Wolfpack Golfers Emerge with State Crown

Led by Sam Engellent’s runner-up finish, the Glacier boys brought home the program’s first golf title in more than a decade

By Micah Drew
Glacier's Sam Engellant and Torren Murray bump fists on the fairway during the final day of the 2023 State AA Golf Tournament at Lake Hills in Billings on Friday, Sept. 29. Amy Lynn Nelson, Billings Gazette/406mtsports.com

For the second year in a row, a Glacier Wolfpack golfer was only a putt away from winning an outright state title. Junior Sam Engellant, who last year sat out the golf season, instead serving as team manager while recovering from a surgery for a spinal fluid leak, ended the two-day Class AA state tournament on Sept. 29 tied for first with Billings Skyview senior Tye Boone.

Engellant shot a 70 on day one of the tournament to emerge as the Class AA leader, but Boone made up a four-stroke deficit on day two to give each golfer a final score of 142.

The first playoff on the ninth hole saw dual bogeys, so the golfers went off to hole 18. With each ball just a putt from the hole, Boone sank his while Engellant’s lipped out.

“Honestly, the fact that I got into the playoff, I was beyond proud of myself so just being there was extremely special and rewarding,” Engellant told 406mtsports.com after the tournament, reflecting on how far he’d come since last year’s surgery. “After a hole of the playoff, all the pressure just kind of melted because it was like ‘I’ve come this far, even if I screw up and make some mistake, I’m still going to be extremely happy about how I’ve played.’”

Glacier’s Sam Engellant makes his way down the fairway during the final day of the 2023 State AA Golf Tournament at Lake Hills in Billings on Friday, Sept. 29. Amy Lynn Nelson, Billings Gazette/406mtsports.com

As an added pressure relief, the team title wasn’t resting on the outcome of the playoff — the Wolfpack had finished the first day with a five-stroke lead and held off a strong charging Sentinel on day two to secure the program’s first championship since 2012.

Behind Engellant’s runner-up finish, the Wolfpack golfers all had all-state finishes. Freshman Torren Murray was fourth, junior Tanyon Murray was sixth and junior Trevor Cunningham was 10th.

The team title came after three years of podium finishes — third in 2020, second in 2021 and 2022 — and just two years into the tenure of head coach Chris Michno.

The Kalispell Glacier boys won the AA boys golf tournament for the first time since 2012 Sept. 29, 2023 in Billings at Lake Hills Golf. Lindsay Rossmiller, 406mtsports.com

“This year, we achieved the ultimate goal,” Michno said. “I had high expectations for this team from the first event. I’ve known most of these kids for years, I know their talent level, but I also know that doesn’t automatically translate into victory. You still have to shoot the scores.”

With the graduation of last year’s runner-up, Tyler Avery, returning Engellant to the green was a huge low stick in the bag for the Wolfpack.

“It was just amazing to see Sam come back after his injury, and then to see him on the cusp of becoming a state champion, that was amazing,” said junior Tanyon Murray.

Since last year’s second-place team finish, Murray said all his teammates talked about what could be done to top the podium this year. From spending hours on the simulators over the winter to having strong spring and summer tournament showings, each player put in the work to enter the season “strong and confident across the board.”

“We knew what we could do,” Murray said.

As a bonus for him, his younger brother Torren joined the team as a freshman, adding an extra element of “brotherly love and competition” to the squad.

“We’ve always had great experiences playing together, and we really take our connection to heart and can play off each other,” Murray said. “It’s great to have him by my side.”

Glacier’s Torren Murray prepares to putt during the final day of the 2023 State AA Golf Tournament at Lake Hills in Billings on Friday, Sept. 29. Amy Lynn Nelson, Billings Gazette/406mtsports.com

While the Wolfpack had a strong season start to finish, there were still some ruts to overcome, including the team’s only loss of the year at the Divisional tournament, which Michno said was an “eye-opener.”

“It’s a process. No one’s going to give you a trophy — they’re all trying to take it away from you,” Michno said. “What I kept harping on was that they had the ability and talent to win, they’d done it in the past. Just because a tournament like State has another name, it’s still just a tournament. It’s 18 holes of golf over two days. I told them they’ve got the talent, now just golf!”

Only one week removed from receiving the state trophy, Michno and his players were already thinking about next year and the expectations already falling into place with a full team of returning golfers.    

“All four of us are really top players in the state and we’re looking strong to go back-to-back,” Murray said. “Sentinel and some of the other top schools all lost core players and we keep everyone. But the level of golf in the state is so high we know that Sentinel and others will be with us in every tournament. But we’re looking very strong, and we already know we want it again.”

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.