Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fierce Internal Rivalry

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Fierce Internal Rivalry

Article excerpt

Thomas La Morte and Cindy Ha have been rivals as much as teammates during their four standout years at Demarest High School.

La Morte and Ha have competed against each other almost as much as against opponents, and drove each other to become better golfers.

"Me and Thomas, we bicker and we fight and we get along like siblings," Ha said.

La Morte and Ha may be North Jersey's all-time best boy-girl duo, and they headline the cast of locals selected to the New Jersey PGA All-State team.

La Morte and Ha were among the 10 boys and 10 girls chosen first- team All-State, based on an NJPGA scoring system that takes into account league, county, sectional and, most importantly, state tournaments.

Bergen Catholic seniors Erick Alonso and Zach Egermayer earned boys second team, as did Ridgewood senior Nic Morabito. Midland Park senior Ryan Coughlin is third team. Bergen Tech junior Nicole Kim made the girls five-player second team.

Watchung Hills' Mike Graboyes was NJPGA Boys Player of the Year after winning the Tournament of Champions title. Montgomery senior Alice Chen repeated as Girls Player of the Year after winning another state title.

Ha, 17, is a four-time first-team All-State pick and earned a scholarship to powerhouse Vanderbilt. Ha won this year's Bergen County title, and her seventh place at the 14th annual State Championship made her the first North Jersey girl to crack the top seven all four years. She is a two-time Record Girls Golfer of the Year.

This is La Morte's fourth consecutive year making first-, second- , or third-team All-State. La Morte won the Bergen County individual championship, the Group 3 title, and was runner-up among more than 110 golfers at the Tournament of Champions at Hopewell Valley Golf Club in Hopewell.

La Morte, 18, said hearing so many people over the past few years rave about Ha irked him, but it motivated him to work harder and play better this season.

"That got under my skin this year," said La Morte, who is The Record Boys Golfer of the Year and earned a scholarship to Campbell. "And I just really worked hard so they would know my name, too."

Alonso and Egermayer led Bergen Catholic to the Tournament of Champions title. …

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