Hogan is a medalist golfer and student

NorthWood senior golfer Sean Hogan will attempt to to earn a berth in the IHSAA state tournament on Thursday when he tees off at the Swan Lake Golf Club in Plymouth.

NorthWood senior Sean Hogan certainly qualifies to be called a student-athlete.

Throughout high school, Hogan balanced academics and sports, with his main sport being golf. 

Hogan, who also played football and basketball for the Panthers his freshman year and participated in tennis this past fall, finished with a sparkling 3.99 grade-point average this year. He finished ranked sixth in his class.

Hogan signed with Trine University during the winter to play golf. He plans to major in chemical engineering.

"Pretty much during my junior year I started to look at what I wanted to major in," said Hogan. "It seemed like all the classes that I liked led me to my eventual major. I'm thinking about going into grad school and getting into cancer research."

Trine's golf coach saw Hogan play at a tournament and was a believer in Hogan's ability as a golfer.

"He invited me to the campus," Hogan said. "I liked the campus and they had the academics that I wanted." 

Good test scores in high school have been easier to achieve for Hogan compared to shooting low scores as a golfer. 

"He hasn't posted the scores that he would have liked throughout the year," said first-year NorthWood boys golf coach Phil Ummel. "But things have started to come together for him towards the end of the season."

Hogan's growth as a golfer was exhibited last Friday at the NorthWood Sectional at Meadow Valley Golf Course.

He finished as the sectional medalist after shooting a 77.

There was a wait before Hogan received the good news that he was the top golfer at the sectional.

"I was part of the fifth group that came," Hogan said. "I had to wait for two other groups to come in.

"I knew I had played well, but it still was a little bit surprising to me that I was the medalist. I didn't think the course was as hard as people thought it was. It wasn't that wet which helped the golfers."

For the fourth straight year, Hogan will be participating in the regional. But unlike the previous three years, Hogan will be the lone Panther competing at the regional. NorthWood placed sixth at the sectional with a 346. Only the top three teams advance to regional play. 

"My teammates were happy for me," Hogan said. "But it was a little disappointing that we didn't play better as a whole."

The Panthers finished as sectional champions the last two years and finished third when Hogan was a freshman. 

Hogan posted solid scores and contributed to that team success. He finished third overall last year at the sectional and was second on the team to medalist Caleb Lung, who shot a 72. 

As a sophomore, he finished tied for second on the team with Taylor Weigend after shooting an 80. 

At his first sectional, Hogan also finished tied for second on the team. He shot an 87 that season and matched teammate Nick Shenk.

This year has been different for Hogan. There's momentum carrying him into the regional this Thursday at Plymouth's Swan Lake Golf Club.

"I think I play a lot smarter now," Hogan said. "I don't try as many shots that would get me in trouble.

"I got myself in comfortable positions at the sectional. I didn't have to worry about the next shot. I had 10 to 15-foot birdie putts. Those were comfortable two putts."

Ummel was impressed with Hogan's execution.

"He kept the ball on the fairways and greens consistently," Ummel said. "He placed the ball in good spots. He didn't have to take chances."

The competition gets tougher this Thursday when Hogan competes at the Plymouth Regional for a spot in the state finals on June 11th and 12th at Carmel's Prairie View Golf Club. The top three teams and top five individuals not on qualifying teams advance to state. 

Hogan has never advanced past the regional. In previous years, Hogan shot an 86, 82 and 80 at the regional. 

"Since the start of the season Sean's goal has been to get to state," Ummel said. "It will take a 74 or 75 to qualify and he's more than capable of doing that."

To better prepare himself for the regional, Hogan worked on his golf game this week at Swan Lake Golf Club.

"I'm working on my short game and my chipping," Hogan said. 

Hogan played at Swan Lake two weeks ago as part of the Triton Invitational. He shot an 82.

"I played pretty good," Hogan said. "The last few holes I messed up."

Hogan doesn't need a trip to the state finals to make his high school golf career a success. In only one year as coach, Hogan has gained Ummel's respect.

"Sean has provided great senior leadership," Ummel said. "He's helped me and led the younger players with the example he sets every day with how he works on his golf game and his desire to improve."


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