Consider the foundation laid.
That was a theme throughout the Cathedral High School 2019 boys golf season, with a young team experiencing success in the present and also establishing itself as contender for the future.
“It was a really, really fun season,” Irish golf coach Patrick Fagan said.
There were many reasons for that.
First, the Irish were more successful in ’19 than many observers expected. Despite the loss after the 2018 season of three-time All-State golfer Austin Vukovits, the Irish – after entering the season unranked – immediately proved doubters wrong and spent the 2019 season ranked around or in the Top 10 of the Indiana High School Golf Coaches Association state poll.
The Irish were ranked No. 9 in the final IHSGCA 2019 poll.
The Irish not only won the Indianapolis City Tournament for a sixth consecutive year, they were poised in late May to make a run through the postseason toward the Indiana High School Athletic Association state tournament in mid-June.
“We got better and better as the season went on,” Fagan said.
The Irish shot 296 to win the city title, with senior Luke Mattingly and junior Carter Caito shooting 72, junior David Cooke shooting 76, freshman Ryan Ford shooting 76 and junior Caleb Land shooting 78.
The makeup of the Irish was another factor making the season enjoyable, with Mattingly – who will play collegiately at Marian – the only senior on a team of young players that developed and matured throughout the season.
“We’re really young,” Fagan said. “I don’t think anybody thought we were going to be strong. I thought we were going to be pretty good, but we may have been just about as good as last year. Which was interesting.
“They were really consistent and that’s pretty surprising. Even last year’s team, we were up and down a little. This team was pretty steady all along. We had great camaraderie with in the team. We had guys show up for matches when they’re not playing. That’s really cool when you have stuff like that going on.”
Fagan said key for the Irish was the lone senior consistently in the Top 5: Mattingly, who played the No. 1 spot throughout the season and who provided important leadership for a young team.
“Mr. Consistency,” Fagan called Mattingly, who moved from No. 3 as a junior to No. 1 as a senior. “Nothing rattles him. He’s not a birdie machine. He gets a lot of par and not very many bogies.”
Also key: Ford, a freshman with a bright future who made key contributions in his first season on the varsity.
Fagan said the ’19 Irish were defined mostly by balance and depth, with a strong junior class providing solid performances throughout the season and seniors Jimmy Grund and Matt Bigelow contributing.
“It was a fun team to coach, but it was a difficult team to coach,” Fagan said. “We were a very deep team and really balanced. It makes those last few spots difficult. Last year, it was pretty defined who was going to be our Top 5 or 6. This year, we could go eight or nine and still be really good.
“The seniors didn’t get to play as much as would be ideal. It was difficult that way, but they’re a bunch of good kids and they work really hard. It’s fun to see how they got better week after week.”
That improvement, and the ability to maintain a state-level program, bodes well for the future. Fagan said it also speaks to the progress made by Irish golf over the last three or four seasons.
“I’ve said this to a lot of people: One of the reasons we are where we are is when Austin came into the program, he set a foundation,” Fagan said. “The other kids built on that foundation. They’ve seen how Austin worked to get better all the time. We’re seeing the results of the hard work he did and it’s gone through the whole program. He’s the foundation of what we’re doing now. It’s a different level.”
It was level reached by a team that not only succeeded in the present but that will be a team to watch in what could be a bright future.
“Maybe they were a little surprised with how well we did at times,” Fagan said. “I’m not sure they knew we were going to be as good as we were when the season started, but they worked really hard. When we played tough courses, they played really well. We played well against good teams.
“It was a real interesting journey to see them get better.”