0

Norcross' banner year continues with state golf championship

Zach Healy

Zach Healy

photo

Members of the Norcross boys golf team pose after winning the Class AAAAAA state championship on Monday. It was the fourth state title by a Norcross team this school year.

TIFTON — A remarkable year for Norcross athletics got even better Monday.

The Blue Devils edged Region 7-AAAAAA and Gwinnett County rival Peachtree Ridge by two strokes to win the Class AAAAAA state golf championship at Spring Hill Country Club. Low medalist Zach Healy led the victory with a sparkling 67, good for a four-shot individual state title.

The AAAAAA crown was Norcross' fourth in the 2012-13 school year, following sweeps of the boys and girls basketball titles as well as the school's first state football championship last December.

"It's been a great year at Norcross," said Blue Devil golf coach Chris Hall, who also won a state championship ring this school year as a football assistant coach. "The thing our guys kept saying was, 'We want our own ring.' They really wanted that. They wanted to leave a legacy."

They did that with the golf program's first state title, as well as just the second-ever boys golf state championship for Gwinnett County. The only other champion was Peachtree Ridge in 2009.

Healy played a major role in the historic day as his 67 was comfortably ahead of five golfers tied for second at 71, a group that included Peachtree Ridge's Zach Pritchard. The Norcross junior shot 35 and 32 on his two nines, fighting off a double bogey on his 12th hole that included two shots out of the woods and one into a hazard.

The Georgia-bound golfer, who also won the 7-AAAAAA individual title this season, finished the day with seven birdies.

"It's awesome, like icing on the cake for Norcross this year," Healy said. "We've got a great athletic school and it was great to get the first (state title) for golf. All of the guys are really happy."

Norcross finished as region runner-up to Peachtree Ridge this season and needed a strong showing at the sectional tournament to qualify for state. A 307 at sectionals was good for runner-up, providing some momentum into the state tourney.

The Blue Devils shot 294 at state, with seniors Clay Trocchio (73) and Patrick Haas (74) backing up Healy's round. Trocchio, who tied for 12th, shot 40-33 and Haas, who tied for 17th, shot 35-39. Fellow senior Jason Mendel, a South Alabama signee, shot 80, while juniors Evan Haas (84) and Nile Sakr (88) also shot in the 80s.

Healy was the last Blue Devil on the course and as he approached his final hole, he got word that a bogey or better would clinch the team title. With that knowledge, he blasted a long 3-wood into the fairway, put a sand wedge onto the green and lagged a birdie putt for an easy tap-in.

"I was hitting my irons good today," Healy said. "I putting it pretty close to the pin and I had a few putts drop."

Peachtree Ridge nearly won its second state golf title, riding four scores in the 70s to a 296. Johns Creek (300) was third, followed by Roswell (302) in fourth.

Pritchard's 71 led the Lions and Kevin Kim was just behind with a 72, tying for seventh. Michael Chong (76) and Charles Huntzinger (77) rounded out the scoring for the 7-AAAAAA champions.

"We played well, but we're disappointed (not to win)," Peachtree Ridge golf coach Bert Green said. "We didn't expect (a 67) from Healy."

Grayson finished 12th in the team standings, led by Conner Dickinson's 73, which was good for a 12th-place tie individually. The Rams also got a 76 from Dylan Heaser.

A pair of Brookwood individual qualifiers played well — Shawn Chong with a 75 and Patrick Kendrick with a 79.