2022 WIAA Division 1 state girls golf | Elle O'Reilly, Westosha Central

Westosha Central senior Elle O'Reilly tees off during the first round of the WIAA Division 1 state girls golf championship at University Ridge GC in Madison.

The long and short of a recruiting process that led Elle O'Reilly to Milwaukee School of Engineering boiled down to the big and the little.

"The phrase 'big little school' was used a lot across my various tours," the senior at Westosha Central High School in Paddock Lake wrote in an email interview with Wisconsin.Golf. "I love the small-school aspect of one-on-one opportunities, but I would not thrive in a school formatted that way if it wasn't in a city like MKE. I can experience a big-school atmosphere (with surrounding colleges and the city), while also reaping the benefits of a small-school education and team environment."

O'Reilly, a two-time WIAA Division 1 state qualifier, liked what she saw of MSOE so much that she gave Raiders coach Kevin Hurd her verbal commitment Dec. 15 without seriously considering other schools. She wrote that many of the NCAA Division III schools in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference had reached out to her about their programs, but the likely Business Management major (with a minor in User Experience) didn't budge on MSOE, which is located less than a mile across the Milwaukee River from the Fiserv Forum, home of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks.

"Mentally, I committed (to MSOE) long before that," O'Reilly wrote of her conversation with Hurd making it official. "But that was the first time I had said the words 'I want to commit to MSOE.'"

Her impact for the 2-year-old Raiders program, which finished sixth out of 10 teams last fall at the Northern Athletic Collegiate Conference Championship, promises to be significant. 

There are six Wisconsin golfers among the eight on the MSOE roster this season and only one (Mackenzie Rynes of McFarland) competed at the varsity level in high school. O'Reilly, who is No. 15 in the Wisconsin.Golf girls Class of 2023 state rankings, teamed with Kylie and Katelyn Walker, a pair of top-five golfers in Wisconsin's Class of 2024, to lead Westosha Central to back-to-back WIAA Division 1 state championships and believes she can lead a similar climb at MSOE, where in choosing the Raiders she relished the idea of being a big fish in small pond.

"I believe with enough practice and commitment, I could have played at a very high level," wrote O'Reilly, whose improvement from her junior year to senior year at the WIAA state tournament — going from a T-33 finish (86-82) in 2021 to a T-18 showing (81-79) in 2022 at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison — would support that evaluation. "But I think (Division III) is going to be a good fit for me. It is competitive while also being more laid back than trying to play at a higher division.

"I think I will get more benefits out of a team if I am a high-ranked player on a growing team as opposed to the low-ranked player player on an already established team."

Moreover, during her visit to MSOE, O'Reilly got a good idea of how tightly knit that campus community was and how much of a presence Hurd is there.

Hurd, who grew up in Portage the son of a basketball coach, came to MSOE in 2021 to start the women's golf program and serve as an assistant men's basketball coach under Brian Miller. When Miller was named athletic director in November, Hurd stepped in as interim men's basketball coach and led the Raiders to a 10-14 record.

"One thing I noticed through the tour that stuck with me was how many athletes knew Coach Hurd and said hi to him as we were walking through the workout facility," O'Reilly wrote, referring to multi-purpose Kern Center on campus that includes workout facilities, a basketball arena and a hockey rink. "This made me more interested in the program. Every coach I have ever had, I've been close with, and that's something I was hoping to continue through college. Luckily, I think I found it."

In O'Reilly, the Raiders found a low-mileage golfer with a mighty swing that gets people's attention.

After playing a modest summer schedule in 2020 and '21, O'Reilly upped her volume in 2022 and played in three of the four events on the WPGA Players Tour with her best finish coming in her last start (an eighth-place showing at the GCs of Lawsonia in Green Lake). She qualified eighth out of 62 golfers for match play at the Wisconsin State Junior Girls Championship before falling to Westosha Central teammate Kylie Walker 3 and 2 in a first-round match before Kylie edged her sister 3 and 2 in the second round.

"I think I will fit in well (at MSOE)," wrote O'Reilly, who finished T-5 at the Southern Lakes Conference Championship (86), third at the Union Grove regional (76) and seventh at the uber-tough Janesville Parker sectional (87). "On my high school team, I had various experiences and positions that have prepared me to fit in anywhere. My freshman year of high school, I was the No. 1 (golfer) on a team full of upperclssmen. Even as a younger individual, I successfully took on a leadership role.

"However, the next year, I bumped down to the No. 3 spot (behind the Walker sisters) and became more of a supporting role. I believe I fulfilled this role successfully as well. I will fit into the golf program at MSOE in any position I am given."

