Since her high school doesn't offer a girls golf program, Wabeno senior Grace Warrner still has plenty of high school golf to look forward to this spring when she will tee it up again on the Wabeno/Laona boys golf team.
However, the Lakewood resident will begin her senior season with the Rebels later this month knowing her golf career will continue even after it is done.
Warrner, a three-time WIAA Division 3 boys golf sectional qualifier, last month signed an intent to enroll at UW-Stout. She was drawn to the Menomonie campus by its Pre-Health Sciences major that will allow her to pursue a career as a surgeon and chose the Blue Devils, who have made three NCAA Division III Championship appearances since 2013, over interest in Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and Aurora (Ill.) University, both Division III schools.
"I have been playing golf my entire life, and I’ve always known that I wanted to play at a collegiate level," Warrner wrote in an email interview with Wisconsin.Golf. "When Coach (Howie) Samb began recruiting me, and I looked into UW-Stout and realized I loved the Polytechnic spirit of the school. I then went for a college visit and met with Coach Samb again, and I realized that I really liked his coaching attitude and techniques. I really liked the golf program and knew I would really like playing for Stout."
Warrner, whose older sister Maggie is a sophomore on the women's golf team at Division III Illinois Wesleyan, teamed with her on two of the Rebels' three sectional berths. Wabeno/Laona finished eighth at the sectional Grace's freshman year and fifth when she was a sophomore and her sister a senior.
Last spring, Warrner qualified for the Marathon sectional individually by finishing fifth with an 85 at the Crivitz regional. She shot 86 at the sectional, missing out on a state tournament berth by just six shots.
"I was looking for a school that wasn't huge, but was also a lot bigger than my high school," Warrner said. "I loved the campus size of Stout and how it was split between a North and South campus .... Coach Samb was incredible at answering all of my questions, regardless of the topic (and) if he didn't know, he would refer me to someone who did."
One of those persons was Dr. Alexandra Hall, a senior lecturer in the biology department who helped Warrner map out a path from college to a career in the medical profession.
"My career is still undecided, but I believe I want to be a surgeon," Warrner wrote. "Stout is super hands-on, and I learn best by doing it, so I believe Stout will give me the best academic future with their polytechnic program."
In the meantime, Warrner hopes she can give Stout — the runner-up to UW-Whitewater each of the past two seasons in the WIAC after winning the most recent of its three WIAC titles under Samb, the six-time WIAC coach of the year.
"Coach Samb has been (WIAC) coach of the year many times and the women's team has a tradition of making the NCAAs," Warrner wrote. "I would love to contribute to that tradition of success and help the women's team make it to the NCAAs again. I am so excited to be a part of the team and contribute in any way I can."