Cowgirls Golf Inks Three to Letters of Intent

From the desk of Harry Endicott

LARAMIE – Cowgirl head golf coach Josey Stender announced the signings of three future Wyoming golfers to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday. Signees Payson Birkeland, Morgan Ryan and Jessica Zapf will be joining the squad beginning in the fall of 2019.

“I am very excited to welcome Jessica, Morgan and Payson,” head coach Josey Stender said. “All three young ladies have fantastic work ethic and desire to succeed on the golf course and in the classroom. Without a doubt, all three bring a competitive drive and experience but what I’m most excited about is the tremendous upside for each of them.”  

Birkeland comes to Wyoming from Aladdin, Wyo., where she attended Belle Fourche High School. Birkeland was a four-sport athlete at Belle Fourche, as she competed in golf, volleyball, basketball and rodeo.

In 2018, she was the South Dakota Class A state individual champion and a Class A All-State team member, while leading her team to a 2018 Class A team title. Her team was also the 2018 Black Hills Conference Champion and Region 8 Champion. She holds the Belle Fourche Country Club 9-hole course record, and medaled at the Monument Open on the Rocky Mountain Junior Golf Tour.

Birkeland has proven herself a winner in other sports as well, leading her basketball team to a conference championship as well as the state tournament last season. In volleyball, she was a 2017 All-Conference selection, while leading her team to a conference title and state tournament appearance. In rodeo, she helped her team to 2016 and 2017 state titles and was named the 2018 River Region Rodeo Champion Breakaway Roper.

A standout off the course as well, Birkeland has been a member of National Honor Society for four years and has served on student council. Academically, she is a member of the ‘A’ Honor Roll, while also having been named to the Academic All-State team in volleyball.

Born in Phoenix, Ariz., to parents Clayton Birkeland and Melinda Birkeland, she hopes to major in Pre-Nursing at Wyoming. She is a triplet with two brothers: Cain and Riley.

Ryan signs with Wyoming after a successful career at Grandview High School in Aurora, Colo. She is set to be a four-time letterwinner in golf at Grandview, where she has racked up a number of individual and team accomplishments.

Ryan was an all-conference selection in the Centennial League in 2016, 2017 and 2018. She’s had an impressive year in 2018, taking second at the Colorado 5A State Championship following finishing with co-medalist honors at the 2018 5A Southern Regional. She was named First Team All-State in 2018, along with taking All-City honors as well.

She qualified for the US Girls Junior Amateur Championship in 2018. She has also qualified for the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Optimist International Junior Championship.

Ryan has been a high achiever in the classroom during her high school career, being named to the Academic All-State team and earning an academic letter both of the last two years.  She was a JGAC Academic All-Star in 2016, 2017 and 2018, while being named an AP Scholar and earning a spot on the Les Shwab Academic Team in 2018. She has been a participant in the Medical Careers Club the last three years and served as an elected officer in the Spanish Honors Society in 2018.

Born in Denver, Colo., to parents Wendy and Scott Ryan, Ryan has two sisters: Caroline and Lindsay. She is undecided on a major at Wyoming. 

Zapf is set to come to Wyoming from Windsor High School in Windsor, Colo. She is a four-year letterwinner in golf and academics at Windsor.

Zapf is a three-time All-Conference selection and two-time Regional Champion. She has also been named to the All-State team twice. She helped lead her team to a state title in 2016, before finishing fourth in 2017 and third in 2018. She is a two-time Colorado Optimist Champion with scores of 73 in both 2017 and 2018.

Her career low is 69 at Pelican Lakes Country Club in the 2017 Peterson Toyota Championship. She won the Valor Christian Invitational, shooting a 71 at Highlands Ranch in 2018, good for the school record.

Boasting a 4.04 GPA, Zapf was named Academic All-Conference in 2018 while being named to the Honor Roll. She is a member of National Honor Society and serves as vice president of the Future Business Leaders of America. She was an FBLA state qualifier in 2017 and 2018, and earned JGAC Academic All-Star status the last two years as well. 

Born in Fort Collins, Colo., to parents Mike and Alison Zapf, she intends to major in business finance at Wyoming. She has one brother: Evan.