Girls golf: Mallow, Knoop ready to compete among the best of the best at state
Detroit Lakes' McKenna Mallow and Hanna Knoop are headed to state to compete against the best Class 3A has to offer. Mallow, a senior, is fresh off of being named a finalist for the Ms. Minnesota Golf award. Knoop is looking to make a name for herself after an impressive second day at sections.
DETROIT LAKES – The Detroit Lakes girls golf team was one of the best in the state all season. However, the Lakers ran into the defending state champions at the Section 8-2A tournament.
Alexandria’s impressive second day at Headwaters Golf Club sent the Cardinals to state for the second straight season–leaving a young Detroit Lakes team on the outside looking in for the second time since the move to Class 3A.
“We didn’t make it to state as a team, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a really good team,” head coach Dustin Martin said. “You look at the scoring averages, and we had the third-best in the whole state. It just happens that Alexandria has the best. There’s nothing you can do there. They’re a really good team that played well enough to win on the second day. They earned it, that’s for sure.”
Alexandria came back from down seven strokes after day one to win the team title with a score of 649. However, two Lakers qualified individually. Senior McKenna Mallow and sophomore Hanna Knoop will play at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids June 14-15 with the hopes of cracking the all-state podium. It’s the second time the two will have played in a two-day event at Bunker Hills this season.
“I feel pretty good about it,” Knoop said of playing at Bunker Hills. “I know what the course is like. Having it mapped out should make it easier.”
In the week leading up to state, Mallow was named one of the eight finalists for Ms. Minnesota Golf. She joins Ellie Breuer of St. Michael-Albertville; Emma Davies of Eden Prairie; Madison Hicks of Chanhassen; Cora Larson of Alexandria; McKenna Mallow of Detroit Lakes; Isabella McCauley of Simley; Caroline Monty of Stillwater and Samantha Youngquist of Chaska.
At the 2021 state tournament, Mallow jumped from 21st to seventh place on day two, earning her an all-state selection.
“There’s been a lot of pressure the past few years. I don’t feel that anymore,” Mallow said. “It’s my senior year, and it’s the last time I get to do this. I just want to go out there and have fun, and I definitely want to do better than last year, especially after being named a finalist for Ms. Minnesota Golf. It’s already a good accomplishment, but I want to do better every time I’m there.”
Mallow qualified for state with a second-place score of 158 at sections. She was two strokes off the leader, Hannah Boraas from Alexandria, for the individual section title.
Mallow is wrapping up another storied Detroit Lakes high school golf career. Martin has watched her develop into a Division I athlete on and off the course.
“She wanted to make sure everyone was treated the same whether you were a junior or a seventh-grader,” Martin said of Mallow. “She did a great job of including everybody. She treats everybody the same. As a leader and a team captain, that’s what you want. As a coach, I want players that lead by example and vocally. She does both. I can’t ask for much more out of her.”
Next fall, Mallow will swing for the University of Northern Iowa. But first, she has one more meet carrying her Detroit Lakes bag.
“I’m so grateful for it,” Mallow said of the Detroit Lakes girls golf program. “It’s helped me get to where I am today and helped me get ready for college golf. I’m very excited for (college). It’s going to be different, but it’s a nice kind of different.”
Knoop is in a much different situation. With two more years left in the high school ranks, this state tournament is her chance to make a name for herself as one of the new leaders in a respected program.
“The cupboard is definitely not bare,” Martin said. “Laura (Syltie) and Hanna are going to be the leaders of the team as juniors. We have seventh and eighth graders this year who want to come back, and there will be some sixth graders who want their shot on varsity next year as seventh graders. They see what it’s all about, and they want to be part of the program.”
“There’s a bright future in Laker golf because everyone is so young, and there were so many PR’s this year,” Mallow said. “Everyone has gotten better as the season has gone on. Next year should be very fun to watch. Everyone works hard. I see all of them out on the golf course. They’re all going to play in summer golf tournaments, which helps a lot.”
At sections, Knoop was on the outside looking in after posting a day-one score of 88. She rebounded with a four-over-par 76 to claim one of the five individual state berths.
“Weather-wise, the wind played us tough,” Knoop said of the Section 8-3A championships. “I had a bad first day. Bringing it back on the second day was a challenge, but I’m glad I got it done. I was happy with the way I finished. I knew that anything could happen to anyone. I just went out there wanting to play my best and see what happens.”
“She was probably the most disappointed of any player after the first day because that’s not what she’s capable of,” Martin said. “I told her that if she shot anything in the 70’s on the second day, she’d be just fine for the team and individually. She’s becoming a great player and a leader on the team. McKenna is the captain, but she has to pass the baton to somebody else.”
It’s been three years since Knoop played at state.
“I think I’ve grown mentally,” Knoop said. “I’ve gotten stronger too, so that makes it easier, but the biggest difference is how I’m better mentally. I just want to go out there next week and have fun with those girls. It’s a lot of fun to play there, so I want to play my best.”
While a chance at team hardware will have to wait at least another year, Mallow and Knoop are looking forward to making next week memorable together.
“It’s more comforting than anything,” Knoop said on going to state with a teammate. “You have someone to talk to about everything because you’re doing the same thing. We’re just excited to see what we can do.