The future looks bright for Cathedral High School boys golf.
It looked that way entering 2017, but Irish boys golf coach Patrick Fagan said it looked that way even more following a remarkable season.
A young Irish boys golf team exceeded expectations in 2017, not only winning the sectional title but qualifying for the Indiana High School Athletic Association state tournament with a lineup that featured five underclassmen throughout the postseason.
This was a good team in 2017, one that matured as the season continued. And Fagan said it has potential to continue improving.
“We’re very young,” Fagan said. “I would say this: We’re probably a year ahead. If you had asked me two months ago, I would have said ‘We’ll get to state next year, not this year.’ That was a real bonus to get there.”
The Irish finished 14th at the state finals at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel on June 12-13, shooting 332 on the first day and improving to 315 on Day 2 to finish with a two-day total of 647. Junior Austin Vukovits finished tied for seventh at the state tournament by shooting 74-71 for a two-day 145 – one over par for the tournament.
“He’s a stud,” Fagan said of Vukovitz, an All-State selection for a second consecutive year. “Until the regional, he finished no worse than third in any event all year long.”
Junior Danny Paris finished tied for 43rd at the state tournament with an 82-73-155 (plus 11), followed by freshman Braden Estes (86-89-175, plus 31) tying for 93rd and sophomore Luke Mattingly (90-88-178, plus 34) finishing 95th. Sophomore Jimmy Grund played the first day of the state tournament and freshman David Cooke played the second day, shooting an 83.
“The whole team played better the second day,” Fagan said. “To be honest with you, I think they were pretty nervous on Tuesday [Day 1]. None of them had ever made the state finals before. I’m sure there were some nerves on Tuesday.”
The state finals appearance was the first for the Irish since 2012.
“We had been really close [the past several seasons], and this team sort of came out of nowhere,” Fagan said. “I figured we had a chance, but I thought it was a flip of the coin. They went out in the regional and played great. They played great, and I was thrilled to death when they made it.”
The Irish qualified for the state tournament by finishing second at the Muncie Central Regional at the Players Club on June 8. Parris shot 73 that day followed by Vukovits at 77, Mattingly at 80, Estes at 81 and Cooke at 86.
“I would have said going into regional we were probably the fifth favorite to get out,” Fagan said. “Luke Mattingly started playing really well and we finally settled on Cooke and Estes on our fourth and fifth kids. They really came through.”
Estes moved up from the junior varsity during the season.
“He started putting up some really good scores for us,” Fagan said.
The Irish won the Sectional 14 tournament on Friday, June 2, at the Maple Creek Golf Course, winning with a score of 315 – seven shots ahead of runner-up Bishop Chatard. That marked the Irish’s fourth consecutive sectional boys golf title.
Vukovits shot 74 in the sectional with Mattingly shooting 78, Estes shooting 79, Paris shooting 84 and Cooke shooting 85.
The Irish won the 2017 Indianapolis City Championship at Riverside Golf Course, beating runner-up Chatard, 287-302. Paris and Vukovits each shot 70 for the Irish. Mattingly shot 72 with Cooke shooting 75 and Grund shooting 80.
With that sort of postseason success and a young roster, Fagan said the future could be brighter than the season that just ended.
“We’ve got seven kids working hard to get five spots next year,” Fagan said. “We probably had this year a year ahead of time. We had sort of been building this team to be really good next year, and we got there a year early. Every one of them was talking after the season about what they want to do next year, and how much better they want to be as a team.”