As the year comes to a close for most Seabury Hall students, an important journey recently happened the boys golf team as they traveled to Turtle Bay on Oahu for the David S. Ishii Foundation Golf State Championships at for the first time since 2010. With much preparation and the MIL title on their shoulders, they entered the tournament ready to compete to the best of their ability.
The Spartans seemed to have a nearly perfect season in the MIL, shooting low and stepping up when needed. Team co-captain senior Kyle Sparks gave much praise to the coach for the success saying, “Our coach, Jake Grodzinsky, really pushed us this season, and we practiced hard.”
Team co-captain senior Ryan Chang spoke highly of the players. When asked what attributed to the success this season in particular, he said,“The performance by everyone on the team; we had Pierce [Dowd] as a freshman step up and just play out of his mind, me and Kyle kind of consistently there most of the time, just having a good, solid group of like six players we could pull from instead of past seasons where it’s only four of us and all the pressure is on us.”
Some of the golfers also mentioned how their expectations dictated their results. “I think we had high expectations going into the season ’cause we knew we had a pretty strong team so we just all worked hard cause we knew it was possible,” said freshman Pierce Dowd.
In comparing this year’s team with the previous years’ teams, many of the golfers mentioned that this year was the best team Seabury Hall has had in a long time, citing that the team had not made it to states as a team since 2008. This team in particular had a deep squad with lots of skill to contribute to the team scores.
During this year’s MIL season, the team came across only a small number setbacks in winning the title. “I had a few weeks where I didn’t shoot that good, like some of my higher scores, but I kind of bounced back and regained momentum and played better the following weeks,” said Sparks.
There was a lurking problem of missed practices during key times of the season. “During spring break, a lot of people were gone so we had to have some of the guys who don’t play too much step up. Max Flammer [a staff writer for the Seabury Tides] stepped up over spring break and that really helped,” said Dowd.
However, when asked if there were any setbacks for this season, Chang responded, “Not really. Just swinging too hard on the course.”
The Spartans team went into states as the overall MIL team champion with high expectations for themselves. With three leaving seniors looking for their final hurrah, the team looked to make waves.
Some golfers were used to the way the course plays, mentioning, “A few of us have played that course before so we’re prepared and it’s similar to some of the courses here on Maui so we should do pretty good,” said Sparks. Chang also expressed his experience with the course, stating, “I shot one of my lowest rounds there, so I’m looking forward to it.”
However, not all of the Spartans were as experienced with Turtle Bay. “Well, I haven’t played the course before, so we’re only going to play one practice round, so I’m gonna have to be able to adjust quickly to the course and like the way the greens are and how fast they are,” said Dowd.
The team went in with full effort, placing sixth against the best and biggest schools of Hawaii such as Punahou and Moanalua. Seabury’s top three scorers for the tournament were Ryan Chang (161), Kyle Sparks (164), and Pierce Dowd (165).
Both Chang and Graziano mentioned how sickness and their physical well-being negatively affected their individual performances. “I also got super sick when I first went over there, but we all did well, played our part,” said Graziano.
“It was definitely rough because we did not get as much practice at that course as usual. I mean, teams like Punahou get to fly out to wherever states is two weeks in advance to play practice rounds, but we get one round. Super jet lag almost, and like that was our only time seeing the course, so our performance wasn’t that great. First day, we ended up in last place for the team tournament, and no one was in the top 20 for individual tournament, so it was pretty rough but second day we kind of shaped up a little bit, playing pretty much bogey golf, meaning everybody was one over par for each hole, and it was kind of heavy. All in all, even though we didn’t do as well as we wanted, our team ended up in sixth place,” said senior J.P. Hill.
Although disappointed by their result at states, the team found some good out of the situation.
When asked about any takeaways from the end result, Hill said, “It was more so just a bonding moment. It was a really fun time verses focusing on getting the win ’cause had we just been focusing on getting the win, we wouldn’t have had a good time at all.”
As mentioned by some of the departing seniors, the golf team has a bright future looking forward to the years to come. There is a new wave of freshmen and sophomores with much talent to keep the program thriving.
“Since we won MILs this year, we swept for the first time in eight years, I feel like now the golf team is actually gonna get more recognition. They’re actually gonna put more money into the golf team…but now that we actually made an impact on the MIL and at Seabury, we’ll get more recognition for the sport in the years to come. It’s gonna be more visible, more on the map a little more,” said Graziano.
Although the senior boys are disappointed that they had to leave at such an important turning point for golf at Seabury, they remain hopeful and trusting in the underclassmen to keep the program strong and thriving for the years to come.