SE wants to make mark in Columbus

Seneca East has had its best season ever on the golf course. The Tigers went unbeaten through the Northern 10 Athletic Conference and made it to the state tournament this weekend for the first time.

But according to coach Brad Powers, the pressure is off.

“With the scores we’ve had throughout the year, we are capable of making this a competitive tournament, but all the pressure is off,” he said. “I want them to enjoy the experience. My son, Michael, who is the Wynford coach, missed out on the state tournament a couple years by one stroke, so getting to state is certainly a dream.

“I told them today that there are only 72 players in Division III playing golf still and we have five of them. Just take a deep breath and enjoy it. The only pressure this weekend is mine wanting them to play really well and up to their capabilities.”

The dream of state wasn’t just put together in the last few weeks of the season in postseason play. Powers said his team has been playing since the early summer working on their games and trying to get better.

“They just took off in the summer and that’s been their approach from the start,” he said. “We have a solid group of eight guys, but the top four all golf together, hung out together and they spent the summer working on their games. Early in the season they cared more about each others scores than their own.

“Throughout the season, it hasn’t just been one guy either. If one guy has a bad day or the three out of the four didn’t play that well, one of the four has picked them up. It’s been a great season and these are quality young men.”

Usually a team might have one or two top players who lead the scores every night. However, the Tigers are all so close together, it might be someone different every night.

Jake Forehand led the Tigers in scoring average in nine holes this season at 37.5, while Turner Bridgford (38.5), Andy Bauman (39.4) and Andrew Kalb (42.3) were close behind.

Seneca East took second (337) at sectionals at Valley View and fourth (349) at Stone Ridge at districts to qualify for state.

“This team came into the season with high goals,” Powers said. “We just want to finish on a strong note and put it all together one last time.

“They played smoothly all N10 season, struggled at sectional, didn’t have our best at districts, and both times I thought our season could end, which adds to the pressure. Now we’ve made school history, so I think the pressure is off for them to go out and play and have fun.”

The Tigers had a sendoff to Columbus Thursday with students and faculty attending in a joyous celebration. Then they got a practice round of 18 holes in. Powers said the course is in good condition, but the greens are pretty rough, which he admitted will be a challenge for everyone. The weather is predicted to be beautiful today, but Powers said they could face some conditions Saturday.

“For us to make it as a team … you can’t beat that,” he said. “This is my 34th year in coaching and I took a break and went into administration after seven years (1989-95). I knew Forehand, Kalb and Bridgford were good basketball players when they were in seventh grade. They sort of lit my fire for coaching again, along with Bauman, and it’s been a dream season for me as well on a personal level.

The Tigers will play at 9 a.m. today on the Ohio State University Scarlet Course.