuke returned to win the WIAA regional and finished tied for second at the sectional with a pair of 78s before finishing tied for ninth place at the state tournament in tough conditions on the Meadow Valleys Course at Blackwolf Run in Kohler.

"One of the questions Coach (Polk) Brown had for me was if I thought I would be able to come in and compete for a spot in the top five on the team," Stuke wrote about her next step at Tennessee Tech. "I believe with the work I put in during the winer and next golf season, I will have a good shot at making the lineup when I arrive at Tennessee Tech. I like to set the bar high and I am ready to take on the collegiate level." 

If she takes on college golf as doggedly as she did the recruiting process, Stuke will be just fine.

The ongoing NCAA-imposed recruiting dead period kept Stuke from meeting Brown and assistant coach Amanda Smith in person. Instead, they communicated via Zoom calls and emails and the Golden Eagles coaches were among those on the receiving end of Stuke's extra effort to get her name and her talents in front of coaches from the aforementioned schools that made her final cut.

"It was unfortunate that coaches could not come and watch me play," Stuke wrote, "so I sent them many swing videos, clips of me playing on the course, putting stroke videos and strength-training videos."

Stuke and her family took a trip to Cookeville so she could see the campus, even if she couldn't meet face-to-face with the coaches. She played Golden Eagle Golf Club, where she ran into  members of the TTU men's golf team.

"They were so welcoming," she wrote, saying that was important since Brown and Smith oversee both programs and emphasize performance training — right up Stuke's academic alley — with both squads, who work in harmony to make each other better.

So who's to blame Stuke for wanting to begin her college career, like, yesterday?

"Starting now, I represent TTU and I cannot wait to start my journey at a university with such a commendable tradition," she wrote. "I will wear the purple-and-gold with pride. I am up for any challenge the coaches give me because I want to represent them and my school well."

Girls Class of 2021

No. First name Last name High school July
1 Jo Baranczyk Bay Port 1 1 1 North Dakota State
2 Elise Hoven Cedarburg 2 2 2 North Dakota State
3 Caylie Kotlowski Stoughton 3 3 5 UW-Green Bay
4 Glenna Sanderson Middleton 8 8 NR TBA (academics)
5 Paige Hillman Hudson NR NR NR Sioux Falls (S.D.)
6 Kallie Lux Janesville Craig 9 4 3
7 Alyssa Schmidt Oregon 21 11 NR Taylor (Ind.)
8 Jolie Guyette De Pere 5 25 NR Mesa (Ariz.) CC
9 Faith Flynn Green Bay NEW Luth. NR NR NR
10 Reagan Stuke Kettle Moraine 17 NR NR Tennessee Tech
11 Grace Miller Oshkosh North NR NR NR
12 Ellie Behring Oak Creek 11 20 15 Winona (Minn.) State
13 Amanda Karvala New Berlin Eisenhower 7 15 NR
14 Caitlyn Hegenbarth Madison Edgewood 4 5 6 TBA (academics)
15 Lauren Haen Appleton Xavier 12 9 10
16 Maya Heckmann Lakeside Lutheran 10 14 13
17 Zjeneexa Vang Sheboygan North/South NR NR NR
18 Aly Kinzel Waunakee 14 7 4
19 Taylor Peper Sheboygan North/South NR NR NR
20 Veronica Parco Union Grove 13 12 19
21 CJ Romero Brookfield Central NR NR NR Northern Michigan (basketball)
22 Kylie Lanza Hartland Arrowhead NR NR NR
23 Sydney Grimm Waunakee 24 24 NR
24 Grace Weiss Milton/Shattuck St. Mary's 18 NR NR
25 Grace Jaeger Madison Edgewood 15 6 9
26 Jaden Woiwode River Falls NR NR NR
27 Kyley Wipper Brookfield Central NR NR NR
28 Erin Rosenkrantz Brookfield Central NR NR NR
29 Ashley Stanislawski Catholic Memorial NR NR NR
30 Madeline Killey Kimberly NR NR NR
31 Jada Chang Hartland Arrowhead NR NR NR
32 Courtney Draeger Jefferson NR NR NR
33 Ana Kieley Madison Memorial NR NR NR
34 Bridget McCarthy Madison Memorial 25 25 18
35 Izzie Mort Whitefish Bay 16 21 16
36 Isa Pierri Glendale Nicolet 6 16 NR
37 Leah Minchk Muskego 19 NR NR
38 Amber Nguyen Onalaska 20 10 8
39 Sophie Denure Portage 23 23 NR UW-La Crosse
40 Jilli Newman Madison Memorial NR NR NR
HM Elena Meier Waunakee NR NR NR Kent State (basketball)
HM Eliza Roman Oak Creek NR NR NR Waldorf (Iowa)

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