Rantapaa back on course
Former Golddigger now playing golf for Hardrockers
By Jeff Budlong, Journal staff | Wednesday, April 29, 2009
RAPID CITY — Most people that go to basketball games go for the game. Eric Glenn made one of his biggest discoveries once the players left the floor. Glenn, who is an assistant with the South Dakota School of Mines men’s basketball team, was watching the Hardrocker dance team when he saw Larissa Rantapaa. Rantapaa was a varsity golfer for Lead-Deadwood for six years, where the Golddiggers have turned state titles into an annual rite. Rantapaa was a key member in the ’Diggers first three state title teams beginning in 2004 — a string that has since grown to five in a row — as she finished fourth all three years.
“I was surprised to see her because I didn’t even know she had transferred here,” said Glenn, who is also the Mines’ head women’s golf coach. Rantapaa spent her first two years of college at South Dakota State before changing her major to chemical engineering, facilitating the move to Rapid City. “Coach Glenn just came up to me and asked me if I would be interested in playing for the team,” said Rantapaa, who had not played a competitive round of golf since high school when Glenn approached her. Rantapaa responded well when she got back on the course, leading an inexperienced ’Rocker team, finishing in a tie for 17th place at Meadowbrook Golf Course over a week ago. “I really didn’t know what to expect, but I have been spending a lot of time on the course and I think I did pretty well,” Rantapaa said. “I have been working on getting a good clean hit on the ball and my alignment so I can hit some more greens in regulation.” Rantapaa may still be trying to knock a little rust off her game, but with the Hardrockers playing host to the NAIA women’s national golf tournament in May, both Glenn and Rantapaa have high hopes for her play. “She’ll have about a month to work on her game and she will be playing on a course (Meadowbrook Golf Course) that she is familiar with,” Glenn said. “She should be able to do pretty well against the competition.” Rantapaa said that golf has always been a big part of her family and continues today in Lead with three Rantapaas on this year’s team, including a pair of Larissa’s cousins and her sister Jessie. “When I was little I used to go to the course with my grandpa,” Rantapaa said. “Both of my parents golf and it is kind of a family thing.” The most difficult thing for Rantapaa to deal with during an already short spring season has been the weather. Three blizzards and plenty of rain have made practice time and meets a rare thing for someone trying to get back into the swing of things. “It is really difficult trying to get everything in line,” she said. “We are just hoping to get the playing time pretty soon.” On a team of just five golfers, Rantapaa knows that she has to use her experience to be a leader, but that is difficult when getting the team together and play has been hampered because of weather. However, the national tournament experience could be key for a Hardrocker squad looking to improve its numbers. “When I decided to play I knew that we were going to host nationals and I thought that would be fun and something we could enjoy,” she said. It will be a showcase for her to show just how fast her game has rounded into form.
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Devereaux Library. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.