IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Four years ago, as a 4-foot-11 freshman, Michael Seaman tried to keep up with the competition by mashing the ball with all of his might.
In baseball vernacular, he swung for the fences.
His inability — at the time — to drive a golf ball to faraway greens drove him a little batty.
“I’d hit the ball 200 yards, while the guys I went up against were hitting it 270, 280,” Seaman said.
Well, as they say, that was then. And this is now.
As a 6-foot senior, distance no longer is an issue for Seaman.
And there were absolutely no shortcomings with Seaman’s swing at the Class 3A state meet at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington on Oct. 13-14.
The Lake Forest High School golfer turned in a masterful performance on the biggest stage of the season, earning all-state honors with a seventh-place total (146) and helping the Scouts claim a second-place trophy.
“What a great way for him to end his high school career,” said LF head coach Jim Matheson, who watched his team finish two strokes in back of Hinsdale Central 593-595 and seven strokes in front of third-place Stevenson.
Seaman’s route to all-state recognition was hardly a gimme.
At the outset, things didn’t look particularly good for the LF golfer.
His front-nine score in Round One of the tournament was a pedestrian 41.
But Seaman stayed with it. And he eventually found his stairway to seven. He capped Day One with a 37 and then dazzled the fairways on Day Two with a 35 and a 33.
“He found his groove,” Matheson said of Seaman’s amazing progression. “He was hitting everything solidly. Nothing went crooked. He started to figure it out on [Friday’s] back nine.
“And I never questioned what he was doing out there,” the coach added. “I never thought, ‘Oh man, can he keep this up?’ ”
Seaman never lost his focus — despite his tough start. He had double bogeys on the sixth, seventh and 11th holes and sat in a tie for 38th place with five others after the first 18 holes.
“I was feeling something — even in the first round,” said Seaman. “My swing felt good. The best it’s felt in a while.
“By the second round, I felt like I was in control of my game,” he added. “Felt like I was right where I needed to be.”
By the time Round Two came around, Seaman truly was in a zone. He overcame a bogey on 2 and wound up with 12 pars and five birdies on the day. His 68 matched Stevenson junior Jackson Bussell, who went home with medalist honors (141).
“This feels pretty good,” said Seaman. “I went into the tournament thinking about how I can help the team. I wasn’t even thinking about individual placement.”
Seaman had LF’s fifth score at the Warren Sectional on Oct. 9. Thus, his skyrocket performance might have caught some off guard.
But not Matheson.
“All six of our guys are capable, but we needed someone to go low,” said Matheson. “And Michael was the one this time.”
In securing second place, the Scouts also received solid work from seniors Scott Frevert and Connor Polender and junior Danny Fisher.
Frevert just missed earning all-state honors with a 148 (tied for 12th). Polender came in with a 150 (tied for 18th), while Fisher had a two-day total of 151 (tied for 26th).
Sparked by the trio of Joey Harrigan, Bradley Goldstein and Max Golding, Highland Park made a run for a state trophy. The Giants shot a 605 for fourth place, a mere three strokes behind third-place Stevenson.
Harrigan, Goldstein and Golding shot 150s to share 18th place with five other players.
Senior Charlie Ezgur, who shot an eagle in Round Two, ended up with the team’s fourth score: 155.
Peter Radler turned in a stellar effort for Loyola Academy. The junior ended up with a 147 to earn all-state honors. He shot a 74 (37-37) on Day One and a 73 (34-39) on Day Two.
Senior Chip Savarie capped his high school career by carding a 36-hole total of 151, tying him for 26th place.
As a team, the Ramblers got off to a great start (2nd place after Day One) but wound up placing fifth (608).
LA’s other scorers were junior Jack Crawshaw (154) and senior Ben Scherman (156).
A strong finish made things interesting for New Trier.
The Trevians, who were sitting in ninth place after the first round, rallied to shoot a 300 on Day Two to end up sixth overall (613).
Senior Michael Tanaka came up with the team’s top finish (152, tied for 32nd).
Sophomore Daniel Tanaka shot a 153, while NT’s other scorers were seniors Will Nummy (154) and Max Weber (157). Senior Bennett Huber had a 158, while sophomore Brian Joseph added a 159.
Notable: Can you say, dynasty? Hinsdale Central now has won six straight Class 3A state titles. The future? That also looks pretty good for the Red Devils. Their top four finishers — junior Mac McClear (145, tied for 5th), junior Josh Lundmark (147, tied for 8th), sophomore Stewart Leigh (150, tied for 18th) and junior Gabe Larson (154, tied for 39th) — figure to return next season.