The Seaside Gulls may have come up short in their bid for state championships in football and basketball, but the school year ain’t over yet.
Seaside has won one state title in a boys sport in each of the last five school years, and the Gulls don’t intend on breaking that tradition.
Their best chance this spring will be in boys golf, where the Gulls head into the year ranked No. 1 in a preseason coaches poll.
We all know preseason polls aren’t worth much, but this one appears to be fairly accurate.
Seaside opened its season March 20 by posting a 313 team score, its best round of golf since the 2015 state championship season.
Head coach Jim Poetsch led the Gull golfers to state titles in 2014 and 2015. In his other job as an assistant coach in boys basketball, Poetsch has four championship rings over the last five years. He’s hoping to add one for the thumb this spring.
Seaside recently added a big victory in their annual trip to The Dalles, where the Gulls defended their tournament title from last season and posted their best team score (335) at The Dalles since 2006, and better than scores posted by their state championship teams.
There will be challengers (Marist, maybe Cascade), but the Gulls are once again definite contenders for a state title.
“Potentially this could be one of our top three teams,” Poetsch said. “This team is probably better than our first state championship team.”
Score-wise, Seaside’s best year was 2006.
This year’s team may not match the team scores posted in ‘06, “because I scheduled some tough courses,” Poetsch said. “(Emerald) Valley’s a tough course and that’s where state is. We’d rather get them ready for that, than go out and shoot a bunch of low scores on easy courses.”
The Gulls lost their top golfer from last season — Jackson Kunde — to graduation.
Out goes Kunde, in comes freshman Carson Kawasoe. And Seaside’s best golfer at The Dalles was sophomore Curtis Kunde. This team is already great, the golfers are young, and the season has barely started.
“We lost Jackson and replaced him with Carson,” Poetsch said. “We didn’t lose a step, and the kids worked hard all summer, so I think we’re in pretty good shape. We’re going to be right in there.”
Rounding out the Seaside’s top five, he said, are “Samson Sibony and Connor Merrell, Mason Shamion and Curtis from last year, and Carson. Any of them can beat the others on any day.”
Kawasoe, son of Astoria golf pro John Kawasoe, is the golfer who will make Seaside contenders for the next three years. Locals certainly know the freshman, and the rest of the state soon will.
“Hopefully it doesn’t put too much pressure on him, because he is just a freshman,” Poetsch said. “He’s played some golf, but he’s only 15. He’s pretty level-headed though.”
“Statewide, Marist (now Class 4A) won the 5A state title last year, and they have three good golfers back,” Poetsch said. “Stayton and Cascade have a lot of good kids back. Woodburn was in the 5A tournament last year and they’ve dropped (to 4A), and they have all five kids back. And Mazama has four of its five back. The Cowapa League is not going to go 1-2-5 at state like last year.”
Valley Catholic won the 2018 state title, ahead of second-place Scappoose, and Seaside was fifth.
The good teams will usually step to the front of the pack by midseason.
Until then, “You just have to start reading papers from around the state, and hope that they put their scores in,” Poetsch said. “Usually by the halfway point of the season, we’ve had enough tournaments to figure it out, but right now it’s guesswork.”
For now, “I know we’re good and I know Marist is good. And unless some other teams got good over the summer, I think those are the two teams to beat right now. There’s always one or two teams that come out of nowhere.”