Jay Gilstrap has built a dynasty at Lakeside.
Lakeside's golf team won second place in Georgia's Class AAAA golf championship at the Golf Club of Columbus. State team members are Ryan Blackburn (back row, from left), Graham White, Jordan Riner, Payne Kassinger, Charlie Cason, coach Jay Gilstrap (front row, from left), assistant coach Kyle Kassinger, Tom Hardy and John Faulkner. Not shown are Matt Bielewicz, Trevor Balliet, Charles Holtzclaw, Ted Mulherin, Chris Hsieh, C.J. Blackman and Barrett Blackburn.
The Lakeside golf team finished second, one stroke behind state champion Etowah, at the Class AAAA state tournament at the Golf Club of Columbus on May 9.
It was the fourth straight season that the Panthers have finished in the top 10 in the state, following a third-place finish last season. It was also the best finish for the team since Lakeside won the state title in 1999, Gilstrap said.
"We had some pretty lofty expectations heading into the state tournament," he said. "We brought back a lot of letter-winners and thought we could win the title."
Although the Panthers came up one shot short, Payne Kassinger did not.
The senior shot a 2-under-par 69 to win Lakeside's first individual state title since 1999. He won by two shots.
"I am very proud of Payne," Gilstrap said. "He went out there and was 100 percent focused. He had goals and intentions. You could just tell by looking at him during our practice rounds. He wanted to prove that he could win the title."
Gilstrap said his team, consisting of three seniors and three freshman, was as deep as any team he has coached in 15 years. He carried an unusually large team of 14.
"We have so many good golfers here at Lakeside, I wanted to have a large team to choose from," he said. "If I didn't keep that many, I probably wouldn't have kept two of the freshmen that ended up on the state team."
Lakeside will graduate seven seniors off this team, including Kassinger and Ryan Blackburn, who has signed with Mercer.
"I believe we are at the point in our program where we don't have to rebuild," Gilstrap said. "Hopefully, we just reload."
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