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Millennium eyes state title with strong returning group

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The Millennium girls golf team plays September 11 at Legend Golf Resort in Glendale against Anthem Boulder Creek and Glendale Mountain Ridge. Millennium’s team is, top row from left, Mikayla Sgrillo, Ashley Hill, Milan Wadley and Maddie Laux. Bottom row, from left, are Caitlyn Schmidt, Carly Strole, Bre Prochko and Abbie Werner. (West Valley View photo by Tim Sealy)

By Casey Pritchard

The Millennium girls golf team had its shot at a state title denied by inclement weather in last year’s Division I tournament. With a strong crop of returning players, the Lady Tigers are ready to give it another chance.

Four of the five players who competed at the 2016 state tournament are back, and all four finished in the top 13 individuals at state. All four might have finished even higher had rain and lightning not washed away the remainder of the second day of competition. Millennium’s players started their round and were playing well, but once the rains hit, the tournament was halted and final standings reverted to the first day of competition.

“It was terrible,” said Millennium coach Vicki Turrell of the weather November 3 at Aguila Golf Course in Laveen. “Most people still get in two days, even if you have to go back the next day, and I think if that happens again, I’ll fight for that, because it changed some of my girls from the top 10.”

Millennium’s players were scoring well at the start of their second round, but because not everybody was able to complete 18 holes, nothing counted.

“The second day was going better for them, and they were in the top 10, then they went back to everything from the first day, so it moved some kids around,” Turrell said.

She described the storm as having multiple lightning strikes and slanted rain.

“Everybody just wanted to be done,” Turrell said. “I would probably fight for my girls and say we need to come back, or we should wait it out, whatever we needed to do to finish it out. Who knows what could have happened? Golf can change pretty quickly.”

Despite the tournament ending prematurely amidst the Lady Tigers’ strong Day 2 start, Millennium finished third as a team. Ava Smith, who is now a junior, tied for eighth by shooting 77. Madeleine Laux shot 77, too. Smith is no longer on the team.

Mikayla Sgrillo and Carly Strole both shot 79 to tie for 13th place. They are both sophomores. All told, Millennium had five players at state last year, three freshmen and two sophomores. One of the state contenders did not return this year, but Turrell has a senior, Ashley Hill, who’s played all four seasons at Millennium and will be in the top five this year.

Playing at No. 1 for the Lady Tigers is Laux, but the top four are so strong that there’s always a battle for that spot, Turrell said. In fact, she’s going to play different girls at No. 1 all season so they all get the feel of competing against strong opponents.

“You sometimes play better when you’re playing with the 1, 2 and 3s, so I want to give them all the opportunity to be in those spots and play with better golfers,” Turrell said.

Millennium’s season is underway, and the Lady Tigers had a sneak preview of the state tournament course August 25 and August 26 while playing in the Nighthawk Invitational. The event, which is hosted by Tucson Ironwood Ridge, was played at Omni Tucson National, which is the same place the state tournament will be this year.

“I think it’s huge,” Turrell said of getting to play the state tournament course prior to state. “If you know a little bit of the layout, it always helps to know the next shot, or what you did last time maybe didn’t work as well. Because they don’t get like the pros do where they get to have a practice round before they play. We don’t get that opportunity, so it’s nice to always see as much as you can and be out there on the course.”

Turrell said a couple of her players have already played Omni Tucson National before during junior golf, but this will give everyone on the team an opportunity to see the course.

“Some of my kids write notes, some of them just do mental notes,” Turrell said. “A majority of them reflect on their round after the round.”

Turrell said she hopes the experience will pay dividends come state tournament time. She even scheduled matches against tough schools in the division to allow her girls to face some of the better players in the state.

“We’ll see Phoenix Xavier and Chandler Hamilton,” Turrell said. “That’s nice as well so my kids aren’t nervous when we see them (at state).”

The state tournament is October 30 and October 31. Millennium’s next match is September 11 at Legend Golf Resort at Arrowhead in Glendale.

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