Jerome's Selamet clearing hurdles
Ahmet and Emel Selamet were elated when their only child, Mert, was born on Sept. 3, 1995.
Moments after his birth, though, the couple were frightened when doctors told them that their son had to undergo immediate surgery on his spine. He also had constriction bands above both ankles, restricting the blood circulation in his legs.
"My wife and I were looking forward so much to Mert being born and complications like that never crossed our mind," Ahmet Selamet said. "There were so many emotions, including happiness, followed by confusion and then dire concerns. If his (back) surgery wasn't successful, the least of Mert's problems would have been that he wouldn't be able to walk. His mobility was at a serious risk and it was perhaps the most anxious time of our lives."
Having undergone a total of five operations by neuro, orthopedic and plastic surgeons over the years, Selamet is able to walk and run well enough to compete in such sports as basketball, golf and soccer.
This season, the Dublin Jerome High School senior has emerged as the No. 1 player for the defending Division I state champion boys golf team.
"We're very grateful to those who changed his life and his future by helping him, and we're very proud of Mert for developing into the person he is today," Ahmet Selamet said.
Selamet said his legs tend to get tired and his ankles sometimes get sore when he plays an 18-hole round. In addition, his right leg is weaker than his left, which causes him to walk slower than his peers from one hole to the next.
He has been warned but never penalized by officials for slow play.
"I can still carry a golf bag, but I walk slower than other people and, by the time I get to the ball, sometimes the people I'm playing with have taken another shot," Selamet said. "When I do catch up, I have to take a deep breath, focus and make sure I take a good shot."
Hitting long drives always has been the biggest challenge for Selamet, who estimates his drives were about 20 to 30 yards shorter than most of his peers' during his freshman and sophomore seasons.
But after working with a personal trainer to strengthen his arms and legs the past two years, Selamet has added about 15 yards to his drive average.
"I had a tendency to lose my balance on my drives and swing myself out of my shoes, but I've gotten stronger and improved my form a lot," he said. "I still drive the ball shorter than a lot of people, but now I'm not starting from as far back, which makes a huge difference."
According to Jerome coach Craig Zesiger, what Selamet lacks in distance, he more than makes up for in accuracy, especially on approach shots.
"Mert never plays outside himself and he manages his game better than any high school player I've ever seen," Zesiger said. "He usually has to make up some ground because he doesn't hit it long, but he's amazingly accurate, especially with his iron."
Selamet was the Celtics' No. 3 golfer as a sophomore and moved up to No. 2 as a junior, helping lead the Celtics to OCC-Cardinal Division, sectional, district and state championships.
He had a 73.5-stroke average over the four rounds of the OCC-Cardinal tournament last year to earn first-team all-league honors.
Jerome shot a 300 to win the sectional at The Players Club at Foxfire last year ahead of runner-up New Albany (316), with Selamet shooting a 2-under par 70 to earn medalist honors.
Selamet shot a team-best 72 to lead Jerome to its first district title since it won three in a row from 2006-08, as the Celtics (296) edged Upper Arlington (297) for first at Apple Valley.
Jerome then won its fourth state championship in its eight-year history, shooting a 623 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course to edge runner-up Centerville (626). Selamet shot a 152 over 36 holes to tie Cincinnati Elder's Daniel Schwarz for fourth behind the co-medalists, Beau Titsworth of Cleveland St. Ignatius and Ian Holt of Stow-Munroe Falls, both of whom shot a 150.
This season, Selamet had a 71.59-stroke average before competing in the Wooster Generals Invitational on Sept. 10 at Wooster Country Club, and had been a medalist three times in the Celtics' first 12 matches, including when he shot a 67 in the Centerville Invitational on Aug. 16 at Yankee Trace.
Selamet is so consistent and mentally tough that he's been dubbed "The Machine" by Zesiger.
"A machine does a repeatable action with the same accurate outcome, and that describes Mert's game perfectly," Zesiger said. "Mert never gets rattled in any situation and he's the most consistent player I've ever seen at his age."
Despite his play the last two seasons, Selamet, who has a 4.4 cumulative GPA, has yet to be offered a Division I college scholarship.
"I think the main concern of most college coaches is how I'll hold up when they compete in 36-hole events," Selamet said. "Having people thinking that I'm not good enough just gives me more motivation really because I want to prove them wrong."
Chad Merzbacher, a 2012 Jerome graduate who is playing for the University of Tennessee, believes Selamet will be successful no matter what he chooses to pursue in life.
"If we don't see Mert on the PGA Tour, he will be the CEO of a major company or the person to find the cure for cancer, because he's a genius," Merzbacher said. "Mert makes people mad because they see him walking 25 yards behind them and they don't think they should lose to him, and then he comes back and beats them. He's the greatest high school player I've seen because he's so consistent and his score always counts. It doesn't matter what happens, Mert never gets mad or loses his focus. Nothing distracts him, not even girls. I don't know how he does it. He's just an amazing person."
Shamrocks rolling through season
Coffman is enjoying a strong season. Among the highlights was its performance in the 16-team Pinnacle Classic on Sept. 1 at Pinnacle, as the Shamrocks shot a 149 to finish first, ahead of runners-up Upper Arlington (153) and Pickerington North (153) and fourth-place Jerome (154).
Nick Sparling (35) and Brennan Whitis (37) led the way for the Shamrocks in the rain-shortened event.
"That was a big win for us because we beat three of the best teams in the state in Pickerington North, UA and Jerome," coach David Woodmansee said.
The Shamrocks finished fourth (313) in the Wooster Generals Invitational on Sept. 10 at Wooster Country Club behind champion UA (291).
In a one-hole playoff involving three players, Sparling (72) had a hole-in-one to be named medalist runner-up.
"That was fun because everyone was standing there watching when Nick got the hole-in-one, and people were jumping around and congratulating him after he made it," Woodmansee said.