The Kennesaw Mountain freshman capped them by shooting a 5-under 67 on Monday to claim the state individual medalist honor at the Class AAAAA boys state golf championship.
Held over the par-72, 6,563-yard Bluff and Island courses at Champions Retreat Golf Club, Keppler made the turn after carding a 4-under 32 and then played the back nine in 1-under. One of the earliest finishers, around 1:45 p.m., it wasn’t until more than two hours later that all of the scores were posted and he was declared the champion.
While he waited, Keppler sat and often buried his head beneath his cap, afraid to look at the leaderboard and stunned that he played so well, all the while fearing that his score wouldn’t hold up. But, it did.
“I always hoped to have my season end with region and state championships, but not as a freshman,” said Keppler who shot 78 two weeks ago to win the Region 4AAAAA individual medalist title. “Maybe as an upperclassman, so this is a big surprise. My putting really came through this week, especially on the back nine when it mattered most.
“I’m pretty excited. I just wanted to come out and play well. I didn’t expect this much out of myself, but to win is a great feeling.”
As a team, the Mustangs tied Brookwood for 13th with a score of 328. Milton won the state championship after carding 302. Benedictine (303) was second, followed by Alpharetta (304), Lassiter (308) and Norcross (308). Walton (311) was seventh and Harrison (319) finished 10th.
The Trojans’ Michael Toler carded a par-72 to finish tied for fifth among the 102 golfers who’s scores counted. Max Weyrick (78) and Andrew Couch (78) tied for 26th.
“It was nice to see our two seniors, Toler and Couch, shoot well,” Lassiter coach Butch Burden said. “Finishing in the top five is a great credit to these guys. They’ve been together for three years now and this is well-earned. We would have like to have won, but Milton’s a good team. We’ll see them in (our) region next year.”
Walton’s Matt Flynn (75) tied for 13th, while Michael Sheahan (77) and David Yowell (79) tied for 22nd and 33rd, respectively.
“The guys are disappointed,” Walton coach Mike Davidson said. “We didn’t play as well as we could. We thought we had a shot at it coming in. I’m proud of their effort and for what they’ve done all season.”
Jacob Paquet (71), who tied for third, was the lone Harrison golfer to shoot in the 70s.
“This was Jacob’s first round where he’s shot under par,” Hoyas coach Dennis Attaway said. “So for him to get 71 on this course is quite an accomplishment. Our goal was to score under 310, but we got 319, so that’s not where we wanted to be. I’m proud of the guys though for their effort.”
Cole Hunsucker (75) also had a good round for Kennesaw Mountain in tying for 13th, but it was Keppler’s performance that stole the show.
“(Keppler) got into a groove the last few weeks of the season and it just kept going,” Kennesaw mountain coach Chris Walker said. “He’s pretty much made par or better in every match. He was on fire (Monday). It’s the best tournament round he’s shot.”
South Cobb’s Tommy Swearingen carded an 81 to finish tied for 44th.