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Playing up to the next level

The four Laker seniors who signed their letters of intent to play women’s golf on the collegiate level include (L to R) Trisa Hutchinson (NDSU), Matty Tschider (Augustana), Emma Thompson (University of Jamestown, N.D.) and Natalie Roth (NDSU). DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

The next step for the four seniors of the Detroit Lakes girls’ golf team has been sealed and delivered – but first they still have some business to take care come next spring.

The Laker senior quad each signed their letters of intent for college Wednesday evening in the DLHS commons area, as plans for after high school are set.

Trisa Hutchinson and Natalie Roth will both be attending North Dakota State University to play for the Bison women, while Emma Thompson will go westward to the University of Jamestown and Matty Tschider will play for the Augustana College golf team.

Having one or two players sign with college teams on the same night is big, but four is a colossal achievement for what has become the best girls’ golf team in the state.

“As we took this journey together as a team, the girls just got better and better each year,” said DL head coach Cali Harrier.

“Each college is a good fit for the girls and I am just very proud for them and the golf program here.”

Roth and Hutchinson will be gearing up in the Bison colors next fall and take on the challenge of playing on the Division I level.

It occurred to them  they were both looking at NDSU during a road trip to Alexandria last winter.

“We brought up what colleges we wanted to attend and play for and NDSU was mentioned by both of us,” Hutchinson said. “We said if that is how it worked out, that would be awesome.”

There were several steps which needed to be taken, and Roth winning the individual state championship last spring, along with freshman teammate Kate Smith, was a big one.

Roth was on several college coaches’ radars, but when she helped claim the Lakers’ second-straight Class 1A title and a co-state championship individually, the offers gushed in.

“I wasn’t sure what schools were interested in me before, but when I won the state title, a lot of doors opened for me,” Roth said. “(NDSU head coach) Matt Johnson was so awesome in recruiting me, he made a huge effort to watch me play in meets multiple times.”

Hutchinson also loved the atmosphere Johnson sets for the Bison team, as well as the fact golfing legend Amy Anderson just finished her NDSU tenure there, where she set all sorts of records.

“I talked with Amy last February and all the girls on the team are so nice, as well,” Hutchinson said. “I fell in love with the campus on my visit. I wanted to play on a good team and I’m on a good team.

“I wanted to play close to home and I am. I also get to play with my best friend, as well.”

The motivation of competing for a starting spot on the Bison squad also is there for Roth.

“They have an entire roster of good players, but a huge factor going to NDSU is that I wanted to fight for a spot,” Roth said. “That makes a winning team.”

Tschider also was discovered by Augustana head coach Peggy Kirby during the multiple state meets the Lakers were in.

The process of recruiting Tschider eventually led to her decision to playing for the Viking women’s golf team.

“I loved everything about the campus and the town,” Tschider said. “It’s just a great group of players on the team, too. I should be able to fit right in with them right away.”

Thompson’s journey to Jamestown, N.D., had a little nudge with DLHS graduate Tyler Baukol being one of the men’s golf team’s top players.

Thompson also improved her game two-fold over the course of the last two years and more than earned her attention from college coaches, including Jamestown’s Dustin Jensen.

“(Jensen) heard about me through Tyler and I took a visit there and it just seemed like a great fit for me there,” Thompson said. “They are a building team and the coach is bringing in four of us. It’s exciting and we should be a strong team.

“The college level is another world, a big challenge, but I definitely am not done improving my game.”

Now the Lakers can focus on the business at hand this coming spring, and that’s to win their third-consecutive state title, while setting the Minnesota record of 297 for a meet.

“The best is yet to come with this group of seniors,” Harrier said. “We now get to enjoy the last year together and that 297 is in the back of their minds.”

The opportunity of winning two state team titles, a state runner-up and third-place finish the last four seasons, has afforded these four seniors the chance to climb to the next level.

It’s a fact all of them appreciate.

“I feel extremely blessed to be on such a talented team, one in which we push each other and still support each other so much,” Hutchinson said.

With the ride of what will be a historical team ending after this spring season, that opportunity has more than prepared these four Laker seniors for the next challenge of women’s college golf.

“It’s been a great journey,” Tschider said. “It’s one I don’t want to end, but unfortunately it does.”

But with that ending, another start will just begin for Hutchinson, Roth, Tschider and Thompson.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.