With an eye toward a career in medicine, Liz Santos was simply looking for a way to balance school and golf in a setting that made the Appleton Fox Valley Lutheran senior feel comfortable.
Santos found that setting in Lake Forest (Ill.) College.
The three-time WIAA Division 2 state qualifier recently announced she will attend Lake Forest next fall and play golf for the NCAA Division III Foresters. She also considered St. Mary's (Minn.) and Wisconsin Lutheran College.
"Lake Forest was the right fit for me because it had everything I was looking for in a school," Santos wrote in an email interview with Wisconsin.Golf. "I was looking for a school that has strong academic programs and athletic programs, and where I could have a good balance between academics and athletics. ... When I visited Lake Forest, I felt that Lake Forest was a place where I could reach my goals academically and as a golfer."
Santos, who won the Northeastern Conference championship by seven shots this past fall, then rallied from three shots down after nine holes at the WIAA Division 2 Appleton Xavier sectional to earn the last of three individual state tournament berths. At University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, she shot 88-84 and finished alone in 10th place — 20 shots behind winner Clair Phakamad of Appleton Xavier — for Santos' second straight top-15 finish at state.
Santos will be joining a Lake Forest program that finished a distant second to perennial power Grinnell (Iowa) at the Midwest Conference Championship this past fall. The school has sponsored women's golf since the 2014-15 season, when the Foresters finished fifth in the conference out of six teams, and then climbed to fourth in 2015-16 and third the next two seasons before closing the gap between with Grinnell to 51 strokes with their runner-up finish this fall.
After meeting some of the girls on the team and talking to (head) coach (Sean) O’Malley and (associated head coach Tamlyn) Tills, I felt like I could fit in well with the team," wrote Santos, who plans to to major in Biology with a pre-med emphasis. "The Pre-med and science programs at Lake Forest really impressed me. I also really like how Lake Forest is a small campus, but it is really close to Chicago. ... Lake Forest has many opportunities for pre-med students to get involved in things like research and at local hospitals. Lake Forest also has a lot of resources for students to help them plan what they will do after they graduate, which really stood out to me."
Before she graduates, though, Santos hopes to help elevate the Lake Forest women's golf program. The Foresters will graduate just one senior off their seven-player roster and Santos will join a team that includes former Madison Edgewood golfer CeCe Cruz of Oregon next fall.
"The golf program is a newer program," Santos wrote. "While talking with Coach O’Malley, he has mentioned multiple times that a big goal the team has is to win conference. I hope to help achieve that goal with the team."