Photo: David McGregor. Collins Hill's Jackie Rajek watches her drive on the sixth hole during the 7-AAAAA girls golf tournament Monday afternoon. Rajek shot a tournament-low 75 to help the Eagles win the region title.
WINDER -- As the scores trickled in at The Chimneys golf course in Winder, Bob Warman started to slowly shake a bottle of off-brand ginger ale.
When the Collins Hill golf coach new for sure, the shaking's pace picked up.
"I've been waiting seven years for this," Warman said.
With a team score of 151, the Collins Hill girls edged Chattahoochee by eight strokes to win the Region 7-AAAAA golf title and end years of near misses. Two years ago they finished third behind Mill Creek and North Gwinnett. The next year? Another third-place finish. The top two teams make the state tournament.
"I always knew we would do something in golf," Warman said. "I just didn't know I'd be around to see it happen."
Warman waited the longest, but the two third-place finishes were felt most by the two who powered the Eagles to Monday's region crown.
Lauren Court and Jackie Rajek play together most of the year. Outside of high school they play in regional tournaments, often together. A year apart in school, little separates the pair on the golf course. On Monday, one stroke separated the two from the top two spots in the region.
The senior Rajek, with a scrambling par out of two bunkers on her final hole, swiped low medalist honors from her younger teammate with a 75.
She plays the No. 2 golfer role for Collins Hill, but Monday was the senior's moment.
"It was good today," Rajek said. "We are all so excited, the whole team."
Court's 76 came from a strong finish she credits with a desire to help her friend Rajek go out on top. She labored through much of her round before finishing with three birdies in her final four holes.
"I knew I better get my act together," Court said. "I didn't want to let Jackie down in her senior year. I had to give it a run."
Court picked up her aggression over the final holes, including smacking a driver through a narrow bunker-lined fairway for one of her three birdies.
But even as Warman soaked Court, Rajek and their teammates Abbey Sparrow and Abbey Meyers with his ginger ale, the players, coaches and parents all turned their attention to Reynolds Plantation and this group's first trip to the state tournament.
"It's going to be fun," Rajek said. "It's going to be fun to play and see what happens."
"I think we can make a run at state," Court said. "We'll definitely scare some people."
The hope is Warman will need a bigger bottle of ginger ale. It will be the final time the two play together on the high school team. They know how to play tournament golf and now they finally get that chance on high school's biggest stage.
"I really think Jackie and I are both equipped to play at state," Court said. "To be together, it's special."