SLEEPY EYE - Over the course of the last few years, the Tomahawk Conference girls golf tournaments has been dominated by the likes of Springfield's Tiana Runck and more recently Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart's Carly Schmalz.
With Schmalz graduating this past spring, there may be a new leader to take over the conference, and that's Sleepy Eye sophomore-to-be Lauren Laffen. Laffen finished second at the State Class A meet this past spring, not bad for a freshman. The poise and confidence she showed may surprise some people, but not Sleepy Eye coach Kaleb Walter.
Walter brought three girls from the Sleepy Eye program up to the state meet, but Laffen came back with the second place medal.
"I think the three girls that I had going up there, they all had similar averages," Walter said. "They averaged between 91-95 on the year I think, so any one of them was capable of playing well. But we had two [Curtis and Laffen] finished in the Top 10 in the state and that was a little bit more than what we expected. I'm sure that will give her some good goals to shoot for [for] the next few seasons."
Laffen is not a stranger to the state meet by any means. She was a member of the Sleepy Eye girls team that took third at state two years ago when she was just an eighth-grader. She also watched her brother compete at the state meet a couple of times, so she's quite familiar with the course.
"I think just quite a bit, just playing at the same venue and knowing what to expect, how the course is going to play and how the fans are going to be, what kind of nerves you're going to have, it definitely helped her to be ready," Walter said.
Laffen was named the 2013 All-Journal Girls Golfer of the Year after her strong finish at state. She's looking to make the state meet an annual event and it's quite possible she goes on a long run of accomplishments like Runck and Schmalz did in their careers.
"Tiana, she consistently made it to state and she was consistently in the Top 20 and Carly finished tied for sixth at state this year, Lauren is a second-place finisher and I'd like to think it could be like that every year for her," Walter said.?