Lodi's Haley Thoeny | 2022 Sherri Steinhauer Invitational

Lodi's Haley Thoeny, the 2021 Capitol Conference boys golf player of the year, will play college golf at UW-La Crosse in the fall of 2023 after she wraps up a gap year in which she is traveling through Europe this semester and plans to tour various national parks in the United States next semester.

Before we share Haley Thoeny's road from the boys golf team at Lodi High School to the women's golf program at UW-La Crosse (a path unique unto itself), a word of caution might be in order: Fasten your seatbelts!

Thoeny graduated from Lodi in May. She will join the Eagles in the fall of 2023.

In between, her journey will be one for the books. Scrapbooks. Lots of 'em.

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This semester, Thoeny has spent most of her time traveling through Europe. In her first month, she had already visited Spain, southern France, Monaco, Italy and Switzerland. In the last week or so, she has added Germany, England, The Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Scotland to the stops on her great adventure — yes, including a stop on the Swilcan Bridge on The Old Course at St. Andrew's Links, the home of golf.

Before returning home the second week of December, Thoeny and boyfriend Mitchell Lane will make a stop in Vienna, Austria before returning to Italy. There, they plan to see Venice, Florence, Naples, Positano, Rome and La Spieza. 

Next semester, Thoeny plans to explore national parks across the United States. That journey "isn't super laid out yet," she admitted, but knows her route will will include Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, Arches National Park in Utah, Yosemite National Park in California and, time permitting, others.

"Ever since I was little, my family valued traveling," Thoeny wrote in an email interview with Wisconsin.Golf, crediting her mother, Lysa, and father, Travis, for stretching the boundaries of their only child's world to all corners of the globe by hosting foreign exchange students from France and Spain so she could share her culture with them in the hopes that they would one day be able to reciprocate. "I was very lucky to have parents that (not only) wanted to take me to different places in the U.S. and internationally, but also (wanted) to show me cultures everywhere. And I fell in love with it.

"I got to meet my exchange student Gabi's family in Spain and they cooked paella and brought us to local restaurants to try tapas. I have hiked in Lake Como (in Italy), visited The Jungfrau (in the Swiss Alps) and met so many people worldwide. It's truly been amazing to be put into locals' shoes by staying in hostels, figuring out the train system and learning to say a few things in many languages."

Eventually, after returning home to her parents and dog Harper, Thoeny will look forward to life as a college student, likely one majoring in Business, minoring in Psychology and dreaming of one day owning her own business and helping coach a golf team on the mental side of the game.

That's where UW-La Crosse will enter the picture in about 10 months.

Instead of the Swiss Alps, Thoeny will gaze out at Grandad Bluff. Instead of the Rhine River, she'll be a few blocks from the Mississippi. Instead of St. Andrew's, she will get to know the twists and turns of The Golf Club at Cedar Creek and La Crosse CC in Onalaska and Forest Hills GC in La Crosse.

Thoeny gave her verbal commitment to Eagles coach Dave Taebel on Sept. 12, just before she embarked on the European leg of her gap year. She chose La Crosse, the runner-up in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference the last three years, over UW-Oshkosh, UW-Eau Claire, six-time defending WIAC champion UW-Whitewater and Winona (Minn.) State.

"Coaches reached out during my junior year and going into my senior year and I expressed to them that I wouldn't be going to college until the fall of 2023," wrote Thoeny, who played on the Lodi boys golf team in the spring because her school didn't field a girls team in the fall and earned Capitol Conference player-of-the-year honors as a junior in 2021. "(College coaches) were very understanding and it was nice to be able to get to know coaches and programs for a longer time and to not rush any (college) decisions."

The more Thoeny got to know Taebel, the golfers in the Eagles program and the campus, the more comfortable she felt that La Crosse was "the right place" for her.

