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Court, Eagles win state titles

GREENSBORO -- Lauren Court hit one shot before the rain came.

By the time the Collins Hill junior reached her tee shot, the steady rain had begun. And it never stopped.

Even with the early morning tee time, Court wandered through plenty of puddles at The Plantation course at Reynolds Plantation, but the Eagles' No. 1 golfer didn't let the heavy and constant rain hurt her first appearance in the state tournament.

"It wasn't new," Court said of playing in the rain. "I knew what I had to do.

"There were some big puddles."

She never played too aggressive and focused on greens and fairways, shooting a title-taking 73 to grab the individual Class AAAAA state title and help Collins Hill win its first golf state championship.

"It has been a great day," Court said. "It was a ton of fun. My team is very excited and loud. I always have fun with them."

It's a good thing they have fun together, because the team's No. 2 golfer, Jackie Rajek, teed off in the group behind Court. The rest of the team finished its day by 2 p.m. and then had to wait more than three hours for the trophy.

Rajek shot an 85 to back up her teammate's winning score, and from her final putt to the end of a soggy day, the team's 158 score held. Tift County finished second with a 161. Brookwood shot a 176 and Grayson posted a 195.

The Court-Rajek combination earned the Eagles the 7-AAAAA crown, with the senior Rajek going low two weeks ago for the individual region title.

Rajek struggled a little in the sloppy conditions, but kept her focus over the final holes to finish off the Collins Hill championship.

"It was a lot of fun even though it felt like it was never going to end because of the rain," Rajek said of her only state tournament experience. "I am so excited because we have a state championship banner to hang in our cafeteria and picture. I am so excited to have our names up there. It's going to be awesome."

Rajek will play golf next year for Florida Southern College but leaves a strong golf legacy at Collins Hill. Under the watch of Rajek and Court, the Eagles' golf program has gone from average to champions. Collins Hill head coach Bob Warman lived through the rise to the title and when he helped hoist the title trophy Monday, it capped off a coaching career of more than three decades.

"I have never experienced a state championship," said Warman a longtime baseball coach before switching to golf. "It is something I wanted to do before I retired."

Warman does not plan to retire after this season. He aims to continue watch over a program he helped build.

The girls' team coach Brett Savage also lived through the lean years and put on the state champions hat as quickly as any of the golfers.

"When we first started, we didn't have a golfer (shooting) under 120," Savage said.

Even the scores that didn't go toward the team total were well under 120 on Monday. They were all done early and the team huddled around the scorer's table as group after group funneled in.

"It is nerve-racking," Court said of the long wait. "It's not over until that last score comes in.

"It was a (good) long week and weekend out with the team."

No other Gwinnett school finished as high as the Collins Hill girls, but the Norcross boys proved their Region 7-AAAAA title was no fluke.

The Blue Devil boys finished in a tie for third with Walton, getting a pair of 75s by Will Delahanty and Josh Klipstein. Region low medalist Ryan Trocchio shot a 76 and freshmen Jason Mendel shot 77.

The Blue Devils were well on their way home when Harrison edged Greenbrier for the boys title, but they were pleased with their play. They came just short of a No. 2 finish, but again beat defending state champion Peachtree Ridge. The Lions shot 311.

"At the least, we wanted to finish first among the Gwinnett County schools," Norcross coach Steve Sims said. "We are a good golf county.

"We were close. We were in the mix. I was proud of them."