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Jackson golfer Harper Ready to continue career at Southern Indiana

Jackson senior golfer Harper Ready signed a national letter of intent with Indiana State on Feb. 8. Photo by Jay Forness

Back in the fall, Jackson senior Harper Ready helped the Indians girls golf program bring home its third state final four plaque over the last five seasons.

This led Ready to become the second Jackson girls golfer from the 2024 class to sign with a Division-I program. The first was fellow senior Alana Gilbert, who signed with Indiana State back in November.

Coincidentally, Harper is going to play college golf in the same state as Gilbert as she inked with Southern Indiana earlier this  month.

“The school is really great — it has a great community and the campus is beautiful,” Ready said. “The coach is great, too — I love the team and the girls on the team. I’m just so excited about the next four years.

“It was a shock — I never really thought I could play at this level. I was just super excited and jumped at the opportunity because I never would’ve thought I would’ve gotten it, but I’m super grateful to get this opportunity.”

Ready recorded the third-best individual score for Jackson in this year’s Class 4 State Tournament, where the Indians placed fourth overall with a team score of 679. Harper produced a two-day, 18-hole score of 177 (93 on day one, 84 day two) to place in the top 50 at 47th.

Gilbert finished in the top 20 with a 19th-place finish as she produced a final score of 162 (75, 87). Jackson sophomore Julia Schlitt, who will more than likely be a D-I golfer in the future as well, took 27th place by shooting a 164 (82, 82).

“[Winning a state trophy] was very important to me because we had gone to state before,” Ready said. “We went my junior year, but we didn’t place, so to be able to place my senior year was really great. We may not have played the best the first day, but we all came back that second day and tried our best.”

By signing with Southern Indiana, Ready joins an elite group of Jackson golfers who have gone on to play at the D-I level, following in the footsteps of all-staters Kaydi Rhodes (Tennessee Tech) and Ella Overstreet (Southern Illinois).

“It’s really big for me because this has always been a big dream of mine,” Ready said. “To be able to do it after so many of my other teammates have done it is really great. I never would’ve thought I could do something like this and play at this next level, so it’s really important to me.”

Ready is excited to continue her playing career in Indiana with Gilbert since they’ve known each other since fourth grade. Even though the campuses are a little over two hours a part, Harper knows they will certainly have plenty of contact.

“We’ve grown up together and been best friends and have always golfed together,” Ready said. “Being able to go D-I in the same state and maybe compete against each other is just such a cool thing.”

Harper said her mental game has grown significantly over her high school career. Ready said it’s much easier for her to “keep her cool” now compared to when she was younger.

“When I was younger, obviously I wasn’t very good at staying calm on the course,” she laughed. “Now I can definitely say I can, thanks to all the help of my coaches and friends on the team. We’ve all grown together and helped each other fundamentally.”

Ready started playing golf when her grandparents first bought clubs for her on her eighth birthday. Golf has always been a big part of Harper’s life since she’d play with them and her father growing up.

Harper began competitive golf when she was 12 and first learned Jackson had a girls golf program in junior high, even becoming one of the team’s managers.

“I saw the program begin kind of from the very beginning,” Ready said. “We’ve gone through a couple coaches, and they’ve all been fantastic and instrumental in my growth. I just think it’s great to see how big the program has gotten, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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