Lightning struck at Thunder Basin High School twice last week when two Bolts seniors signed National Letters of Intent to play golf in college.
Karissa Tranas signed with Montana State University-Billings while Maria Farnum inked her deal with the University of Wyoming.
While both golfers are excited to continue their careers at the next level, Tranas and Farnum credited their coaches and teammates at TBHS for their success on the links.
Farnum becomes a Cowboy
Through her four years on the varsity golf team at Thunder Basin, Farnum was a three-time all-conference selection. She won the individual Class 4A state title as a junior and was a back-to-back East Conference champion in 2018 and 2019.
At this year’s state tournament, Farnum finished tied for second place with a two-day total of 154 at Three Crowns Golf Course in Casper. The Bolts as a team won the state title for the second year in a row.
Farnum also made the girls Junior America’s Cup Team in 2019 and represented Wyoming alongside the other top-three golfers in the state. Farnum and her Thunder Basin teammates played in the National High School Invitational Golf Tournament in August in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
During her senior season, Farnum carried a 77.7-stroke average throughout tournament play.
While Farnum has had a decorated career at Thunder Basin, it wasn’t until her junior year that a dream of playing college golf in her home state started to become realistic.
“I had just won state and our team had just won state and I was thinking to myself, ‘Maybe I have a shot to go somewhere big for golf,’” Farnum said.
A year later, Farnum signed the paperwork that officially made her a Cowboy and a Division I student-athlete.
Tranas signs with Yellowjackets
Tranas didn’t start taking competitive golf seriously until the summer of her eighth-grade year. Even then, playing golf college seemed like some far off fantasy.
After four golf seasons at Thunder Basin, Tranas’ fantasy quickly became a reality.
Tranas was a big part of both state championship teams for the Bolts and was also named all-state twice. At this year’s state tournament, Tranas placed ninth with a two-day score of 172.
Tranas had several schools to choose from, but signed with MSUB. Tranas chose the Yellowjackets over the University of Jamestown, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and Rocky Mountain College.
“Billings had more opportunities than the other colleges,” Tranas said. “They’d go out and travel further and go to better locations.”
Leading by example
For TBHS coach Kameron Hunter, his excitement was particularly noteworthy as Farnum and Tranas were the first players of his coaching career to sign to play college golf. Hunter started coaching golf at Thunder Basin when the school opened in 2017, when Farnum and Tranas were freshmen.
Hunter remembers the pair entering the program averaging somewhere in the high 90s on their scorecards. Now, both golfers often shoot in the low 70s with ease.
“For them to shave off 20 strokes in a matter of three or four years, that’s pretty incredible,” Hunter said. “It’s all the work that they’ve put in every summer for the last three summers. They just lived out on the golf course, and it’s definitely paid off.”
Farnum and Tranas were both successful individually at Thunder Basin, but Hunter said they made his job much easier in leading the underclassmen by example. Since becoming two of the first female golfers to participate at Thunder Basin, Hunter said Farnum and Tranas have set the tone for a winning culture at TBHS.
A big decision a high school golfer has to make is if she wants to play for fun or competitively, Hunter said. To be as successful as Farnum and Tranas have been requires consistent practice.
“They are both role models and have shown what it takes to be successful at that level,” Hunter said. “It’s kind of carried onto the younger golfers because they’ve all been around it and have seen it. The expectation is there and they know they have to get out and play.”
While UW and MSUB are in different divisions at the collegiate level, there could come a time where they’re on the same leaderboard of a tournament in college.
If that played out, Hunter said it would be nothing but business for the former Bolts teammates.
“They’re probably two of the most competitive players in my program,” Hunter said. “It doesn’t matter who they’re playing against, they just want to win.”