EVANS - A new dawn may be on the horizon for the Eastside boys golf team as one senior, two sophomores and three freshmen battled a tough course and finished seventh Monday in the Class AAAA boys golf tournament at Bartram Trail Golf Course.
Eastside finished with a team score of 317. Their score was good enough to beat out four region champions, including Region 8-AAAA champion Habersham Central who finished 15th of 16 with a team score of 330.
"I told the kids our goal was to be in the top eight, finish in the top 50 percent and they reached it. It was a tough day on a tough course and they played well," Eastside boys coach Jay Cawthon said. "That goes to show the character of the kids. We're a young team and that was a great experience. I hope that we have three more of these for our three freshman."
Prior to Monday, the best Eastside ever finished in a state golf tournament was 11th.
The team could have done better had it not combined for an 8-over-par on the final two holes.
The greens also cost senior Taylor Smith a chance to contend for the medalist honor. The problem was not getting to the greens for Smith, who found the greens in regulation on 16 of the 18 holes, it was adjusting to their speed.
"The last two holes they played were tough holes, a par 3 and a par 5. We definitely did throw away some strokes, but everybody did it if you watched the last two holes," Cawthon said. "(Smith) probably played one of his best rounds ball striking-wise. He was just missing putts. The greens were slick, but he's still one heck of a player."
Smith led the team with a 77 followed by freshman Tate Miller (78), sophomore J.T. Blaker (79) and freshman Ace Cook (83).
Also participating, but not scoring, were sophomore Taylor Lazenby (85) and freshman Nick Green (95).
Individually, Smith finished in the top 16 of 98 players.
Of the scores better then Smith's, only four were below par including medalist Derek Chang of Marist who dominated the course with a round of 67.
But his 67 was not good enough to give Marist the team win.
Richmond Academy, who play its home matches at Bartram Trail, beat out Marist 292-293 to win the state title. Two years ago, the Musketeers won the state title in Class AAA.
Also finishing in the top six were Greenbrier (297), who will jump up to Class AAAAA next year and be in the same region as Newton, Northwest Whitfield (302) and Woodward Academy (306) and St. Pius (308).
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.