Thursday September 21st, 2017 1:33PM

Golf: Gainesville boys and girls close out dominant showing with Hall Co. titles

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
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CHESTNUT MOUNTAIN -- Just how dominant is Gainesville golf these days?

Consider that the Red Elephants shot what may have been a tournament record 283 over the course of the Hall County Championships on Monday and Tuesday -- and were disappointed they didn't do better.

Also consider that, of the three seniors on the Lady Red Elephants' squad, all three can now call themselves Hall County individual champions, as they won a third straight individual championship to go along with a seventh straight team title.

In fact the Hall County Championships looked more like the Gainesville High Open on Tuesday at Royal Lakes Golf Club in Chestnut Mountain, as the Red Elephants swept every available honor.

"Obviously we're playing well right now," said Gainesville boys coach Bryson Worley after watching his team win its third straight tournament of the season -- continuing a streak of victories that reaches back to 2012, including two state crowns. "When I'm cheering them up over finishing 6-over today, that says something about how much they want to be successful."

Red Elephants standout Spencer Ralston fired his way to a 3-under 69 to take the boys individual crown, capping a day that saw four Gainesville players finish in the top six.

Gainesville girls coach Clay McDonald says he sees the same hunger amongst his veteran squad.

"Coming back this year I've already seen a change in my seniors," McDonald said. "They were disappointed with the way things ended last season at the state tournament. Now they're hungry, and they want to go out with a bang."

On Tuesday that meant competing against not only the course but also each other, as Madeline Harr, Meg Callahan and Morgan Reece each tied for the individual title through regulation with rounds of 84.

Harr broke the dead-heat courtesy a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 1 in a sudden death playoff, joining Callahan and Reece as Hall County individual champions.

"I hit that putt and, I mean it, it just barely dropped in," Harr said. "And if I hadn't hit it, I know Meg would have dropped hers (to win). ... I like it a lot that each one of us has won a Hall County title. We have so much fun out there. We're best friends and we encourage each other the whole way. And we completely swap places every week as to who puts up the best score. And with the way Ashleigh (Bishop) is playing too, it gives us so much confidence as a team."

It is a factor that also defines the Gainesville boys' success, and the Hall County Championships only served to illustrate it further, as Lawson King opened the tournament with a 5-under 31 on Monday only to watch teammate Spencer Ralston card the best round on Tuesday, shooting an even-par 36 to notch a two-day 69 and the individual championship.

"If one guy doesn't play well we know that someone else will back the other guy up -- it's a very encouraging feeling," Ralston said. "We're playing great right now as a team, though I don't think we played as well as we could today."

The course had something to do with that on Tuesday, as the boys worked their way through a back nine that did not allow a single player to break par.

"The first seven holes I was 3-over today, and I didn't get anything going until No. 17," said Ralston, who caught fire on 17 and 18, dropping a five-foot birdie putt on 17 before draining a 60-foot putt on No. 18. "I feel like we could have broken the school record again today if we had played like we did on Monday."

After smashing the 34-year-old record of 289 with a jaw-dropping 270 last weekend, Gainesville again dipped below the old mark on Tuesday -- while officials believed they had also broken a county tournament record (though it was unconfirmed as of publication time).

King finished with a 1-under 71 after posting a 40 on Tuesday -- which wasn't even counted -- while Nathan Williams fired a 37 to finish at 2-under 70. Jackson Bishop also posted a 75 over the two days, including a 39 on Tuesday. Grant Lasseter's 38 on Tuesday was also counted.

"It was a tough set up today; the back nine gives you a lot more trouble here -- but I saw our guys fight and come through," Worley said. "For us it's about dominating the golf course, and that's what they've done so far."

North Hall finished as boys runner-up, firing a 346, including Hunter Young's 80 after back-to-back rounds of 40. Flowery Branch came in third with a 349, paced by Alden Jackson's 77 (39, 38). Lakeview finished in fourth at 392, led by an 83 (43, 40) from John Jacobs. Johnson was fifth (396), East Hall sixth (419), Chestatee seventh (427) and West Hall eighth (442).

Gainesville's girls, meanwhile, recorded Bishop's 39 and Reece's 40 to finish with a 79 on the day and a two-day total of 160 -- 40 strokes better than second place West Hall's 200.

"It's fitting that all three seniors we have are now Hall County champs because they've been working together since middle school and have embraced and bought in to the program -- and they've been through a lot together," McDonald said. "On the one hand it's kind of tough to see all three of them competing and know that only one can win, but there's a lot of pride in coming this far together. And then you have Ashleigh playing so well too. It's great to see."

Bishop's 87 (48, 39) was good enough for fourth place individually. North Hall's Haley Twiggs was close behind with a two-day 88 (48, 40), helping the Lady Trojans to third with a 203.

Johnson finished fourth with a 205, while Flowery Branch was fifth (214) and Chestatee sixth (220).

Monday-Tuesday, Royal Lakes Golf Club, Chestnut Mountain

1. Gainesville, 133-150 -- 283
2. North Hall, 174-172 -- 346
3. Flowery Branch, 171-178 -- 349
4. Lakeview Academy, 199-193 -- 392
5. Johnson, 195-201 -- 396
6. East Hall, 204-215 -- 419
7. Chestatee, 209-218 -- 427
8. West Hall, 223-219 -- 442

1. Spencer Ralston, Gainesville, 36-39 -- 69
2. Nathan Williams, Gainesville, 33-37 -- 70
3. Lawson King, Gainesville, 31-40 -- 71
4. Jackson Bishop, Gainesville, 36-39 -- 75
5. Alden Jackson, Flowery Branch, 39-39 -- 77
6. Hunter Young, North Hall, 40-40 -- 80
tie, Brady Holcomb, Gainesville, 39-41 -- 80

1. Gainesville, 81-79 -- 160
2. West Hall, 99-101 -- 200
3. North Hall, 106-97 -- 203
4. Johnson, 107-98 -- 205
5. Flowery Branch, 112-102 -- 214
6. Chestatee, 114-106 -- 220

1. Madeline Harr, Gainesville, 41-43-- 84*
2. Meg Callahan, Gainesville, 40-44 -- 84
tie, Morgan Reece, Gainesville, 44-40 -- 84
4. Ashleigh Bishop, Gainesville, 48-39 -- 87
5. Haley Twiggs, North Hall, 48-40 -- 88
6. Olivia Davis, West Hall, 43-47 -- 90
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