Athlete of the week: McKaila Granning, Elk River, golf: Midas touch
by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
McKaila Granning seems to have the Midas touch. Gold medals and championships just keep following her around.
In seven varsity seasons at ERHS, Granning has collected six Northwest Suburban Conference team titles – three each in tennis and golf. And although never the star of a team, she has made all-conference in all six of those seasons.
Granning also has been part of three section championship lineups in tennis and one more in golf. The state golf tournament June 14-15 will be her fifth state meet, counting last year when she qualified individually.
“I jfeel like I’ve been really lucky to be part of all those teams,” reflects Granning, a 5-foot-5, 128-pound athlete with a sunny disposition. “It has been a lot of fun and it’s really sad that it’s almost over. The teammates I’ve had, the coaches I’ve had, it has been a real privilege.”
Granning has played in a state championship match, in tennis her sophomore year when she lost at 3-singles and the team fell to dynastic Edina 6-1. That runner-up trophy marked the highest-ever finish in the outstanding program.
“My top thrills have been placing second in the state in tennis, getting the chance to play doubles with Rachel Janc, one of my best friends, last fall, and making state in golf last year,” said Granning after the conference meet May 27. “I just wish we could have gone as a team. That’s the goal this year.” Her wish came true Thursday with the Elks winning Section 7AA.
Granning started three years in tennis, playing mostly No. 3 and No. 2 doubles. She was 30-4 as a senior, mostly with Janc, and had 74 career wins.
“What I liked most about McKaila was her fearless, aggressive style,” said her coach, Blake Iserman. “She got right on top of the net and had a power game, which had one-doubles written all over it. I called her the ‘monster at the net’. I held her up as an example to the other girls, this is how we want you to play. And she never broke down, never got hurt.”
In golf, Granning made “state” (along with Sadiie Martin) individually last year and placed 27th among 88 qualifiers with 82-89-171. A week earlier, she shot a career-best 73 in the first round of sectionals. A four-year starter, she averaged in the mid 80’s last year, her best season, placing third in conference points and third in the section meet. She’s slipped back a few strokes this year, struggling with her grip. Her season-best has been 84.
“McKayla has her ups and downs, but her score counts almost every time,” said coach Dave Bleyhl. “She is a powerful player. She can drive the ball long.”
Granning started golf in early grade school because her dad was and still is a devoted player.
Still, the first time she went out for the Elks, in seventh grade, she found she “absolutely hated it,” and didn’t go back out in eighth grade. However, that summer she broke 90 for the first time, playing with her dad.
“So then I thought, OK, maybe I’ll give this another try.”
The Elks are glad she did.
THE GRANING SCORECARD
Personal file – Age: 18 … Family: parents Patty and Paul; sister Kelsey, 26; brother Kyle, 23 … Sports: tennis, golf …. Other activities: Link crew, formerly DECA and Spanish Club …. Academics: 3.75 GPA … Colleges: Arizona State, major undecided
Favorite stuff – Class: advanced public speaking … TV show: “Glee” … Movie: “The Hangover” … Food: Noodles & Co. fare … Drink: carmelite coffer at Dunn Brothers … Athlete: golfer Adam Scott … Place she’d like to visit: “Australia but I want to travel out of the country a lot and go a lot of places.”