Jays’ Kraft makes it official with MizzouIt’s official. Jamestown senior Laura Kraft will be a Missouri Tiger next fall. The three-time North Dakota Class A girls’ state champion signed a letter of intent on Wednesday to attend the University of Missouri as a member of the women’s golf team.
It’s official. Jamestown senior Laura Kraft will be a Missouri Tiger next fall.
The three-time North Dakota Class A girls’ state champion signed a letter of intent on Wednesday to attend the University of Missouri as a member of the women’s golf team.
“It’s really, super exciting,” said Kraft, who won 20 tournaments throughout the course of her high school career. “It’s hard to believe that this has come already. Before I started searching for colleges I never thought anything like this could happen.”
Kraft, who recently became the first Class A girls’ golfer to win three individual state championships, will be joining a Tiger team that has won 22 team tournaments and qualified for the Division I NCAA National Tournament in 2005.
“It’s definitely going to be a whole different level,” Kraft said. “I will be down there with some really good players and receiving college-level coaching and competing in college-level tournaments. It’s going to be a big change, but I definitely think it’s going to be a change for the better.”
The usually calm, collected Kraft admitted she feels some jitters making the step into Division I golf, but is prepared for the challenge.
“There are some nerves because it’s going to be such a change, but at the same time it’s really exciting to see what’s going to happen and all the different people I’m going to meet,” she said. “I think it’s going to be really fun.”
Excitement is just one of the many emotions that have hit her father Dean Kraft, who was also her high school coach for the last six years.
“As a coach it’s really cool to send one of my players off to play Division I golf,” he said. “As a dad you just reflect back to when Laura was little and you first started to see that she had some ability. You think back to that very first tournament she played in Alexandria where she shot a 120.”
She’s come a long way since then and is now one of the most decorated girls’ golfers in North Dakota history.
“The process of working with Laura and seeing her play summer golf and high school golf was the fun part,” Dean said. “This is just the next step, so this is exciting today.”
Dean and Laura will be heading to the campus, which is located in Columbia, Mo., this weekend for an official visit where they not only plan to see the area but also catch a few of the attractions the university has to offer.
“We’re going to see basketball and football,” Dean said. “(The football team) is at home against K-State (Kansas State) and their basketball team has their last exhibition game against Arkansas-Fort Smith, so it will be fun.”
There will also be some team activities as well.
“She will be staying in the dorms with the team and there’s also a little party at the coach’s house,” Dean said.
Missouri coach Stephanie Priesmeyer will be the first coach Laura has without the same last name, but the Jamestown standout should be in good hands. Priesmeyer has coached nine years and was named the 2004 Big 12 Coach of the Year and the 2005 NCAA Central Region Coach of the Year.
There will also be a familiar face on the roster that Laura has to look forward to.
Ariana Savich, of Carmel, Ind., was paired with Laura during a junior PGA tournament in Indiana over the summer, and since verbally committing to Mizzou Laura said she has exchanged a few messages with the Tiger freshman and a few other teammates.
“I’ve been kind of keeping track of a couple of the players via Facebook and there has been a lot of excitement,” said Laura. “It’s really encouraging because I know they are going to be kind of like my family when I’m down there.”
Savich will not only be a teammate of Laura’s but in practice the two could also become competitors battling for a spot in the tournament lineup.
“This year’s class and the 2010 class — three players in each class — are going to be really good and just five players play,” said Dean. “Laura is really going to have to get her game in shape if she wants to play as a freshman.”
It was inevitable when Laura began dominating the state Class A field that she would take her golf game to the collegiate level, but now that it has come to fruition, can she rule the golf course on a national level, too?
“The competition is going to be a lot different, but I think having the tournament experience, knowing what the competition feels like and what the adrenaline feels like should help me,” said Laura. “It’s going to be a lot different but I know it’s going to be a good experience for me.”
Sun sports writer David Griswold can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at email@example.com