Sunday March 18th, 2018 7:28AM

Golf: Gainesville teams take the lead at blustery Hall County Championships

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor

CHESTNUT MOUNTAIN — Ryan Hogan could remember just one previous round of golf that even approached Monday's conditions at the Hall County Championships.

"It was in St. Simons, on the marsh. There weren't any trees, and the wind was just whipping around," said the Gainesville High senior. 

Even with plenty of trees and hills providing the occasional wind-break this time around, there was no sustained relief from the consistent, forceful gusts that enevloped Royal Lakes Golf Club on Monday and took its toll on competitors -- not that you would necessarily know it by looking at the scores.

The Red Elephants, in particular, proved up for the challenge, as the Gainesville boys and girls dominated the leaderboard and helped their programs to leads in the two-day, 18-hole event.

Brody Simmons and Andrew Hughes each shot a 37 to pace the Red Elephants, while Hogan and Davis Weaver each carded a 38 as Gainesville took the top four spots in the boys' portion. Meanwhile, Karina Collins fired a 45 to lead the Lady Red Elephants and top the girls portion. Teammates Morgan Nichol and Vivian Robinson were just behind at 48 and sit tied for third behind Chestatee's Shelby Benjamin (46) with Tuesday's 9-hole competition set to complete the tournament.

"It was just trying. The wind had an impact on every hole," said Gainesville girls coach Clay McDonald, whose program has won all but two Hall County titles since the girls portion of the meet began in 2000. "We played on the back nine today, and the front nine is a little more sheltered -- so we hope we can take advantage of that tomorrow.

"There's always big numbers out there lurking on this course, and as well as we did there were still two-three holes that jumped up and got us. We have three girls that didn't even know this course. But we've had success here as a program, and we're trying to teach the up-and-comers how we do things and to believe in the process."

Gainesville's girls enter Tuesday's portion of the meet 20 shots in front of North Hall in second place (161) and 26 in front of third place Flowery Branch.

The Gainesville boys, meanwhile, impressed in their quest for an eighth straight Hall County crown, firing a 150 to take a 28-stroke lead over second place North Hall (178). Flowery Branch sits third (187).

"I'm proud of all my guys," Red Elephants coach Bryson Worley said. "I'd say the weather cost about one-two shots per kid if not three. And on top of that the fairways were soaking wet because of all the rain over the weekend. The kids had to be really patient out there -- which is not always easy for a teenager.

"If you had told me we'd be six-over as a team after day one, I'd have taken that."

Two-time defending individual champ Bartley Forrester paced the Trojans and sits three strokes back of the lead after carding a 40.

Royal Lakes Golf Club, March 12-13
Monday Results

Individual Top 10
Brody Simmons, Gainesville, 37
Andrew Hughes, Gainesville, 37
Ryan Hogan, Gainesville, 38
Davis Weaver, Gainesville, 38
Bartley Forrester, North Hall, 40
Zayne Hildebrand, Gainesville, 40
Michael Kallab, North Hall, 42
Tyler Nielsen, Flowery Branch, 43
Connor Gillespie, Flowery Branch, 44
AD Winston, Gainesville, 44

Team Scores
Gainesville 150
North Hall 178
Flowery Branch 187
West Hall 190
Lakeview 199
East Hall 219
Chestatee 225
Johnson 237

Individual Top 10
Karina Collins, Gainesville, 45
Shelby Benjamin, Chestatee, 46
Morgan Nichol, Gainesville, 48
Vivian Robinson, Gainesville, 48
Ashlyn Burch, Gainesville, 48
Emily Bergdoll, Flowery Branch, 50
Annika Cain, North Hall, 51
Lyric Sanford, North Hall, 55
Willow Hill, North Hall, 55
Avery Owen, Johnson, 57

Team Scores
Gainesville 141
North Hall 161
Flowery Branch 167
Johnson 182
West Hall 192
East Hall 200
Chestatee incomplete*

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