The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater golf team was granted a special waiver Tuesday for its seniors to compete next season — giving former Milton athlete CheyAnn Knudsen and former Milton coach Andrea Wieland one more chance to win an NCAA Division III women’s golf championship.
“When the NCAA announced the student athletes would be granted another year we were excited but then we weren’t sure if the WIAC would be able to deny that participation,” Wieland said. “So we wanted to make sure we had a clear interpretation of the legislation from a university and conference perspective.”
The majority of a season for women’s golf takes place in the fall, including the WIAC tournament, which UW-Whitewater has won three years in a row. After the spread of coronavirus reached pandemic levels and canceled 2020 spring championships, the NCAA passed legislation allowing spring athletes an extra season of eligibility; however, individual golfers had to apply for waivers for one more year of collegiate golf.
To add to the uncertainty, the University of Wisconsin said it wouldn’t be allowing spring seniors to return for an extra season, which gave the Warhawks more pause.
Knudsen was one of four UW-Whitewater seniors preparing to compete for the national championships in May. Of those four seniors, Ashley Hofmeister has decided not to return to UW-Whitewater, Kristin Bowe will return and Kelli Storti plans to return if she’s accepted into her graduate school program at UW-Whitewater. The Warhawks will not be granted an automatic bid into the 2021 tournament based on their 2020 performance. Instead, they’ll have to win their fourth WIAC title in a row in what will be Wieland’s fifth year as head coach.
“We had a record-breaking year and, more importantly, the team chemistry was amazing,” Wieland said. “Everyone was on the same page, even the freshmen that were sitting on the sideline waiting to become the future of our program. That’s what made this year so special. That’s also what made it so difficult when it was yanked away so quickly.
“We were planning to have a strong finish at nationals and were working hard toward our goals.” These girls have definitely learned not to take one day or one season for granted through all of this; but I definitely think golf prepared them mentally to handle all of these things.”