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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Orahood inks with Lyon College

Thursday, February 19, 2009

SIGNING DAY: Gaston Orahood inked a letter of intent Feb. 11 to play golf at Lyon College in Batesville next year. Back row, from left are: Thayer Head Golf Coach Cliff Hawkins and Butch Steed; front row: Lyon College Head Golf Coach Julie Church, Gaston Orahood, Melodie Orahood and Herb Orahood. Photo/Mullins
When Lyon College goes looking for a perspective student-athlete to recruit, the student part is every bit as important as the athlete part to the Batesville, Ark., school.

In other words, if you're not well-rounded on and off the playing field, you need not worry about trying to capture the attention of any of the coaches at Lyon College.

"They really do have to be able to handle more than just the athletics here," said Lyon College Head Golf Coach Julie Church. "They have to be able to handle the demanding academics, too. That's probably what we're known for, more so than athletics -- the academic part."

In that case, it's a good thing that Thayer High School standout golfer Gaston Orahood has been as efficient in the classroom as he has on the greens for the past few years.

Orahood signed a letter of intent Feb. 11 at the Thayer High School library to play golf for Church and Lyon College next season.

And according to Church, Orahood should fit right in at Lyon College.

"He just seemed like a good fit. He wanted to go somewhere small and somewhere where the academics are good," she said. "His game and his scores that I'm familiar with, will really help us. But I just think he's a really good fit for us. And we're looking for people that will not only fit in with the golf team, but are going to also fit into the school environment and add something to the school, as well as the golf team."

Church should know a thing or two about being able to balance both sides of the coin at Lyon College. She was the school's first women's scholarship golfer and was a three-time member of the All-TranSouth Conference team during her playing days. She was also a NAIA Honorable Mention All-American.

Now in her fourth year of guiding both the men's and women's golf program at Lyon, Church thinks next year's freshmen class on the men's side of things could pay immediate dividends.

"We've got Michael Shedd from Manila High School, a 3A school in Arkansas, signed for next year. He was All-State this year and finished sixth in the state tournament. We also signed Zach O'Brien from Brinkley (Arkansas) High School and he was All-Region his junior and senior year and played well in the state tournament, also," she said. "And we brought in Nathan Duncan from the Cherokee Village/Highland area. He came in at the semester break, so he'll be playing for us this spring. And then we added Gaston. And all these guys will come in and help us right away. All of the guys we've signed could help us right now if they were there."

But first, Orahood has the little matter of finishing his senior season at Thayer. And the two-time All-District selection is ready.

"I've always heard this (Lyon) college was really good and my grades in high school have always been good, so I wanted to get the most I can out of college and I think I've made a good choice," said Orahood. "I just want to keep from getting distracted the rest of my senior year and continue to make good grades. And I want to maintain my focus this golf season and finish my career on a strong note. I'd like to make the All-State team my senior year."

Orahood finished in the top four golfers in the district last season, but knows at the college level things will be a bit different.

"I'll work hard this summer and this golf season, so I think I'll be ready (for college golf)," Orahood said. "I've been working out, developing some muscles because the golf courses in college will be longer, so that's one thing I'm concentrating on."

The way Thayer Head Golf Coach Cliff Hawkins sees it, Orahood should be able to adapt to the college game with minor adjustments.

"I think he'll be fine (playing college golf). As long as you can stay in the middle, the distance won't hurt you as bad," said Hawkins. "They'll back them up a little bit farther in college. He's used to playing about 6,500 yards and they'll play about 7,200 or 7,300 in college. So that will be different starting off, but he'll adjust."

The ability to keep a level head while playing an often-times frustrating game, along with keeping the ball in the middle of the fairway, are a couple of Orhaood's strong points, according to his coach.

"He's right down the middle. He's not real long, but he's good with his putter and his short game," Hawkins said. "He's just right down the middle of the fairway and that makes a big difference in golf. But he's just a great kid; a great player. He's the kind of kid you want on your team. He's very consistent. He's going to shoot in the low 40s and low 80s. He's just a good golfer."

And with Orahood back for his senior season, expectations are high as always for the golf squad at Thayer High School.

"Well, we've won the district about the last 10 years, so we hope to win the distinct again and we think we've got a shot at state," Hawkins said. "They were fifth last year and we was right there, about three strokes behind getting in the top four. We've got most of those guys back (from last year's team) and we've got some good guys coming in, so we think we've got a shot to do some things."

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