It's good to be home.
That was the sentiment expressed Tuesday by University of Nebraska women's golf team member Katelyn Wright, who's savoring her two-week visit to her Incline Village home before returning to the grindstone.
“It's nice to come back and kind of let things settle down,” said Wright, a 2010 Incline grad and four-time state golf champion of the Nevada 2A. “I'm at the course still six to seven hours a day, but it's calm, which is definitely different because it's so hectic being out on the road. And it's really great to be around friends and family, even if it's for a brief time.”
Plus, she added, “The weather definitely is better here” than the sweltering Midwest.
Wright, who recently completed her sophomore year at Nebraska, has no problem staying busy as she doggedly pursues her dream — professional golf.
She recently qualified for the 64-player match-play portion of the 36th annual U.S. Women's Amateur Publinks Championships in New Jersey, and she returns to Nebraska on Saturday to compete in another match-play tournament.
Her Nebraska coach, Robin Krapfl — who was a college teammate of Wright's mother, Shelly, for the Cornhuskers — said her junior golfer gained priceless experience in the USGA event in the college offseason.
“Definitely,” said Krapfl, who's coached the Cornhuskers for 25 years. “Any time you can put yourself in position playing the best players in the country, it's going to be beneficial. And I think that she really proved to herself that she can compete at the highest level. Her first round of match play was against one of the best players in the country, and she went toe-to-toe with her.”
Krapfl said Wright has come a long way since her freshman year, when she faced an acclimation period to her new college life.
“I think with all freshmen there is an adjustment period where they need to get used to being out on their own,” Krapfl said. “But she's an extremely hard worker and she wants to become a great player. And so we've been thrilled with how hard she's worked and far she's come since she got here.”
Wright — who dominated the 2A ranks in high school, winning the state title by 26 strokes as a senior and 28 as a junior — has steadily improved in her two seasons at Nebraska. In 25 rounds as a freshman, she posted an average score of 80.08, with a low round of 73. In 33 rounds as a sophomore, when she was a “solid No. 4” on the Cornhuskers' roster, Krapfl said, Wright shot a low round of 71 and posted an average score of 79.06.
She'll be expected as one of only two returning players her junior season to serve as one of the veteran leaders of the team, her coach said.
“She and Stephanie Niesen are the oldest players on the team with the most experience, so we're expecting more of a leadership role from Katelyn this year,” Krapfl said. “It's a young team, and so it's very important for her to become a leader and embrace that role.”
Wright said she has no specific goals in mind this coming season, other than carrying over the momentum of her summer of hard work.
“I struggled my freshman year and then I had a good spring season this last year and I'm having a pretty good summer, so I just want to go in and just do what I know I'm capable of doing and what my coaches know I'm capable of doing,” Wright said. “I just want to help the team and put us in a good position to go to Regionals and hopefully Nationals.”
An honor roll student for the Cornhuskers, Wright is double majoring in advertising and merchandising. But she hopes to not have to use either one as she pursues her longtime dream of playing golf for a living — which she believes is well within reach.
“Right now that's the plan,” Wright said. “I'm very realistic and everything, but I couldn't imagine not playing golf, and I know that I have the ability to do it. It's just a matter of getting out and playing and dedicating the time. But that's where I'm headed right now, so we'll see in a couple years.”