Staff Photo: John Bohn Grayson's Matthew Wilson hits out of a bunker and onto the 11th green during the Region 8-AAAAA Boys Golf Championships held at Summit Chase Country Club in Snellville, Tuesday.
SNELLVILLE -- While most coaches and players involved in the Region 8-AAAAA boys golf tournament were not pleased with the gusty winds that swept through Summit Chase Country Club on Tuesday, Grayson coach Len Gregory looked at the situation from a different point of view.
"When I woke up this morning and saw the conditions, I thought, ... 'This is going to be a great thing for us,' because I know what kind of team we have,'" Gregory said.
Gregory's vision turned out to be spot on as the Rams posted four scores among the top 10 individuals -- all in the 80s on a day when scores in the 80s were at a premium -- for a team total of 327, good enough to claim their third consecutive region title by 17 strokes over runner-up Brookwood.
Two of those scores were identical rounds of 80 turned in by freshmen Conner Dickerson and Michael Clay, who wound up in a three-way playoff with fellow freshman Harold Lei of Dacula, which Dickerson won on the first extra hole to win the individual title.
"The kids have really stepped up and fought all year long," Gregory said of his team. "So (Tuesday) is very reflective of what kind of a team we've had this year. They went out there and they fought the elements and they found a way to win."
The same can be said of Dickerson, who couldn't have shared his coach's positive vision for the playoff after his tee shot on the first extra hole found the left-side fairway bunker on the par-4 first hole, while Clay and Lei each bombed theirs down the middle of the fairway and reached the green in regulation.
"I thought there was no way to come back," Dickerson said of his errant tee shot.
But his outlook got considerably better after blasting out of the bunker, and then chipping to leave himself with about a two-foot putt for par, a score that looked considerably better after his two opponents missed birdie opportunities.
"That took a little pressure off," Dickerson said. "It was just muscle memory from that point."
The muscle memory came in handy after both Clay and Lei missed their par putts, leaving Dickerson to tap in for his par to take the individual title.
Lei's appearance in the playoff earned him a spot in the Class AAAAA state tournament May 7 at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Augusta as the region's low medalist not representing one of the top two teams.
Dickerson and Clay and their teammates join him as Matthew Wilson and Kyle McCrary followed with rounds of 82 and 85 respectively, with the first three of those scorecards being posted among the early groups finishing their rounds to help the Rams post an early number.
Brookwood tried to match that success, with Beau Bowlin carding an early 83 and Patrick Kendrick finishing at 85 to help the Broncos post a team score of 344.
Parkview also had a strong day, led by an 84 from Drew Long to finish third in the team standings at 362, four strokes ahead of fourth-place Dacula.
But the Panthers were dealt a bad break when junior Aaron DeSilva, one of the team's top players, suffered an apparent shoulder injury during a swing and had to withdraw after just three holes.
South Gwinnett, paced by Kevin Geary's round of 86, rounded out the top five in the team standings with a score of 393.