At the same time, O'Reilly believes MSOE will be as good for her as she is for it.

"Being around such intelligent, motivated people will help me excel in all areas, not just my education," she wrote. "Since I will be surrounded by such hard-working people, I wholeheartedly believe this will rub off on me, and make me a better person and teammate." 

Girls Class of 2023

College selections on this list are updated regularly. To share updates on the decisions of high school seniors, including gap years and academic-only decisions, email Rob Hernandez at rob@killarneygolfmedia.com

First name Last name High school College Nov.
1, Ava Salay Prescott Wisconsin 2 1 2
tie, Norah Roberts Union Grove North Dakota State 1 4 3
3, Cassandra Psuik Greenfield Loyola (Ill.) 2 3 1
4, Hannah Dunk Milton UW-Green Bay 2 2 5
5, Riley Pechinski Stevens Point UW-Green Bay 5 7 8
6, Grace Durkin Green Bay Notre Dame Loyola (Ill.) 7 5 6
7, AJ Powell Appleton North UW-Parkside 6 6 4
tie, Kate Bogenschutz Cedarburg Montana 9 14 NR
9, Brin Neumann Tomah UW-Parkside 10 8 7
10, Sophie Lawler Racine Prairie School Lewis (Ill.) 13 10 15
11, Kayla Johnson Hamilton (Sussex) 10 17 NR
tie, Nora Cerroni Waukesha co-op UW-La Crosse 8 20 NR
13, Emily Gastrau Wauwatosa East/West Illinois Wesleyan 13 23 NR
14, Amelia Zingler Tomah Southern Illinois 12 11 12
15, Elle O'Reilly Westosha Central MSOE 15 NR NR
16, Abbie Ritzer New Richmond Sioux Falls (S.D.) 27 NR NR
17, Rhi Stutz Prescott Kutztown (Pa.) 19 13 NR
18, Kaitlyn Amtmann Arrowhead (Hartland) Alabama (academics) 20 18 NR
19, Julia Larson Arrowhead (Hartland) NR NR NR
20, Ashleigh Johnson Reedsburg UW-Eau Claire 25 16 NR
21, Hannah Miller Sheboygan North/South 16 9 10
22, Amanda Beckman Middleton 24 NR 11
23, Allie McBryde Union Grove UW-La Crosse 35 NR NR
24, Katie Westbrook Oconomowoc 28 NR 13
25, Danielle Bruecker Wrightstown 22 25 NR
26, Josie Clegg Brookfield East 29 NR NR
27, Emma Raimer Slinger 33 12 NR
28, Ella Denure Portage 26 NR 14
29, Ava Bloch Kaukauna 21 NR NR
30, Abby Schroeder Middleton 31 NR NR
31, Audrey Fryda Waukesha Catholic Memorial 34 NR NR
32, Ava Litkey Kenosha Bradford/Reuther Concordia-Wis. (hockey) 18 19 NR
33, Sarah Zimmerman Janesville Parker 32 25 NR
34, Sarah Nakada Edgewood (Madison) 30 22 NR
35, Anna Gosenheimer Brookfield Central 40 NR NR
36, Audrey Kaiser Arrowhead (Hartland) 17 15 NR
37, Lauren Parker Menomonee Falls 39 NR NR
38, Elli Anderson Altoona/Regis (Eau Claire) Bemidji State (Minn.) NR NR NR
39, Lydia Jensen Altoona/Regis (Eau Claire) St. Olaf (Minn.) NR NR NR
40, Sydney Greenfield Spooner 36 NR NR
41, Maddie Reiter Prescott 37 21 NR
42, Ava Heckmann Lakeside Lutheran 23 24 9
43, Lily Valimont Whitefish Bay 38 NR NR
44, Kailey Stevens New Richmond NR NR NR
45, Chloe Moore Kettle Moraine NR NR NR
46, Isabelle Royle Sun Prairie West Saint Louis (softball) NR NR NR
47, Gabby Ziegler Waunakee NR NR NR
48, Brooklyn Fleming Madison West NR NR NR
49, Peyton Foster Tomah NR NR NR
50 Lily Schick Brookfield East NR NR NR
HM Carly Verbeten Stanley-Boyd River Falls NR NR NR
HM Claire Ninneman Wisconsin Rapids Viterbo NR NR NR


Rob started covering the state's golf scene in 1987 at the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison. He joined Killarney Golf Media in 2015 and helped develop Wisconsin.Golf's extensive coverage of junior, high school, college, amateur and pro golf.

More from this Section