Milton girls golf coach Kirk Wieland knows opportunities like these don’t come along often.
The school’s program is no stranger to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament, which tees off today for 36 holes of action at University Ridge Golf Course. By making its seventh state trip in the past eight seasons, Milton players not only know the place, they know the grounds crew and golf staff.
Despite all those previous trips, the Red Hawks have yet to bring home the championship — though they have two runner-up finishes (2010 and 2011) and a third-place showing (2015) on their resume.
Is 2017 the year the Red Hawks break through? Wieland figures his lineup has the star power to give it a great shot.
“We’ve got two (NCAA Division I) golfers on our team,” said Wieland, himself a four-time letterwinner at the University of Wisconsin and the husband of Andrea Wieland, who built the Red Hawks into a state power before taking the UW-Whitewater job last year.
“You rarely get one playing on your team, and we have two in the same year.”
Senior Mia Seeman and junior Taylor Hakala lead the second-ranked Red Hawks. Seeman is a returning first-team All-State performer, and joins Hakala as players who have been varsity performers from the moment they walked into high school.
Seeman shot a 77 to lead Milton to a 20-shot victory in a sectional tournament at Brighton Dale in Kansasville. With another season scoring average in the 30s for nine holes, Seeman has built on accomplishments that earned her a scholarship to South Dakota State.
“Mia, more so than any player I’ve ever been around, wants to get to this level more than anyone,” Wieland said. “I’m not trying to critique anyone or put her on a pedestal, but there just hasn’t been a player I’ve been around who got to this level.”
Hakala, also receiving Division I looks, completes Milton’s potent one-two combo. Her 81 at the sectional was good for fifth place. The team’s depth also was on display on a relatively unfamiliar course last week as senior Leah Foster shot an 88 for a top-10 finish.
“We push each other, because we both want the team to succeed,” Mia Seeman said. “And if we play well it will help the team out, too.”
In addition to trying to deliver a state title, Seeman and Hakala each have teammates close to home that inspire them to play well. Each has a little sister on the team: Claudia Seeman is a sophomore and Callie Hakala is a freshman.
Other than trying to fend off their siblings on the scorecard, Mia and Taylor view themselves as role models for their sisters.
“We motivate them,” Taylor Hakala said. “They see us as good players, so we want to help them. It’s all about helping the sisters so we can all shoot the lowest scores possible.”
If that happens today and Tuesday, the Red Hawks might find that elusive championship trophy in their possession — though top-ranked Hartland Arrowhead, led by junior and University of Wisconsin recruit Emily Lauterbach, has been at the top of its game lately.
“I just want to play against par,” Mia Seeman said. “If I do that and my teammates do, too, we’ll have a good shot at winning. We’ve got to focus on par and nothing else.”