It was an early and cold morning, and Wonjoon Seo said he was tired as tee time neared.
However, the Mercer Island High School (MIHS) junior soon brushed the proverbial cobwebs out of his head and unleashed some solid golf during the 3A KingCo Tournament on Oct. 14 at Snohomish Golf Course.
When Seo completed his 18-hole journey, the Islander grasped a 2-under score of 70 and would soon be wide awake and grinning with a first-place medal hanging around his neck.
The accolades didn’t stop there as Seo was named the league’s most valuable player and the Islander boys notched their program’s fifth consecutive 3A KingCo Tournament championship. On the coaching front, MIHS’s Tyson Peters shared 3A KingCo coach of the year honors with Interlake’s Scott Marcum.
Before stepping onto the course, Seo’s continuous thoughts about potentially earning the MVP award powered him through the competition toward success.
“I just went out there, I played my best, had a few ups and downs on the course, but came out on top. I’m really happy about that,” said Seo, who amassed five birdies and possessed stellar iron, long and putting games on the day.
Head coach Peters said that Seo turned up the heat with a complete batch of under-par performances during the last seven matches of the regular season. The team’s No. 3 golfer stood in the top spot on championship day, and Seo said he feels like all his hard work paid off.
Seo, who is one of the team’s four returners from last year’s state title squad — along with Spencer Smith, Elliott Hoang and Evan Otte — was thrilled that the team grabbed another KingCo crown.
“Every single time we’ve won, it’s always great to just be able to talk to everyone else at the end, laughing, having fun,” said Seo, whose team is set to compete at the district tournament on Oct. 24 at Druids Glen Golf Course in Kent.
Smith — who tied for fourth at the league tourney with a 75 and is an all-league second-teamer — Hoang, Seo, Otte and Wooje Chung complete the Islander lineup with Brian Murdoch individually qualifying for districts.
At the 3A KingCo tourney, Mercer Island finished with a winning score of 301, followed by Bellevue with 306, Liberty with 310 and Interlake with 314. All four teams qualified for districts, and the top five teams at that event punch their tickets to state in the spring.
“It feels very lucky on my end to continue to have players and teams that are so competitive and skilled and capable. It’s been a treat to be able to go into the KingCo tournament every year knowing that if we play our best that we have a chance at winning it,” said 18-year coach Peters, who will be retiring from his position after this season to spend more time with his family. He will remain at the school to instruct his world history courses.
As a bonus for the program, the PGA National High School Golf Association ranked the Islanders 20th in the country for 2021-2022 and invited them to participate in its 2023 national golf tournament from July 17-19 in Frisco, Texas.
Seo chuckles when discussing the national tournament, noting that when Peters mentioned the team’s possible inclusion in the event last year, he and Smith didn’t believe him.
“It doesn’t feel real,” Seo said.
“It is super exciting. It’s really, really cool,” Peters said. “This is just one last opportunity that I get to have with this awesome golf team and I’m really looking forward to having that last hurrah with them as well.”
Over the last 18 years at the helm of the MIHS program, Peters said that he’s enjoyed helping his players prepare for matches and watching them compete at a high level. His goal was to have a positive impact on the Islander crew. To finish off his coaching career, Peters would like to witness the boys lift another state title trophy seven months from now.