CONCORD -- Recent De La Salle High graduate Justin Pagila made quite a mark on the Spartans' golf program.
"A true leader and one of the greatest competitors I've ever seen in any sport, at any level," said Leo Lopoz, the Spartans golf coach and athletic director.
Pagila, who tied the course record with a 9-under 62 at Diablo Country Club in the De La Salle Invitational, has been selected as the Bay Area News Group's East Bay Boys Golfer of the Year.
"I think my game has grown a lot at De La Salle, not only physically but mentally," Pagila said. "I learned to remove certain distractions. I wanted to really dial it in out there and focus on every single shot and not let things bother me."
Pagila was a combined 4 under in the season's big three postseason tournaments: North Coast Section Tournament of Champions (6-under 66), NorCal (3-under 69) and state (5-over 76).
At state, Pagila's career didn't conclude the way he'd hoped. He shot a 44 on the back nine and wound up tied for 28th. Consider it an aberration in a season in which he was a combined 10-under for 11 of the 14 East Bay Athletic League dual matches, and was named league MVP.
Pagila is always pushing himself, testing his resolve. During a practice round at Diablo Grande Golf Club in Patterson, a friend bet him that he couldn't break 80 after doing 20 push-ups before every shot.
He won the bet, breaking par. Pagila is excited to be heading to the Army in West Point, N.Y., where more tests are in store.
"I'll do what I'm doing now but for something big, something bigger than myself," Pagila said. "That's one of the reasons I love high school golf so much, because when I'm out there it's not just about me."
Of his record 62 score, Pagila said it was one of the few rounds in which he executed most of his shots exactly how he wanted.
"That never happens," he said. " It's not really supposed to happen that way. It was just a good day."