HOMER — Three of the top four girls teams in the Class AAAAAAA State Golf Tournament hailed from Gwinnett. However, the team champion did not.
Lambert returned to the top Tuesday with a two-day score of 452 for a comfortable win over runner-up Mill Creek (469), and third-place North Gwinnett (496) and fourth-place Peachtree Ridge (500) made it a Gwinnett-heavy leaderboard at Chimney Oaks Golf Club. The championship was the sixth in seven years for Lambert, which saw its five-year run of state titles broken last season by North.
Mill Creek, Lambert’s closest competition, finished as state runner-up for the third straight year. The Hawks trailed Lambert by two shots after Monday’s first round, but could not match the Longhorns’ finish led by individual champion Averi Cline (74-73) and runner-up Rachel Burrell (77-71).
“I thought we played really well (Monday) and gave ourselves a chance,” Mill Creek coach David Allen said. “The 233 (in the first round) is probably one of the lowest scores we’ve had this year. I liked our chances going into this morning, but I knew we were going to have to play at our best. You’ve got to give credit to Lambert. A 221 is strong. Hat’s off to them. They did a heck of a job.”
Cline and Burrell were backed up by a 77 from Iris Cao in the second-round 221 for Lambert, which is coached by Brookwood grad and former Gwinnett coach Chris Roy.
Vanderbilt recruit Tess Davenport led the way for Mill Creek in third place individually at 150, two shots behind Burrell and three off Cline’s winning total. Davenport held the first-round lead with a 73, one ahead of Cline, but wasn’t at her best in a second-round 77.
She had three bogeys and two double bogeys before an eagle on the par-5, 15th hole got her back to 5 over. She had another eagle putt on the par-5, 18th, but ended up three-putting for par.
“Tess is phenomenal,” Allen said. “She’s one of those players, she doesn’t need any help. She does her thing and she knows her game better than anybody. I’m happy for her and her high school career. I can’t wait to watch her at Vanderbilt. She’s going to be an asset for them.”
Mill Creek’s other three players are back next season. Grace Chung surged with a second-round 77 after an opening 81, bumping her into an eighth-place tie with North’s Alice Acosta. Acosta also made a move Tuesday with a 76 after a first-round 82. Georgia Stonecypher (79-82) was Mill Creek’s other scorer and was 15th individually.
Yedam Lee led Peachtree Ridge’s fourth-place finish by taking fourth individually. After an opening 78, she closed with 73 to finish one shot behind Davenport at 151. The Lions’ Bridget Hoang (81-82) tied for 16th.
In addition to Acosta, North had three other golfers in the top 30 — Lauren Ebeling (tie for 26th, 86-84), Lauren Maher (tie for 29th, 87-84) and Anna Kate Loeffler (tie for 29th, 82-89).
Parkview’s Lily Hart, an individual qualifier, tied for 26th (84-86). The only other Gwinnett team that qualified was Brookwood, which finished 13th in the 14-team field.
North boys lead way at Hamilton Mill
DACULA — Working at Hamilton Hill Golf Club last summer, North Gwinnett's Preston Harris put his knowledge to good use Tuesday.
The senior dropped six shots off his Day 1 performance to shoot a 75 on the final day of the Class AAAAAAA Boys State Tournament and helped the Bulldogs to a third-place finish. Their 305 on Tuesday was a program best for the state tournament and just one stroke off second-place Walton.
“It was a difficult day out there with the heat,” North Gwinnett head coach Bryan Sellers said. “The scores were a lot better overall, but we had some kids that around (No.) 13, 14, they were gassed with how hot it is today. That obviously affected us down the stretch.
“After not feeling great after yesterday's round, starting hot out of the gate and finishing, I'm proud of them.”
No one was able to derail West Forsyth. The Wolverines won by 10 shots.
Mill Creek, with Brandon Yau finishing tied for third overall, was sixth and Brookwood was 12th.
North moved up a spot after the first round, led by a 74 from Garland Pierce. Harris was just one shot off that pace, a dramatic improvement over his opening-round 81, which wasn't counted toward the team total.
“I think I wasn't really focused right from the start (of the tournament),” Harris said. “I was a little shaky. I was very nervous. But today, I was really excited to go out with a bang, try to pull us through.
“I'm very proud of my team, how we finished coming into the second round."
North was fourth in the team standings after Monday. A quick start from Harris helped spark the Bulldogs. He birdied three of the first four holes and just burned the edge of a birdie putt on No. 5. Harris birdied No. 7 and 11 as well.
“The conditions were good to go out strong,” he said, “and my putting was just on today.”
Playing the course regularly, though, Harris knew getting to the green sometimes requires a little patience. There are a few holes where an aggressive approach won't pay off.
“There's a par-5 on the back side that bends to the right,” he said. “A lot of players try to go for that and cut the corner. I think it's better just to put a nice 3- or 4-wood up the middle.”
