One year removed of having the state champion, the Milton girls golf team finished in the top 10 — taking eighth with a two-round score of 702 — with Taylor Hakala finishing in ninth overall, shooting 157.
Shooting a round of 360 on Monday, the Red Hawks finished the opening day in ninth place. Head coach Ashton Stair said that the team as a whole was disappointed with play on Monday.
“After the first day, we were a little disappointed because we knew we could have scored a lot better,” she said. “We had a lot of success during our tournaments that led up to state, which was awesome, but we lost some of that momentum going into the final tournament.”
“I think the nerves and pressure of being at the state tournament got to us,” head coach Brady Farnsworth said. “It took a while for our girls to settle in and be comfortable in their swings. This was difficult for us as some of the more experienced teams didn’t have to battle that as much as we had to and were able to get off to a better start early on.”
Hakala led for Milton, shooting 82 — 40 on the back nine, where the Red Hawks started, and 42 on the front. Claudia Seeman shot 87, shooting 45 on the back before finishing strong to shoot 42 on the front. Grace Weiss finished with 94, Callie Hakala with 97 and Reagan Moisson with 98 to keep all of the Red Hawks under triple digits.
“It’s always good to see everybody in our lineup avoiding scoring in the triple digits, especially at a course like University Ridge,” Farnsworth said. “That is one big reason we have been such a strong team all year and why we are where we are. Each of the girls have such high potential and do such a good job of posting solid scores.”
Stair said that the team took some unnecaasry chances on the first day of play, resulting in a higher score than expected.
“Course management is always important, and I think we gave a lot of strokes away in that aspect by taking some risky shots on holes rather than playing it safe at times,” she said. “But we learned from our mistakes and managed the course much better Tuesday.”
All five Red Hawks improved their scores for the second day, with the team shooting 342. Only the top four teams shot lower on Tuesday.
“I was really proud of how they all turned it around on Tuesday, though, and each improved their score and overall positivity,” Stair said.
“As we struggled on day one as a team, I think it calmed our nerves going into day two with little expectations,” Farnsworth said. “This helped our girls in being comfortable to just go have fun and play golf.”
Hakala led with a 75 — 38 on the front and 37 on the back — while Seeman shot an 40 on the front and 41 on the back to finish with a round of 81. Weiss finished four strokes ahead of her Monday score with a 91 (44 and 47), while Moisson shot 95 (44 and 51) and Callie Hakala finished with a round of 96 (47 and 49).
Being their fifth consecutive trip to the state meet, experience favored both Taylor Hakala, a senior, and Seeman, a junior.
“It’s always beneficial to have teammates who have had experience playing in the state tournament,” Stair said. “They are able to offer advice and encouragement, as they have once been in their younger teammates’ positions. Advice and encouragement mean so much more when it comes from someone who has been in their shoes. Taylor and Claudia have been role models and leaders both on and off the course throughout this season, and our team was lucky to have them.”
“The other girls really look up to both of them and they helped our younger girls in sharing their experiences and helping them understand how to be more mentally strong on the golf course,” Farnsworth said.
Seeman said that playing at University Ridge not only helped her, but her teammates as well.
“Having played at University Ridge has helped me because I knew what to expect and it helped me control my nerves,” she said. “I used this to try to not make my other teammates nervous and to try to give them advice on different holes.”
Seeman, whose older sister Mia won the individual title last year, said her sister’s success didn’t add pressure to her this season.
“I definitely used it as motivation, I have always looked up to her,” she said.
Both coaches saw the improvement on day two as a springboard for next season.
“On day two, we were able to improve our score as a team, which is a confidence booster for our girls going into next year,” Farnsworth said. “The girls were able to go out there and have fun and just play golf and it was enjoyable to see how much they enjoyed golfing on day two of the tournament. We are so proud of our girls and all they accomplished this season.”
“We went out and played like we had nothing to lose and were able to make up a little ground,” Stair said. “If we each knocked a stroke or two off our scores, we easily could have been in the top five. It just gives us motivation and new goals to reach for next year.”
The Red Hawks will lose Taylor Hakala for next season, a leadership role that Stair said will be missed.
“We will greatly miss Taylor’s leadership and consistency on the course, and we know she will do great things in the future. But I’m excited that we will have so many returners next year with varsity experience and I hope to build on this season’s successes.”
“We couldn’t be more proud of Taylor and cannot simply thank her enough for all the work and dedication she has put into this program,” Farnsworth added. “She has accomplished so much in her four year career as a golfer here in Milton. We wish her nothing but the best in all of her future endeavors and will miss her greatly.”