"One thing that always stood out to me is that every time I mentioned UW-L as an interest, people only had good things to say — 'I know Coach Taebel; he's a great guy.' 'You'll love it up there if you go.' Or my coach (David Zilker): 'My daughters loved going to La Crosse and I'm sure you would love it, too,'" Thoeny wrote. "Having so many friends from Lodi that go there as student-athletes that couldn't love it more all just made it feel like the right sign. Of course, I love the campus and facilities, having access to multiple courses and, now, an indoor practice area and some great future teammates and coach I have already been able to start relationships with."

In addition to gaining someone with worldly experiences off the golf course, the Eagles will gain a golfer who has shown steady improvement since first dipping her toes in the competitive waters in 2019. 

A three-time WIAA Division 2 sectional qualifier during the boys golf season, Thoeny finished T-35 at the Wisconsin PGA Junior Championship in 2020 and T-28 in 2021. She made only one start in a 36-hole event this past summer, finishing a career-best T-20 at the Sherri Steinhauer, but won three one-day WPGA Junior Tour events at Edelweiss Chalet CC in New Glarus (72), House on the Rock Resort GC in Spring Green (77) and Geneva National GC's Trevino Course (80) before turning her attention to college and the decision about where she'd wind up after her gap year.

"I had toured several colleges before UW-La Crosse, but after seeing the campus I knew it was one of my top choices," Thoeny wrote. "Coach Taebel reached out not long after and things started to make sense for me. I had played in tournaments with girls that go there and they all love the program so much.

"As a freshman, I really want to develop a set schedule for myself to become a consistent (and) reliable player in the top five. As I stick with the program, I would really love to fill a leadership role and just be a positive teammate to be around."

In the meantime, Thoeny will come to campus loaded with story-after-story of her journey from Lodi to UW-La Crosse. Like that visit to the Old Course at St. Andrew's.

"They open on Sundays for anyone and everyone to walk the course," Thoeny wrote. "My dad has played there before so it was really special for me to see it, too. Hopefully, I can lay it one day. It is beautiful and unforgettable."

