By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
St. Michael-Albertville head coach Mitch Harmoning knew he was returning an all-conference girls golfer to this year’s squad. What he didn’t know was he would finish the year with two Mississippi 8 All-Conference golfers as senior’s Kylie Slavin – a repeat winner – and newcomer Prisca Engelmann each were honored.
“Kylie had made it before,” Harmoning said. “But Prisca came out of nowhere. Being a foreign exchange student from Germany, we didn’t know what to expect at the beginning of the year. She’s played some real solid golf and has been a nice surprise.”
Both Engelmann and Slavin helped pave the way for a second consecutive year an STMA third-place finish in the Mississippi 8 conference standings.
While Slavin may consider a No. 6 position in the conference rankings a bit of a disappointment, Engelmann said she was caught off guard a bit when she snuck in as the ninth and final member of the all-conference team.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Engelmann, who is a native of Oberursel, Germany – a small suburb about 10 minutes from Frankfurt. “I didn’t think I would make it that far. I didn’t set any goals in the beginning. The beginning is always hard.
“But the girls on the team were so nice and tried to explain to me how everything works. I think they had the most fun trying to learn German from me.”
Led by Slavin and senior’s Megan Cichos and Maddie Malone, Engelmann found herself on the junior varsity squad early on as sophomore’s Kate Drimel, Karli Buckmeier and Lucy Arndt rounded out the top 6 in the team’s opening couple meets.
It wasn’t until the conference meets when Engelmann finally cracked the varsity lineup for good. A solid showing on May 2 at Riverwood National had Engelmann finish as one of the top-4 scores on the Knights.
Since that day, she recalls a shot that didn’t officially count, but will forever be circled on her calendar after sinking a hole-in-one during a practice round session at Grand National in Hinckley.
“I was with Slavin and Drimel and it was really exciting to get this hole-in-one,” said Engelmann, who used a 9-iron on the 135-yard, 12th hole. “Both started screaming, ‘Oh my gosh, you just got a hole-in-one!’ It was such an awesome feeling when I found the ball in the cup. I couldn’t believe it.”
Engelmann and the Knights returned to Hinckley earlier this week for the start of the Section 7AAA tournament (results next week).
Fresh off a third-place finish, Harmoning is hoping a few days off leading up to the opening round held on May 27 will be the recipe for success.
“Kate’s been struggling a bit in the sand and Kylie has been battling through some tendinitis in her thumb/wrist area,” said Harmoning, who also landed two all-conference honorable mention players in Drimel and Malone. “Kylie’s been a trooper and battled through it. For me as a coach, I’ve probably made it more of an excuse than she has.”
Slavin shot an uncharacteristic 93 at the final conference meet at Wild Marsh in Buffalo. Engelmann paved the way with a team low 90 and Malone was second with a 91. Drimel (96), Buckmeier (101) and Cichos (103) rounded out the field for the Knights.