The Lassiter and Kell boys and Walton girls each took third in their respective region tournaments and shot below their qualifying score to earn a berth to the Class AAAAAA and AAAAA sectionals, which will be played today or Tuesday at various sites. The Whitefield Academy girls finished fourth in the Area 4A, which is good enough for a Class A sectional berth, regardless of their team score.
If the rules from last season still applied, — only the top two teams from each region tournament would have qualified for state, and the Trojans, Longhorns, Lady Raiders and Lady Wolfpack’s seasons would be complete.
“I’m just thankful to have another opportunity,” Lassiter coach Butch Burden said. “If it was set up like last season, our season would be over. We’re just grateful we still have another opportunity to play.”
The sectional format was adapted this year to make sure the fields for the state tournaments included the best teams. There will still be 16 teams from each classification going to state, but the Georgia High School Association is attempting to do away with higher scores coming from lesser teams that represent weaker regions.
The Lassiter boys, which took fourth in state last season, was part of a tougher region with golf powers Roswell and Milton in Region 5AAAAAA. Lassiter took third with a 305 team score, which was well below the classification’s 330 qualifying score.
The Walton boys, who have been frequent visitors at state, was unable to qualify for sectionals after losing a playoff hole to Milton for fourth place in the region tournament.
The Trojans are playing their sectional at Brookfield Country Club and are one of 14 teams vying for eight state qualifying spots. Their field includes region rival Etowah, which finished second in the Region 5AAAAAA tournament, Milton and Kennesaw Mountain, led by last year’s individual Class AAAAA champion Jonathan Keppler.
Adam Wright, Max Weyrick and Brody Judd continue to be the leaders of the Trojans at the top three spots with Billy LeProhon and Justin Davie stepping up as of late at No. 4 and No. 5.
“We’ve been having some solid performances from our No. 4 and No. 5 slots, which is good. It’s always nice to have some depth,” Burden said. “Our top three boys have played solid all year long.”
After having such solid performances in tournament play throughout the season, Kell had somewhat of a letdown in the 7AAAAA tournament. Matthew Hines shot 80, which is five strokes above his average, and Mark Decoster, who shot 77 to lead the Longhorns.
Kell took third in the region tournament with a team total of 329, which is 11 shots lower than the qualifying score of 340. Good news for Kell is it will have to beat only one team to move on to state. The Class AAAAA boys sectional at Westlake Country Club in Augusta will have nine teams playing for eight spots.
“That’s the one thing we got lucky on,” Kell coach Craig Hines said. “We just have to make sure we’re not that one team (that gets eliminated). If we play like we’re capable of, we should qualify.”
The Walton girls have had some injury issues this season and may have had a different outcome in the 5AAAAAA tournament that they been 100 percent healthy.
Freshman Autumn Gabe broke an ankle toward the beginning of the season following a solid start and No. 2 golfer Meredith Singer shot 100 at region when she normally shoots in the 80s and it was later discovered she was playing with a broken thumb.
The Class AAAAAA girls sectional will be played Tuesday at the Country Club of Roswell. Walton will depend on leader Abbey Williams, who can shoot in the 70s, the less experienced Lisa van der Ross and Lindsey Seagraves to carry the Lady Raiders into the state tournament.
Walton has to finish in the top nine out of 13 teams.
“In any athletic season, you don’t know what will happen,” Myrick said. “I think we can qualify. Abbey’s playing well enough that she can offset a bad score.”
While the top four teams in Area 4A automatic berth to sectionals, getting into state will be tougher. Only the top four teams out of 12 will qualify.
The Mount Paran and Whitefield girls, led by Hadley Cannon and Madison Barnett respectively, will be playing today at the Goshen Plantation Golf Club in Augusta.
The Walker boys, who took second in Area 4A behind Mount Paran, will play at the Forest Hills Golf Club in Augusta. The Wolverines have a shot at advancing to state behind Cobb County Invitational tournament individual champion Joe Reich, and Barrett Kulik.