Lakeside's boys golf team traveled to Calhoun, Ga., last year to bring home a Class AAAA state championship. This year, the state tournament is coming to them.
Bartram Trail, located off Columbia Road in Grovetown, will be the site for the 2007 boy's golf state championship tournament. Lakeside will serve as the host school.
"Five years ago, the (Greater) Augusta Sports Council hosted it with my help also, and they were interested in bringing it back again to the Augusta area," Lakeside boys golf coach Jay Gilstrap said. "They contacted the state and put in for the hosting of it, and the state then responded that they needed a host school to be associated with it. So, they contacted me and a couple other schools in the area to see if we would be interested in hosting."
The Greater Augusta Sports Council made the original pitch to bring the one-day state tournament back to the area. Gilstrap said the area organization also led the way in bringing the Class AAAA girls golf state tournament to Forest Hills in Augusta this year. Greenbrier will serve as the host school for that event.
Though the schools are the official hosts, neither is guaranteed a spot in the state championship field.
"We're hoping to be there, but it's not a guarantee at this point," Gilstrap said. "Just the top two teams in the region will go."
That's a tall order for area high school boys teams. Lakeside, the defending state champs in Class AAAA, will face new competition in the region from Richmond Academy. The Musketeers, in Class AAA last season, also claimed a boys golf state championship.
Gilstrap said improved boys squads at Greenbrier and Statesboro will make earning one of two state tournament bids even more difficult. Even though the reputation of a defending state champion is intimidating, Gilstrap said it guarantees very little.
"Marist had a tough region a couple of years ago. They were in the same situation that we're in," Gilstrap said. "They won state in '03 and got all their players back in '04, but they had a pretty tough region themselves and they didn't make it out of their region. That could happen to Lakeside or Richmond."
Though their ticket to the state tournament hasn't been officially punched, the Panthers like the idea of competing for a repeat title in their own back yard.
"They know it's going to be there, so a lot of them are taking their own time out and playing the course and getting to know it as best as they can," Gilstrap said.
The Class AAAA boys golf state tournament at Bartram Trail and the Class AAAA girls golf state tournament at Forest Hills will take place on May 7.
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