Frei and Lemek: Leaders on and off the links

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ALEX ELLER
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After a great start to the 2020 season, the UNK golf team looked to improve behind the leadership of seniors Mikayla Frei and Brandi Lemek. Tragically the team and the senior’s opportunity to compete this spring was cut short by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It was hard,” said Frei. “I knew school wise I had the most relaxed semester I was going to have in college, and I had been hitting the ball well. I thought individually I would be able to help my team this spring. As a team, we had a chance to do some special things so that made it hurt that much more.”

At the first and only meet this year both helped the team to a second-place finish at the SMSU Spring Invitational in Arizona. Lemek finished inside the top ten shooting ten over par and Frei finished 21 over par.

Having such a strong start and having it all taken away has been hard for the two upperclassmen.

“It was devastating for me,” said Lemek. “The hardest part was not being able to finish my senior year strong and play some great golf with even better golfers and teammates. The potential that we had that we now cannot display is heartbreaking, especially with all the hard work we have all put into pre-season practice and training.”

Looking back on Frei and Lemek careers it is been filled with many different accolades along the way.

Frei came to UNK from St. George in the state of Utah. In high school, she helped Dixie finish in the top six at the state tournament three times. Her best finish at the state tournament was fifth place in 2015.

For the Lopers she was a three-time MIAA Academic Honor Roll student. Frei has an 85.44 average over 18 holes for her UNK career.

Frei’s fondest memory is the team’s trip to Arizona each year.

“Traveling,” Frei said. “We go to Arizona every year in the spring, and it is always a fun trip. We always have a bunch of family around and the whole team gets to go. There is always lots of laughter and memories that come from those trips.”

This May, Frei will graduate from UNK with a degree in Athletic Training and Psychology. She is not looking to use the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility at UNK and is still pondering what her next step is.

“I graduate this May so I will not be returning to UNK golf,” Frei said. “I do not know what the future holds but right now, I don’t know that I’ll use the extra year of eligibility anywhere.”

The other senior on the team Brandi Lemek comes from Doniphan, Ne. During her time at Doniphan-Trumbull, she established herself as one of the best golfers in the state. On three

different occasions, she was the Class C state runner-up, a four-time state qualifier, and led the Cardinals to a second-place finish in 2016.

Her success on the course continued at UNK, as she became one of the best players on the team. She has the second-lowest career stroke average in Loper history at 81.32 and has golfed 77 rounds which are fifth-most in team history.

For Lemek, the team became her home away from home.

“I really enjoyed being on the team and having a little family of my own on-campus that I knew would always be there for me,” Lemek said.

In the coming years, she looks to be a high school teacher and plans to spend her free time traveling.

“I plan on being a high school history teacher after student teaching,” Lemek said. “And possibly do some traveling once permitted again, it would be a dream.”

Lemek is also looking into potentially coming back and using her extra year of eligibility by the NCAA.

“If permitted and if I can work around some stuff, I will absolutely come back to finish my senior year,” Lemek said. “I would regret it if I didn’t.”

Even though their senior seasons did not end the way they expected them too, both players are thankful and happy for the opportunities that the UNK golf program gave them.

“I loved my time at UNK and with the golf team,” Frei said. “I’m very fortunate to have been able to play the sport I love in college. I wouldn’t change anything about the last four years, except to be able to finish.”