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New feel for state golf tourney

Riding a run of three consecutive region titles, Peachtree Ridge's boys arrived at the 7-AAAAA tournament with a bit of a swagger.

And slightly too much confidence.

"It was a little unexpected," Lions' coach Bert Green said of Norcross' run to the title. "We may have been a little overconfident. We may have though we could walk in and play our game and win."

A late low score from Ben Lee salvaged a second-place finish for the defending state champions pushing them to their fourth straight state tournament, but as underdogs, teeing off the with runners-up on the back nine.

It's a new spot for the Lions. It's a new course for the Class AAAAA state tournament at Reynolds Plantation. Newness is everywhere.

This will be the first trip ever for region champ Norcross to the state tournament and several other Gwinnett schools including the girls 7-AAAAA winner Collins Hill.

The Blue Devils road a low medalist round of 71 by Ryan Trocchio to their region crown and title berth, but Norcross is after more than just a good showing.

"They are excited, but they are focused," said Norcross coach Steve Sims. "They want to go down there and win, that is their focus. I thought they might be happy just to be there, but they want to go down there and win."

Only the team's No. 1 Trocchio has played the course before, but like other teams, Norcross will play two practice rounds before teeing off Monday morning.

Norcross has an experienced team, with mostly upperclassmen and they made runs at a state berth in the past, but always came up short.

And they aren't the only ones finally reaching the elusive tournament.

The Collins Hill girls dethroned perennial 7-AAAAA champs Mill Creek to earn their first trip to state. The two-time defending state champion Hawks won't even make the trip, finishing out of the top two.

"We looked at our whole season as preparation for the state tournament," Collins Hill girls coach Brett Savage said. "Our girls are pretty confident. We just want them to play confident."

Though 7-AAAAA hogged the state titles last season, Brookwood and Grayson will send both boys and girls teams to Reynolds Plantation to represent 8-AAAAA, but both will need to shoot record lows to challenge either the Lions or the Blue Devils on the boys' side or the Eagles on the girls' side.

But Monday's state title tournaments cut a swath across all classifications and other Gwinnett teams and players will tee off across Georgia.

Defending state champions Wesleyan, led by Taylor Blair, play at the Bull Creek Golf Club alone with teams from Providence and Hebron.

The GAC girls look to regain the state title last won in 2007 to cap off Lindsay Adams' senior season. And Spartan Spencer Coakely will represent the GAC boys as low medalist from 6-AA.

In AAAAA, the trip this year is much closer than previous trips to Jekyl Island, but all the teams played practice rounds this weekend. The course is new to nearly every player and the state tournament is new to even more.

"We expect to have a pretty good time," Green said. "We just need to have a nice culmination on Monday to win it."