Kelli Ann Strand, a freshman at the University of Nebraska, set a school tournament record in her first college golf tournament, held Sept. 12 and 13 in New Orleans. She is a 2022 graduate of Challis High School.
Kelli Ann Strand, the Challis High School class of 2022 valedictorian, walked away with the individual title and a new school tournament record in her first college golf tournament.
Strand entered the Green Wave Classic, held in New Orleans on Sept. 12 and 13, in the No. 1 position in the lineup for the University of Nebraska team. She won Nebraska’s competitive qualifying rounds the week before to get that position.
She shot a 202, 14 under par, in the 54-hole tournament to win the title and lead her Husker team as it finished in second place.
She shot a 67 and 64 on Monday's two 18-hole rounds and had a score of 70 on Tuesday's final 18 holes.
Her score of 202 matched Husker All-American Kate Smith's school record 202 at the Westbrook Spring Invitational held in Peoria, Arizona, in February 2018.
Jeff Griesch, with Nebraska Athletic Communications, said Strand fired a 29, which is 7 under, over the back nine in Monday's second round and opened with a 31 (-5) on the front nine Tuesday morning "to take firm control of the individual leaderboard.
"She hit the turn to the back at 17-under par through 45 holes, after playing the back nine at 11-under two rounds Monday," Griesch wrote. "However, she ran into trouble on No. 10 in the final round, taking her only double-bogey of the tournament. She quickly recovered with a birdie on No. 11, but it was her only birdie on the back nine to go along with five pars and two bogeys on Tuesday."
Nebraska head coach Jeanne Sutherland said Strand "played some phenomenal golf. Her presence on the course was really good and she did a great job of just staying in the moment and not letting anything get too big for her."
LSU won the team title with a three-round total of 832, which is 32 under par. Nebraska was second in team standings with an 835, a school-record score and 29 under par.
Strand had already earned recognition from the Big Ten conference, as one of the three Nebraska players pegged as Big Ten Golfers to Watch. The other two Huskers on that list are Megan Whittaker, a graduate student at Nebraska, and Michaela Vavrova, a junior.
“Strand could make an instant impact for the Huskers in 2022-23,” Nebraska athletics officials said in a news release prior to this week's tourney. She is coming off a solid summer of qualifying for the U.S. Junior Amateur and finishing as the runner-up at the Girls Junior Americas Cup for the second straight year. She won the Idaho Women’s Match Play Championship and was runner-up at the Idaho Women’s Amateur. Strand is a three-time Idaho Class 2A state golf champion. The state tournament was canceled her sophomore year because of COVID-19.
Strand, who had a 4.0 grade point average at CHS, joins a team loaded with Academic All-Americans. Nebraska women’s golf leads the nation with 90 Scholastic All-Americans since 1989, including three during the 2021-22 school year. Nebraska boasts a 95 percent graduation success rate for all of its student-athletes in all sports.
The Huskers’ golf schedule has Strand and her teammates traveling around the country this fall. They compete in Madison, Wisconsin, on Sept. 18 and 19; in Omaha, Nebraska, Oct. 3 and 4; Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Oct. 10 and 11; Lawrence, Kansas, on Oct. 17 and 18; and Miami on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
The fall season wraps up with the Miami outing. The spring season starts up Feb. 6 and 7, 2023, in Boca Raton, Florida; with tournaments leading up the the May 19-24 NCAA Championship in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Strand was awarded a full-ride athletic and academic scholarship to Nebraska. She's believed to be the first CHS graduate to receive an athletic scholarship to a Big Ten school.
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