Girls Class of 2022

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

No. First name Last name High school College Nov.
2020
Nov.
2019
July
2019
Nov.
2018
1 Ellie Frisch Middleton UW-Green Bay 5 4 9 5
2 Jenna Anderson Kettle Moraine UW-Green Bay 1 5 4 2
3 Sarah Balding Brookfield Central Baylor (academics) 2 1 1 1
tie, Madeline Fiebig Kettle Moraine Mississippi (academics) 6 6 3 3
5 Avery Dudra Bay Port Wisconsin (academics) 3 3 5 11
6 Lannie Veenendall New Richmond Augustana (S.D.) 8 15 13 7
7 Lauren Peterson Hartland Arrowhead Wisconsin (academics) 4 2 2 4
8 Sophie Pokela Tomah Augustana (S.D.) 17 13 12 NR
9 Haley Thoeny Lodi UW-La Crosse
(Class of 2023)
7 7 NR NR
10 Milanne Dahmen Middleton Edgewood College (academics) 11 10 10 10
tie, Claire Kelbel Hamilton (Sussex) UW-La Crosse 23 NR NR NR
12 Ava Wittstock Sheboygan North/South Marquette (academics) 12 8 NR NR
13 Allison Balduzzi Onalaska UW-La Crosse 33 17 NR NR
14 Leah Balsbaugh Hamilton (Sussex) Univ. of Dubuque (Iowa) NR NR NR NR
15 Emily Hopp Oregon Wisconsin (academics) 25 NR NR NR
16 Eleanor Potter Homestead (Mequon) Mississippi (academics) 24 NR NR NR
17 Lauren Ambrookian Hamilton (Sussex) UW-La Crosse 31 NR NR NR
tie, Audra Czechowicz Brookfield Central Minnesota (academics) NR NR NR NR
19 Sally Vangsness Saint Croix Central Minnesota-Duluth (academics) 9 9 NR NR
20 Ali Torhorst Union Grove Wisconsin (academics) NR NR NR NR
21 Abbey Beranek Bay Port St. Thomas, Minn. (academics) 15 12 NR NR
22 Liz Rohl Prescott UW-Stout NR NR NR NR
23 Kya Bronston Onalaska St. Thomas, Minn. (academics) 20 NR NR NR
24 Nora Purtell Brookfield Central North Carolina State (academics) NR NR NR NR
25 Abby Busick De Pere Florida Gulf Coast (academics) 18 22 NR NR
26 Emma Laundrie Freedom St. Norbert 30 NR NR NR
27 Jessica Heinsch Prescott Minnesota State-Mankato (academics) 36 NR NR NR
28 Callie Berg Freedom Wisconsin (academics) 10 11 8 NR
29 Madison Berg Hudson UW-Platteville NR NR NR NR
30 Hallie Tulip Arcadia/Independence UW-Stout 28 NR NR NR
tie, Madeline Maraccini Racine Prairie School Minnesota (academics) NR NR NR NR
32 Sydney Nolan New Richmond Northwood Tech (academics) 21 NR NR NR
32 Sydney Burgess St. Croix Central UW-River Falls NR NR NR NR
34 Eva Kumer Brookfield Central MIchigan (academics) 27 NR NR NR
35 Tess Bruner Wausau East/West UW-Stevens Point 19 NR NR NR
36 Emily Humphrey Waunakee UW-Stout NR NR NR NR
37 Angelina Myhr Madison La Follette UW-Green Bay (academics) 14 14 NR NR
38 Kate Downie Hortonville UW-Stevens Point 22 23 NR NR
38 Lily Pietz Menomonee Falls Wisconsin (academics) 26 NR NR NR
40 Cassidy Fish Cedarburg Wisconsin (academics) NR NR NR NR
41 Taylor Swalve Waunakee UW-Platteville NR NR NR NR
42 Caroline Lewison Baraboo Arizona State (academics) NR NR NR NR
43 Taryn Endres DeForest UW-Oshkosh NR NR NR NR
44 Hailey Matenaer West Bend East/West UW-Oshkosh 40 NR NR NR
45 Mara Bakke Madison Abundant Life Olivet Nazarene NR NR NR NR
46 Natalie Rauwolf Madison Memorial Ripon (women's basketball) NR NR NR NR
47 Dulce Gefke Stoughton Mount Mercy (Iowa) NR NR NR NR
48 Natalie Kammer Fort Atkinson Wisconsin (academics) 40 NR NR NR
49 Lauren Lostetter Lake Mills North Park (Ill.) NR NR NR NR
50 Gil Holme St. Croix Central UW-Eau Claire NR NR NR NR
tie, Gillian Johnson Hayward Wisconsin (academics) NR NR NR NR
HM Isabel Zuniga Meyer Brookfield East UW-Stevens Point NR NR NR NR
HM Ashley Hattori Hartford UW-Stevens Point NR NR NR NR
HM Alix Kundinger Hortonville Lander University (S.C.) 34 24 NR NR
HM Sammy Galian New Berlin Eisenhower/West UW-Whitewater NR NR NR NR
HM Kaylea Affeld Lakeside Lutheran Wisconsin Lutheran College NR NR NR NR
HM Kylee Yzerman Amery UW-River Falls NR NR NR NR
HM Faith Cour Wisconsin Rapids UW-River Falls NR NR NR NR
HM Michayla Leonard Oconto St. Norbert NR NR NR NR
HM Ally Reis West De Pere St. Norbert NR NR NR NR
HM Meg Turkington Baraboo St. Norbert NR NR NR NR
HM Emmery Wiese Baraboo St. Norbert NR NR NR NR
HM Andrea Smith East Troy UW-Stout NR NR NR NR
HM Savannah Szalanski Watertown Lakeland (Wis.) NR NR NR NR

rob@killarneygolfmedia.com

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.

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