The Harrison boys golf program found a way to keep their streak alive by winning the Region 4AAAAA tournament Tuesday at Bentwater Golf Club. It extended a streak of region titles than began in 1998 — before some of the team’s younger players had even been born.
The Hoyas found themselves in a much closer match than they’d seen over the last few years.
Kennesaw Mountain had a one-shot lead with one player from each team left on the course, but Harrison’s sixth player, Sam Maryland, shot a team-low 79 — the tournament’s runner-up mark — to help the Hoyas pull out the victory with a team total of 329.
“We didn’t talk about (the streak) before hand,” said first-year coach Dennis Attaway. “I didn’t want to add any pressure. But we’re blessed with a lot of players that can come in and shoot the low score for the day. We actually have eight players that compete (like that), and I think it helps the guys concentrate on their games, and it makes them work harder.”
Kennesaw Mountain finished second with a team total of 338 to earn its second trip to the state championship.
This year’s Class AAAAA tournament will take place May 7 at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Evans.
“It was our goal from the get-go to qualify for state,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Chris Walker said. “We’re real young. We’re only going to lose one senior, so we’re going to try to soak up the atmosphere, play the best we can and enjoy it, learn from it, and then, next year, we’ll be that much better.”
One person who thinks Kennesaw Mountain has a chance to play well in Augusta is freshman Jonathan Keppler, who earned medalist honors with a 78 on the 6,517-yard, par-72 course — despite winds that affected many of the golfers’ scores.
“I think we can do pretty well at state,” Keppler said. “If we all play our best, I think we could finish in the top five.”
Keppler may be right if everyone else on the team follows his lead.
His round Tuesday was nothing if not consistent. Keppler hit 13 greens, kept hitting the ball in the fairway and made good decisions all the way around the course. The only thing that wasn’t working was his putting.
“I couldn’t make a putt,” he said.
South Cobb’s Tommy Swearingen and Campbell’s Patrick Wheeler each shot 83 and tied for fifth in the individual standings. Being the low scorers not already on a team that had qualified for state, the pair began a playoff for the last individual qualifying spot.
Swearingen shot 37 on his final nine to make the playoff, and he kept his momentum going, winning the trip to state on the first extra hole.
Harrison’s Jacob Paquet shot 80 to finish third and was followed by Kennesaw Mountain’s Cole Hunsucker (82). Hunsucker’s teammate, Alex Krall, tied Campbell’s Vitthal Parker for seventh at 84, while Harrison’s Sam Eanes and Nick Bell each had 85 to round out the top 10.
Hillgrove finished third in the team standings with a score of 362, followed by Campbell (381), North Cobb (399) and McEachern (401). South Cobb and Pebblebrook did not have enough players to post a team score.