Heading into the 2017 season, it’s no surprise the Milton High girls golf team will have some lofty goals yet again.
Accomplishments from the 2016 Red Hawks included: finishing in the top four in every tournament it entered other than the WIAA Division 1 State Tournament; a 5-0 in Badger South Conference dual meet record and Badger Conference Tournament title for their second-straight overall conference crown; a WIAA regional title; a WIAA sectional title; and a sixth-place finish at the state tournament.
Milton has qualified for state seven out of the past eight years and has finished in the top six each of those seasons.
Head coach Kirk Wieland, who is also the MHS boys coach and took over the girls team last year for wife Andrea Wieland, said he learned in his first season that girls are far more emotional than guys.
“Sometimes the girls worry about way too many items that they can’t control, and in times it affects them the wrong way and it can lead to them not preforming to the best of their abilities,” Wieland said. “Our team was pretty solid but we have to improve on this for the upcoming season.”
Leah Foster, an all-Badger South player, was the Red Hawks’ lone loss to graduation from last year’s team. The squad returns two other all-conference players in senior Mia Seeman and junior Taylor Hakala.
Mia Seeman, who recently competed at a national Junior PGA event in Missouri and averaged a nine-hole score of 37.93 strokes, was also a first-team all-state selection by the Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin. Hakala was a third-team all-state player with an average of 39.93 strokes.
“Mia Seeman is finally in her senior year, and we will go as far as she can carry us,” Wieland said. “She has had an unbelievable summer and she wants so badly to complete for a state championship. Taylor Hakala will definitely be another huge key for us. She didn’t have as active as a summer tournament schedule but she’s ready for the season to begin and there is absolutely no reason she shouldn’t compete for state championship as well.
“I believe with Mia and Taylor we might have the best 1-2 combo in the state and if they play to their abilities, it will make us really solid.”
Milton also returns Mia’s sister, sophomore Claudia Seeman, and senior Holly Gunnink to the lineup. Claudia Seeman averaged just below a 45 for nine holes last year, while Gunnink was just under 50.
“I fully expect Claudia Seeman and Holly Gunnink to be huge contributors but after them, we have holes at the tail end of our team and we need someone to step up,” Wieland said.
As for team goals, Wieland said he doesn’t really have any other than expecting the team to compete at the highest level.
“We hopefully will be playing extremely well come tournament time,” Wieland said. “That’s all I can ask of them. Golf is so hard, but is far easier to have success as a team. I will make sure our girls know that.
“We have great individuals on our team and our chemistry has been and will continue to be strong.”
Last year, it was Oregon that gave Milton the most competition as the Panthers placed second at the conference tournament. Adding Watertown to the conference will provide a new dimension, but Wieland said he isn’t sure who will be the Red Hawks’ top competition. He added that with golf, it doesn’t matter.
“If we play to our abilities, we will be fine and go a long way,” Wieland said. “We have a different sectional this year and it will be significantly more difficult than years past. We have had great teams the last few years but it has also helped that our regionals and sectionals have been extremely weak. This has given us great opportunities to advance but this year our sectional is far more difficult and we will have to play far better.”
Milton’s regional tournament will be hosted by Janesville Craig, but the sectional will be hosted by Mukwonago and include many Waukesha-area teams.
The Red Hawks, the No. 3-ranked team in the preseason GCAOWI rankings, open their season on Thursday with an invite at Edelweiss Chalet Country Club in New Glarus. They also play at WPGA/Madison Edgewood Invite at Yahara Hills Golf Course on Friday and host Edgewood for their first league match of the year at 9 a.m. on Monday at Oak Ridge Golf Course.
“I’m excited for the season and it will be enjoyable to watch Mia navigate through her senior season,” Wieland said of the South Dakota State commit. “Any achievement she gets is well deserved as I have not seen a golfer put in the time and practice that she has.
“The best thing for Mia will be for Taylor to play at her highest level and push her all season long.”