Wheeler accepts golf scholarship to Lindenwood University
The chance to play golf in a much longer season was one of the factors that helped Alex Wheeler decide to accept an NCAA Division II scholarship offer from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.
Wheeler signed her National Letter of Intent last Thursday at New Richmond High School.
Wheeler is the most successful girls golfer in New Richmond High School history. She produced the lowest score per round in team history this fall, averaging 40.78 strokes per round. She averaged 42.16 strokes as a junior, the third best average in team history. As a sophomore she averaged 43.26 strokes, the fifth best mark in team history.
Wheeler also holds the Tiger team record for lowest score in a nine-hole match (35), the lowest score in an 18-hole match (73) and this year she became the Tigers’ second Middle Border Conference individual champion. Andrea Pendergast was the first in 2004.
Wheeler is also the only Tiger girl ever to play in WIAA state championship tournaments in all four years of her high school career.
Lindenwood was one of three schools that Wheeler had in her final cut of colleges she was considering. St. Cloud State University and St. Paul-Concordia were the other two schools that were finalists. She said the decision was very difficult between the three.
“I had to take golf out of the equation and see what school I liked best,” Wheeler said. “They all had certain aspects that I liked.”
The atmosphere at Lindenwood won out. Wheeler said she loves the picturesque campus and the location in St. Charles, which has an historic setting. She said the St. Charles location on the outskirts of St. Louis also helped. She said the suburban setting would make for an easier transition to college life, rather than attending a school in a large city.
She said the Missouri climate also helped with her decision.
“I’ll be able to play almost year-round. That will help my game,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler will be the second New Richmond athlete competing at Lindenwood University. Megan Cox is a junior on the Lindenwood University women’s hockey team.
Wheeler said she met with the Lindenwood coaches and golfers and felt an instant connection. She said the close bond she has with her Tiger teammates showed her the importance of finding a team she’d connect with.
“I could tell I’d click with them right away,” Wheeler said about her future teammates. “I wouldn’t be here without the support of my team and my coaches and my parents.”
Wheeler becomes the second Tiger girl to earn an NCAA golf scholarship. Jessica Williams was the first, playing collegiately at Alabama State University.
Other former Tigers who played collegiately include Ashley Clark, Crystal O’Connell and Elizabeth Nadeau.
Tiger coach Neal Ziller said Wheeler ranks among the premier golfers that have come out of western Wisconsin in the past two decades. He said that includes former Eau Claire North golfer Melinda Johnson, who went on to play on the LPGA tour, Jackie Obermueller of River Falls, and the Danielson sisters, Lindsay and Casey, who combined for eight WIAA state championships while playing for Osceola.
Wheeler was often teamed with Casey Danielson in Middle Border Conference matches during Wheeler’s first three high school years. Danielson is a freshman at Stanford University this year.
“Casey Danielson is the best girl player I have ever seen or coached,” Ziller said. “Alex got a front row seat and watched how she played for three years. Her work ethic and her attention to her short game definitely rubbed off on Alex.”
Ziller said Wheeler and Megan Chelberg, who shared team MVP honors with Wheeler, are the longest drivers he’s coached in his long history with the team. He said Wheeler begins college with an advanced set of golf skills.
“Alex is a player who can self-diagnose bad play. Many players can’t do that,” he said. “Alex’s natural ability to hit the ball long will be an asset.”
Wheeler is also planning to practice patience with herself, knowing there will be plenty of challenges at the next level.
“I know I’ll have to adjust to a new city and to college life. I know I’ll improve, but it will take some time to adjust. I know I’m good enough to play the college game.”
She said she plans to work next summer with Ziller and New Richmond Golf Club professional Scott Cole so she heads to college playing at the top of her game.