Each year the Methodist College (N.C.) women's golf team faces the pressure of continuing its streak of NCAA Division III titles.
Spurred on by her desire to keep Methodist on top, Norcross grad Susan Martin found herself in a lofty position, too.
The sophomore won the NCAA Division III individual championship last weekend in Waverly, Iowa, helping powerhouse Methodist win its 11th straight national title. It wasn't all that close this time, with Martin's three-stroke victory over teammate and defending national champion Katie Dick leading the way.
Methodist won by a whopping 37 strokes.
"I had been hitting the ball well going in, so I was thinking maybe I had a chance (individually)," Martin said. "But there were some pretty good seniors there, including my teammate who won it all last year. My goal was just to help the team win. We have a very young team because we lost three seniors from last year. We didn't know how we'd do, so my main goal was to win it all as a team."
Martin got that and more.
She opened with a 74, then followed with a 72 to take the lead after two rounds. A third-round 75 kept her in front and a final-round 73 sealed an impressive victory.
All four of her tourney rounds on the links-style course were lower than her season scoring average of 78.8. They also came in windy conditions.
"I was kind of surprised by my scores," Martin said. "I guess you could say I peaked at the right time."
Not that she had played poorly during the season. Martin had four top-five finishes in 2007-08 tournaments.
Always a good ball-striker as a lifelong softball player who took up golf as a high school freshman, she has developed a sharper short game since starting college.
"My short game has changed drastically," Martin said. "There's a great practice facility on campus and an 18-hold course there. I just go down there and practice all the time. With Coach (Vici) Pate helping me, my short game has just improved so much."
Methodist has been a good fit for her golf game, but also for her career choice. One of her main reasons for attending the Fayetteville, N.C., school was for its professional golf management program - she hopes to enter the golf business if she doesn't make it playing on a tour.
Martin is getting a jump start with her golf career this summer with an internship at Twin Orchard Country Club in suburban Chicago.
Tice named SoCon player of the year
College of Charleston slugger Jeremie Tice, a Dacula grad, has been named the coaches' Southern Conference Player of the Year, one of three honors he racked up earlier this week.
Tice also was named the SoCon and national player of the week for the previous week, in which he hit .524 with an incredible seven home runs and 15 RBIs.
The junior has a .410 batting average with 22 home runs and 79 RBIs this season.
Locals make all-region
Four Gwinnett grads made Rawlings/ABCA All-Southeast Region Teams, including four first-teamers.
North Georgia teammates Rob Flanigan of South Gwinnett and Craig Brisson of Parkview were on the first team, as were Dacula grad Shannon Wilkerson of Augusta State and Central Gwinnett grad Cory Matticola of LaGrange College. Shiloh grad Jonnie Geiger of Columbus State made the second team.
North Georgia's Anders Oster, a Brookwood grad, was on the All-Southeast Region Gold Glove first team.
Snitker makes all-tourney
Brookwood graduate Troy Snitker, a freshman catcher for South Georgia, was named to the NJCAA Region XVII all-tournament team.
He was 3-for-4 with a home run in one game and caught every inning in the tournament as South Georgia (31-31) placed second to Young Harris.
Snitker, who batted .299, will transfer to NCAA Division II North Georgia for next season.
Munson named first-team All-American
Shorter College pitcher Libby Munson, a Collins Hill grad, was named an NAIA first-team All-American on Thursday.
The freshman right-hander was 28-5 with a 1.60 ERA this season, striking out 208 batters in 214 innings. She walked just 65 and held the opposition to a .199 batting average.
Munson, who was second on the team with a .410 batting average and first in hits (87) and doubles (21), also was named Region XIII Pitcher of the Year and Southern States Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year.
TRACK AND FIELD
Brusich wins A-Sun decathlon title
Parkview grad Evan Brusich of Gardner-Webb University (N.C.) was the co-champion in the decathlon at last weekend's Atlantic Sun Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Brusich placed second in the final event, the 1,500-meter run, in a school-record time of 4 minutes, 33.10 seconds to pick up 219 points on Campbell's Logan Brelsford. The two shared the championship with 5,935 points after Brelsford finished sixth in the 1,500.
Brusich won the discus and 110 hurdles competitions during the decathlon.
Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax to 770-339-8081.