This was a solid team, a good team.
Cathedral High School golf boys performed consistently much of the 2023 season, doing so with strong performances from players of various levels and experience playing major roles.
That made ’23 a successful season, as coach Mike Miller saw it.
“It was really, really enjoyable,” Miller said.
The Irish, who placed fourth in the Indiana High School Athletic Association state tournament in 2022, lost state runner-up Ryan Ford – who went on to play at the University of Cincinnati – from that team. They moved forward in 2023 with a team led by tournament-tough seniors and improving underclassmen.
The Irish finished second in the City Tournament to Heritage Christian in 2023 and won the Culver Invitational at the Warren Golf Course in South Bend. Postseason results for 2023 were not available because of deadlines.
“They were a pleasure to work with,” Miller said of the Irish. “We may not be as strong as we've been the last few years. We’ve had some really exceptional players in the last five, six or seven years with Austin Vukovitz (who played collegiately at Mississippi State) and Ryan Ford.
“We didn’t have anybody that caliber, but that's not a slam on what we have. It's just a compliment to the guys that have graduated. We were solid, really solid top to bottom.”
The Irish in 2023 were led by:
*Senior Max McGinley.
*Senior Jake Cerar.
*Senior Mark Beatty.
*Junior Aiden Storms.
*Junior Drew Adams.
*Freshman Johnny Leaman.
“They were very consistent for the most part and played some good golf,” Miller said. “The thing that I liked the most was just the great attitude. They were a real positive group of guys. They rooted for hard for each other, pulled for each other.”
Miller said the Irish in 2023 were a team of good ball-strikers.
“It’s kind of like basketball in a sense,” he said. “If you're not getting the ball in the basket, you're probably not going to win it. It's kind of the same in golf: If you're not getting in the jar, it doesn't matter how much other stuff you're really doing well. That can be really, really critical.
“Our short game had to be in play and that was when we were competitive.”
McGinley, who held the No. 1 spot much of the season, shot 72 in the city tournament to finish second. He played a key role as a leader and shot numerous low scores through the season, with Cerar also leading through the course of the season.
“He just gave us a lot of stability,” Miller said of Cerar, adding of McGinley, “He's a natural athlete. He’s a wrestler as well. He's got a good mental attitude for the sport.”
Miller said the group’s approach made for a positive season not only for him, but for the players as a whole.
“That was my No. 1 goal,” Miller said. “I just wanted to try to make the season as positive and enjoyable as possible. They really enjoyed it. They really like each other. Our team unity, I would say that's our best quality. That may sound weird in an individual sport like golf, but it does make a difference.
“It makes practice more fun. It makes the matches more fun. And I think it really just helps the overall karma. I'm not trying to act like we don't have some talented kids and some good players, but I think the best thing I can say about this team is that they just really, really liked each other. We had a great time. We had a good time. It was been a lot of fun for me, anyway. I think they say the same.
“They just fed off each other and they were so relaxed and they played well.”
The Irish ’22 state finals appearance marked the 18th such appearance in program history, and Miller said the program in 2023 continued to lay the groundwork for what he expects will be a bright future.
“We're really hopeful,” Miller said. “We do have a lot of good young players in addition to the guys that are playing varsity right now that we are returning. There are a lot of good young players that if they work hard definitely could make a difference in the years to come.”