Cathedral group leaves lasting mark

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 30, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Confidence and great teamwork make for the winning combination that helped Cathedral High School&8217;s golf team win the state championship earlier this month.

However, first-year coach John Wright said he feels the team&8217;s strongest asset was its teamwork.

&8220;I think that they have been playing together for so long that they have created their own little support group,&8221; Wright said. &8220;They all wanted to win so bad and they encourage each other so much and that is what helped them win.&8221;

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The three seniors: Jordan Farmer, Mathew Hall and Mary Kate Byrne, and the two juniors: Jake Kaiser and Aaron Murray seem to mesh well as a team in defeating any opponent in golf.

&8220;There&8217;s a bit of an intimidation factor that plays into it. We&8217;ve been playing together for so many years and have all stayed consistent and the other teams know this,&8221; Farmer said.

The team of five first started playing together in 2001. In the four years they have played together they have won two high school state championships.

Matthew Hall pointed out that the five teammates who took state each brought something of their own to win.

&8220;Jordan is the best golfer on our team. His ability to intimidate any player he is paired with along with his consistency in shooting in low 70s since the ninth-grade really frustrates his opponents,&8221; Hall said.

&8220;As for myself, I just try and keep my score low and this way I help out Jordan if he has a bad day &8212; which is really rare.&8221;

It wasn&8217;t until last year that Mississippi high schools started an all-girls&8217; league and state championship. Before playing in both leagues, Mary Kate Byrne competed quite successfully in the all-boy tournaments.

Byrne recalls only one or two girls playing in the boy tournaments this year, however, Byrne has shown her ability to deher predominantly male rivals with her determination.

&8220;She&8217;s always practicing and can really hit the long ball, and this is what surprises her opponents,&8221; Hall said. &8220;They think she is going to be a push-over until she hits her ball off the tee.&8221;

Byrne received an athletic and academic

scholarship from Centenary College. Farmer will also be pursuing a career in college golf.

Even though Hall and Farmer are the top-two spot golfers on the team, they both agree that without Byrne, Kaiser and Murray, the team would not have made it this far.

&8220;Most of the 3-, 4- and 5-spot golfers we played this year shot in the high 80s to low 90s whereas our three, four and five maintain scores in the low 80s.&8221;

Farmer, Cathedral&8217;s state championship winner, said he is looking forward to playing for Delta State&8217;s or the University of Southern Mississippi&8217;s golf teams but is sad to see his teammates go.

Delta State and Southern Miss each offered Farmer a scholarship after he made visits to each campus. He has yet to choose but said no matter which one, he hopes to meet a good coach who can help him improve his game to a much higher level.

&8220;I&8217;ve been happy all throughout my high school career and played with a great bunch of teammates,&8221; Farmer said. &8220;I will miss them a lot.&8221;

Farmer also recalls his first time to take up the sport of golf.

&8220;I started in the summer of my eighth-grade year,&8221; he said. &8220;From eighth- to 10th- grade I practiced really hard every day for about two hours a day on the driving range and about five hours a day playing rounds of golf.&8221;

Farmer&8217;s progress was halted, however, after he broke his arm in his third football game of his junior year against West Lincoln then again while playing basketball with some friends after school.

&8220;I&8217;ve been playing really hard, trying to regain my strength since February,&8221; Farmer said. &8220;I&8217;m just now getting back to my old self.&8221;

Farmer gives a lot of credit for his success and passion for golf to his dad, Henry, and his uncle, Gary.

&8220;Both really got me interested in the game, and both really encouraged me to play my best,&8221; Farmer said.

Farmer might never had become so great had it not been for a tough decision.

&8220;My ninth-grade year my dad said that I would have to choose between golf or baseball because I only had time for one springtime sport,&8221; Farmer said. &8220;I chose golf because I began to notice my improvement. I began to think to myself, &8216;Ya know, I could get a scholarship if I tried.&8217;&8221;

&8220;I really want to go to the PGA, and I have the confidence that I can do it.&8221;

In his last year on the CHS golf team, Farmer said he only had one real worry about making it to state.

&8220;My biggest worry was in Vicksburg when we played some of the bigger conference teams at the Vicksburg High School Invitational,&8221; Farmer said. &8220;After that I was sure we would get to and win at the state championship.&8221;

The three seniors feel that next year Murray, Kaiser and the up-and-coming team have what it takes to win state for a third year in a row but that it is up to Murray and Kaiser to step up and be the leaders.

&8220;Jordan, Matt and myself realized that state would be our last time to play together,&8221; Byrne said. &8220;I think that knowing that helped us give 110 percent at the tournament.&8221;

Even though the team expected to win state, they still remember feeling surprised and a little sad at the finishing hole.

&8220;I cried when I walked off the 18th green because I realized that I probably wouldn&8217;t play this type of event with my teammates again,&8221; Byrne said. &8220;So the victory is a little bittersweet for me.&8221;