Wilkening inks with USD

FULDA -- When she was in fourth grade, Amanda Wilkening's parents signed her up for golf lessons. Years and countless rounds later, Wilkening is taking another step in her golfing career. The Fulda graduate recently signed with the University of ...

Fulda's Wilkening lines up a putt
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Fulda's Amanda Wilkening lines up a putt during a golf meet earlier this season in Worthington.

FULDA -- When she was in fourth grade, Amanda Wilkening's parents signed her up for golf lessons.

Years and countless rounds later, Wilkening is taking another step in her golfing career.

The Fulda graduate recently signed with the University of South Dakota's women's golf team.

"I really like golf and I am really kind of competitive with golf," Wilkening said. "I kind of wanted to continue my golfing career competitively at a school. Since the University of South Dakota is a DI school now, it's given me that advantage to go places like Las Vegas, Florida, California and compete at some of the bigger tournaments."

But her journey from the links in Fulda to a Division I program started years ago.


"In fourth grade my parents signed me up for golf lessons with Mr. (Brad) Holinka," Wilkening said. "I did golf lessons with him and really, really liked it. In the seventh grade I kind of picked it up again and really, really enjoyed it. I've been golfing ever since."

Once she was old enough, Wilkening became a staple on the Raiders' varsity team.

"I started in the seventh grade and right away was moved to varsity in the No. 6 spot and have never really been off of varsity," she said.

But it was recently that she rose to the top of her team and the Red Rock Conference.

"During the Red Rock Conference junior year, I started realizing I can be good and I can do well," Wilkening said. "Last year, junior year, I was in the 50s golfing in the beginning of the year. I was only in the 50s once this year. I continually got better. If I had a bad day, it wasn't horribly bad. I'm really glad that I chose golf. I figure that if I'm confident enough in myself, then I can do it."

Wilkening knows the step up from Class A golf to DI won't be easy.

"I'm definitely going to have to work on my short game, I really need to work on my putting," she said. "I'm going to listen to the coach as much as possible. Whatever he says, I will go with. I'll have him help me as much as possible and spend as much time as possible out on the golf course. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I have no classes.

"I already set up my schedule and Tuesday and Thursday's are wide open, so I will be working out and doing a lot of exercising and playing golf."


While golf will be a challenge, so will her studies. Wilkening plans pursuing a career in physical therapy.

"I had a challenge between the two schools I wanted to go to," she said. "It was between the University of South Dakota or the University of Minnesota, Rochester. I want to pursue a degree in physical therapy and both of them had good physical therapy programs. But Rochester was a smaller school and I'd graduate with maybe 100 kids. They had no sports, the only sports they had was going up to the Cities and watching the Gophers. I didn't really like that. I wanted to actually be in a sport."

The decision on whether to continue to play golf was her toughest.

"That was probably my hardest decision, do I want to play golf or do I just strictly do the schooling, or do I want to do golf and schooling both?" she explained. "I chose Vermillion just because not only is it a good school, but golfing is kind of a bonus. I really like to golf."

Going out and competing with some of the best golfers in the country, Wilkening is ready for the challenges that await.

"The biggest challenge will be going to these meets and meeting new people and playing at some of these harder courses," she said. "They're going to be a lot more challenging than the courses we have here."

But before she can compete against other schools, Wilkening must first compete within her own team.

"They take about six or seven girls to each meet and they have 11 girls on the team," she said. "Every meet, somebody else gets to go. You're always guaranteed to get to go to a meet, so the better you do, the more meets you get to go to. Which is my goal, I really want to practice hard and go to as many as possible."


And from her start years ago with Holinka until she singed her letter of intent, Wilkening is now ready for the next step in her successful golfing career.

"I'm so excited," Wilkening said. "I'm really happy that I signed with USD and I'm glad that I'm going to be golfing because that's what I really wanted to do. I really wanted to golf and get out there."

Wilkening signs
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Fulda's Amanda Wilkening (seated, left) recently signed a letter of intent to continue her golf career at the University of South Dakota. Pictured with Wilkening is her parents Valeri (seated, right) and Kent (back, right) and Fulda head golf coach Loren Carlson.

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