By Jeremy Holaday
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
The international influence has played a big part in K-State’s lineup over the last two years and this season’s team proves to be no different.
Laura Hildenbrandt, Hanna Roos and Ami Storey all bring talent from international borders to this year’s team. During the fall, Roos and Storey competed in eight events and each collected a top-15 finish.
The demand for international players has grown tremendously and head coach Kristi Knight has recognized that trend. “Today in women’s golf, I think you have to recruit internationally,” Knight said. “If not, you are disregarding a significant portion of the talent pool. You can either play with them or against them.”
A native of Woodlands Park, United Kingdom, Storey made her mark at K-State early in her career. The sophomore has registered three top-20 finishes, her best coming last fall at the Price’s Give’em Five Intercollegiate when she tied for 14th. Her success at K-State was carried over from her success in the UK where she was a junior country match and stroke play champion from 2004-06 and a match play champion again in 2008.
In addition, she was the 2006 Britian County Champion, which made her the youngest winner in the tournament’s 75-year history. Perhaps the most prestigious finish of her career came at last season’s Big 12 Championship where she finished in a tie for 20th, helping the team to a fourth place finish in the conference.
Roos didn’t waste anytime making an impact in K-State’s lineup as she led the Wildcats in the season’s second event with a seventh-place finish in the Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational. Roos continued to lead the Wildcats in the Johnie Imes Intercollegiate when she shot a 54-hole score of 237 (+21). Roos came to the United States from Uppsala, Sweden, where she participated in the Skandia Tour Elite, the highest level for junior golfers in Sweden. The Swede ranked first in the Order of Merit on the 2008 Upland Tour and helped the Uppsala Golf Club’s junior team to a fourth-place ranking out of 323 teams in Sweden. Hanna’s sister, Maria, also plays golf at Mississippi State.
Coming from the neighbor to the north, Hildenbrandt competed in all five fall tournaments of her freshman year. The Canadian carded the best finish thus far in her career at the Marilynn Smith/Sunflower Invitational where she tied for 20th. Hildenbrandt was unable to compete in the following spring due to injury and has chosen to use her redshirt year this season.
In Canada, Hildenbrandt won over 40 individual, team and tour victories and set two different course records when she was 14. Hildenbrandt was a 2005 Bronze medalist as a member of the GOA Team Ontario at the RCGA Canadian Jr. Girls Championship. As a senior at Ancaster High School, she won four individual championships.
The playing season in America is much longer than Storey, Roos and Hildenbrandt are used to from back home. That, combined with another large incentive makes the decision to come to America much easier.
“Our system of college athletics is unique,” said Knight. “There is really nothing like it. Ami, Laura and Hanna all wanted the opportunity to get a good education, develop their game and compete at a high level. K-State gives them that opportunity.”
The change in food, language, customs and television are just some of the challenges that International players face. They have a lot to understand and adjust to but their American born teammates do everything they can to make it easier.
“It also gives the American born players insight into another country and culture,” said Knight. “Our team loves food and most like to cook. Ami, Laura and Hanna have all shared food items from their native countries. The Swedish chocolate bars are pretty darn good.”