West Valley Preps
Millennium golf’s ‘M duo,” Madeline Laux and MiKayla Sgrillo do not check their competitive impulses at the door when they put on the purple and black.
At the same time both entered their senior season excited for the break high school golf represents. Both have spent years playing in statewide spring and summer tournaments — and even the occasional national invitational.
And both said they enjoy the camaraderie of a team in what is often the most individual, and lonely, of all sports.
“That’s what I like about high school the most. You’re on a team. At normal tournaments without a team, it’s more on you. But I like the whole team aspect,” Sgrillo said.
Coaching the Tigers’ girls team for her 10th year, Vicki Turrell strives for this group dynamic.In that vein, the team’s main opportunity to bond already took place in late August during the Nighthawk Invitational at Omni Tucson National Golf Resort.
“I’ve coached volleyball 30 years and I still coach volleyball. This is a unique sport in trying to create that team atmosphere as a coach. That was a struggle several years ago but I think we’re almost getting there,” Turrell said. “We do a tournament in Tucson to start off the year, and I take the whole team to spend the night — not just the ones who are going to compete. We try to create that atmosphere right off the bat. It’s a tough thing to do with golf.”
Of course, there is a competitive side benefit to this tourney. It is played on the resort’s Catalina Course on the first day and the Sonoran Course on the second.
Both Millennium seniors are expected to qualify for and be among the favorites in the Division II state championships Oct. 28-29 ... at the Sonoran Course.
Now if they only get to play both rounds.
Both girls qualified for and finished in the top 15 of the Division I championships as freshmen in 2016. But the second day was washed out.In 2018 the team dropped to Division II — and watched the same thing happen. After round one, Laux was tied for fourth, three shots behind the leader, and Sgrillo was tied for ninth.
“We also want two days of state this year. Storms limited state to one day in freshman and junior years,” Laux said. “Obviously the goal is to win state. But as a team, we just want to be closer than when it started.”
Millennium placed sixth in the Division II state competition.The top two finishers in Division II last year, Tucson Salpointe Catholic sophomore Mackenzie McRee and Tucson Catalina Foothills senior Maya Benita, are back this year.
Sgrillo said she is looking for a better approach.
“I want to have a better mental state and be stronger on the course,” Sgrillo said.
Both golfers were among the state’s best as freshmen and took different routes to get to that point. Sgrillo’s family played golf frequently and she gave it a try at age 8.
Laux first picked up clubs at age 4 but did not begin competition until she was 10. Golf is still far from the family sport.
“It’s just me and my grandpa,” Laux said.
Turrell said both came into the program with advanced games and wise approaches to the sport, through extensive junior golf play, particularly with the First Tee program. First Tee emphasizes character building and life skills.
And Turrell’s program is designed to prepare the girls for college, whether they keep playing the sport competitively or not.
“My whole focus has been that golf is not who we are. It is what we do. I want them to be able to separate. Golf is a lifetime sport but when you separate from that, who are you? That’s not all you are,” Turrell said.
Laux said this team is full of different personalities and it is like a big, happy family.
She also thinks her college choice, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas has a similar feel. Also, Laux said this university is ideal for her goals — study to become a special education teacher and minor in PGA management.
“I love the coach. I was actually kind of skeptical at first because it was so close to The Strip. But talking to the players and coaches that are there now, you realize that they don’t even go to The Strip. They go on-campus for weight training and the person they use for weight training is actually a professional golf. They’re already in the professional state that I want to get to.”
Turrell said both girls are ready for college academics, as well as college golf.
Sgrillo has not decided her future home yet. But she is seriously thinking of staying close to home.
“I’ve been looking at Ottawa University. I really like coach Tina Barrett. She’s so nice. When I first visited, it felt like a little town, like everybody knew everybody,” Sgrillo said. “I want to go there for a scholarship in golf but I want to major as an athletic trainer.”