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Norcross finishes fourth at state tourney

Photo: David McGregor. Norcross golfer Will Delahanty follows through on a putt during his round of 77 during the Class AAAAA state golf tournament on Monday at Summit Chase Country Club in Snellville.

Photo: David McGregor. Norcross golfer Will Delahanty follows through on a putt during his round of 77 during the Class AAAAA state golf tournament on Monday at Summit Chase Country Club in Snellville.

SNELLVILLE -- Summit Chase Country Club proved to be quite challenging in hosting the Class AAAAA state boys golf championships for the first time.

Only three players managed to break par and only two teams managed to break 300 during Monday's round.

While Gwinnett's group of individuals and teams put in a fine showing, none of the local teams -- or any other team, for that matter -- could keep up with the trio of Lowndes, Milton and Harrison.

Lowndes got outstanding rounds of 4-under par 68 and 3-under 69 from twin brothers Joseph and Sam Straka to post a score of 293, two strokes better than Milton's 295 and seven ahead of Harrison's 300, to claim the team title.

However, it didn't take that long of a trip down the leaderboards to find Gwinnett representatives.

Paced by a 1-over round of 73 from Jason Mendel, Norcross came in fourth in the 16-team field by shooting 309, just one stroke ahead of Region 7-AAAAA rival Mill Creek, which finished fifth at 310, led by rounds of 75 from Michael Martin, 76 from Emerson Newsome and 78 from Sun Kim.

"Last year, we finished tied for third," Norcross coach Steve Sims said. "So, two years of winning the region and finishing in the top five at the state tournament, it's a big deal for us at Norcross. We're real proud of the kids. They've established themselves as one of the top five golf programs in the state, which is great for our school."

Norcross also got strong rounds of 77 from Will Delahanty and 79 from Chris Trocchio, but it was Mendel's round of 73 that set the tone for the Blue Devils, as it left him among a group of six golfers that included fellow Gwinnettians Ted Moon of Parkview and Bailey Ulp of North Gwinnett, who finished tied for fifth.

While most of the field put up most of their numbers on the front nine before struggling on the back nine, Mendel followed up a solid 37 on the first nine holes by coming in a even-par 36 with a stretch that included back-to-back birdies on holes 14 and 15.

"I kept bouncing around birdie, bogey, birdie, bogey a lot," said the sophomore, who was in the group with Moon, Ulp and others that trailed only the Straka brothers, Michael Pisciotta of Alpharetta (1-under 71) and Harrison's Michael Garretson (72). "But I got back-to-back birdies (on No. 14 and 15). I stuck it close on 17, but lipped out (the putt) for birdie, and I had a good sand shot on the late hole (to save par). So, it was a good day.

"This was a fun year. I had fun with the team. We just came up a little short."

Mill Creek may have come up just short of Norcross for Gwinnett's top finish, but the Hawks' performance has assistant coach Tim Keag encouraged.

"I really thought we'd do better," Keag said. "I know they're a little disappointed, but all in all, I think we had a good year. They did the best they could out there."

Gwinnett's other two teams in the field also had some strong rounds.

Brookwood had two golfers break 80 -- Kyle Guidry and 76 and Joseph Farrungia at 77 -- to post a team score of 318, good for eighth place.

Meanwhile, Grayson finished in 14th place with a 324, led by Tyler Carr's round of 79.