By Brad Morris
As Elaina Seeley prepares for a tri-match on Tuesday against Pickaway County rival Westfall and Ohio Capital Conference foe Grove City at Pinnacle Golf Club, the Circleville senior is eager to see a friendly face who brings out the very best in her game — Westfall junior Paige Weiss.
“I would definitely say it’s a friendly rivalry between Paige and I,” she said. “We are very competitive and focused when we are on the course, but also very complimentary of each other after the round regardless of the outcome.
“Paige is a great golfer and knowing that there is good competition motivates me to work harder.”
This is the second time that Weiss and Seeley are slated to face off on the links this season.
Earlier this month in the Pickaway County tournament at Crown Hill Golf Club, Seeley turned in a scorecard of 72 to beat Weiss by a single stroke for county medalist honors.
Seeley and Weiss have been back-and-forth playing against each other since they entered high school.
Over the summer, Seeley and Weiss competed against each other twice on the Southern Ohio Junior PGA circuit, splitting the pair of meetings. Weiss went on to play in 13 events on the circuit, winning five and placing in the top three of eight others to earn Player of the Year honors for the 16–19-year-old division.
“When I see that Elaina and I are playing in the same tournament or match, I know I am going to have to play my best to beat her,” Weiss said. “We are both very competitive, and it is always fun playing against her.”
Weiss played the top spot in Westfall’s lineup as a sophomore last year and helped the Mustangs win the Pickaway County, Scioto Valley Conference and Southeast District championships, and earn a spot in the Division II state tournament, where they finished seventh.
Weiss shot respectable rounds of 85 and 86 at The Ohio State University Gray Golf Course to finish tied for 23rd overall in the 71-player state tournament field, but the experience taught her that she needed to make a number of improvements to her game.
“After playing in the state tournament last fall, I knew that I needed to work to improve my golf game in hopes to return to the state tournament,” she said. “Over the winter, I worked with my swing coach, Kevin Shoults, and he really helped me change my swing for the better. I was able to take my new swing and play in SOPGA tournaments, where I had some success, and I hope to carry that into the high school season.”
Weiss noted one of the big focuses in revamping her swing with Shoults was to become a more consistent ball striker.
“I needed to improve my swing so I could be a more consistent ball striker,” she said. “I struggled off the tee last year, so I really wanted to improve that along with the rest of my game.
“Kevin gave me drills to focus on, and I just continued to do the work. I also started focusing more on short game and putting, which plays a big part in lowering scores. It wasn’t always fun, but it was worth it.”
Weiss has dropped her nine-hole average from 40.8 to 37 this season and her 18-hole scorecard from 85.5 to 75.4.
Seeley wants to lead the Tigers on a historic ride like Weiss helped to spearhead for the Mustangs last season.
Circleville won the Mid-State League championship and finished as district runner-up, both for the first time in program history last season.
The Tigers have won four tournaments so far this season and are currently 12-0 in MSL play, as they have set new nine-and-18-hole program records.
Winning the Pickaway County championship for the first time in program history may have been their biggest accomplishment, however, to date.
“As a team, we work well with each other and we help each other stay focused and motivated,” Seeley said. “When we play a match or tournament we are trying to score as low as we can and attempt to break our program scoring records.
“It’s been very exciting for us to win four tournaments early in the season and get off to this great start. Winning the county tournament was a big achievement for us and a goal we had coming into the season. It’s a great feeling to be a part of the first team in CHS history to claim the county championship trophy.”
Seeley is once again anchoring the CHS lineup and has produced scorecard averages of 36.75 over nine holes and 73 on 18 holes. A season ago, Seeley averaged 38 on nine holes and 80.25 over 18 holes.
“I always go into a match trying to beat either my nine-or-18-hole personal best score,” she said. “My mental game has improved significantly from last year and a strategy I use is simply being as positive as I can at all times.”
The ultimate goal of Seeley and her teammates is to become the first team in program history to quality for the state tournament.
The county rivals appear destined to meet in the Southeast District championships on Oct. 3 at the Pickaway Country Club, where the district champion and top individual not on the championship team qualify for the state tournament.
While the final chapter in the friendly rivalry between Weiss and Seeley remains to be authored, Weiss is happy to see the pair of anchors continuing the proud tradition of Pickaway County girls golf that has produced players like Taylor Saxton, Bailey Pontius, Breanna Post, Brooke DeVolld, Maddi Shoults, Audrey Keplar and others.
“Pickaway County has a tradition of producing very good girls golfers over the years, including Maddi and Audrey over the past couple of seasons,” Weiss said. “Elaina is definitely doing her part to keep that tradition alive, and I am going to work as hard as I can this season and next season to hopefully follow those names.”