Harris was followed by 78s from Jacob Shepherd and Palmer Kahren. Modeling consistency, Rasmus Eriksson, who led the Bulldogs with a 76 on Day 1, also shot 78 and Bryce Fowler had an 80 that weren't needed for the total.
“I can't express how proud I am of them,” Sellers said. “They're great guys with great parents. Our whole team, top to bottom, is an unbelievable group to be around. I'm just lucky to be the coach.”
Mill Creek was led by Aaron Eigenbauer and Matthew Chung, who both shot 75. Chung improved his round by 11 shots.
Yau came into the final day alone in second place overall after an opening 1-under-71, and closed the tournament with a 76.
Brookwood’s Anmol Jhangra tied for eighth at 6-over and Pierce tied for 11th at 8-over.
Walton's Matthew Feste was the low medalist with an even-par 144.
Buchanan paces Buford
CARROLLTON — The Buford boys turned in a record-setting round Tuesday during the second day of action at the Class AAAAA state golf tournament at Sunset Hill Golf Club.
Led by Jackson Buchanan’s round of 5-under par 67, the Wolves posted a team score of 301 — the fourth-best score among the 12 teams for the day, and 18 shots better than Monday’s first round — good for a Buford school record, and placing them sixth overall over the 36-hole, two-day event with a score of 620.
Meanwhile, Buford’s girls also had a double-digit improvement from their first round during Tuesday’s final round, also at Sunset Hills.
Kamryn Roberts shot 89 to lead a team round of 278, leaving the Wolves in seventh place overall with a 36-hole score of 571.
“I’m really proud of the way both teams competed (Tuesday),” Buford coach Justin Johnson said. “The goal for the day was to be better than (Monday), and our girls improved by (15) shots, while our boys set a school record and had improved by 18 this overall.
“I thought we shoed tremendous mental toughness, and I’m proud of the way we represented Buford this week.”
Buchanan’s round Tuesday added to Monday’s round of 77 left him sixth in the individual standings with an 2-over par 144.
Two other Wolves broke 80 on Tuesday, with Nick Allison shooting 75 and Walt Smith following closely behind at 76. Spenser Sutherland also scored for Buford with an 83.
For the girls, Roberts’ 89 came after a first-round score of 87 Monday that left her tied for 10th individually at 176. Also scoring for the Wolves Tuesday were Natalie Cranney with a 93 and Toni Telenta at 96.
Hsu shines in AAAAAA
ACWORTH — Lanier senior Sarah Hsu followed up Monday’s first-round score of 75 with a 78 to finish with in sixth place individually at the Class AAAAAA state girls golf tournament Tuesday at Cobblestone Golf Course in Acworth.
Hsu’s effort also helped lead the Longhorns to a 15th-place finish in the team standings with a 36-hole total of 616.
Meanwhile, Dacula’s Annie Ballew competed as an individual, and wound up 46th after rounds of 99 Monday and 96 Tuesday for a total of 195.
Meanwhile at nearby Woodmont Golf Club in Canton, Lanier’s Jackson Cross competed as an individual in the AAAAAA boys tournament and carded a 77 Tuesday, which combined with his round of 76 Monday left him tied for 25th overall.
Dacula wound up 16th in the boys team standings at 667, Braden Hochgertle, who shot matching rounds of 79 to finish in 45th place at 158.
Wesleyan teams finish in top 10
COLUMBUS — Led by an 80 in draining conditions by Jada Richardson, the Wesleyan girls golf team finished sixth at the Class A-Private championship tournament Tuesday at Green Island Country Club. The sophomore dropped four shots off her Day 1 round.
Freshman Connor Carroll shot an 18-hole season low 89 in the first round to help the Wolves. She followed it with a 93 on Tuesday, scoring along with juniors Sarah Shin (102) and Paris Kidder (124).
“As a team, the girls kept their heads on straight amid the heat and exhaustion,” head coach Cameron Alexander said. “They hit some amazing shots. Our putts were a little off, but I'm so proud of the way they performed.”
The Wesleyan boys regrouped on Day 2 to beat out Savannah Country Day to finish ninth at Green Island. The Wolves entered the final round tied with Savannah Country Day and the eighth-place team was out of reach, 17 shots ahead.
Wesleyan was playing without junior Will Stakel, who shot a 68 at the area tournament. Stakel's grandfather died Friday and Stakel was out of the state to be with family.
“We totally understand and support him,” head coach Andy Free said. “We had some new golfers step up.”
The lone senior, Ryan Gomes, was a key factor Tuesday with a 37 over the final nine and an 82 for the round. Gomes' first round wasn't one that counted to the team total.
Alternate Jeffrey Hullinger, a sophomore who wasn't even going to play, shot an 80 to lead the Wolves.
“It was extremely hot and humid,” Free said. “I was giving them water every two or three holes and we were able to start in the morning. The girls didn't start until 1.
“So given the circumstances, I felt like the team did a good job.”
Wesleyan was paced by junior Michael Mele's 77 in the first round. Sophomores Brogan MacInnis (81) and Luke Jackson (83), and junior Sims Johnson (84) rounded out the scorers.