Saturday December 15th, 2018 11:04PM

Golf: Freshmen lead Gainesville to sweep of Hall County Championships

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

CHESTNUT MOUNTAIN — Based on Tuesday’s finish of a tough two days spent battling the elements -- almost as much an always-tough Royal Lakes Golf Course -- the future looks bright for both the Gainesville golf teams.

A pair of Red Elephants freshmen walked away with individual titles at the Hall County Championships as Gainesville also swept the team titles to continue their dominance of the tournament.

Andrew Hughes shot a 75 to nip fellow Red Elephant senior Ryan Hogan by one stroke while Karina Collins fired a 91 to hold off two fellow Lady Red Elephants -- Morgan Nichol and Vivian Robinson -- by four strokes in the girls competition.

Windy, cold conditions forced players to scrap for low scores on both days. That might seem to play into the hands of experienced players like Hogan and two-time defending Hall County champ Bartley Forrester of North Hall. Not so in 2018. And the feat left long-time Gainesville boys coach Bryson Worley somewhat shocked.

“I can’t remember if that’s happened before,” Worley said about two freshmen, no matter school affiliation, winning in the same season. “I think that says a lot about the younger players we have for both programs and are trying to develop -- and in these conditions as well.”

The Gainesville boys shot a 307 to beat second place North Hall (347) by 40 strokes and claim their eighth straight Hall County crown. Flowery Branch finished third at 379.

The Lady Red Elephants’ 281 was 35 shots better than second place North Hall (316), continuing their dominance of a tournament they have lost just twice since its inception (on the girls side) since 2000. Flowery Branch took third with a 342.

Gainesville girls coach Clay McDonald was all smiles as two of his team’s top three finishers were freshmen.

“You never know what to expect from the younger kids, but they did a great job for us. To have two freshmen post scores like that was something we probably weren’t expecting so that was nice to see,” he said.

The win for Hughes was even more remarkable after he took a double-par 8 on the Par 4 13th. However, he recovered in time to birdie two of the last three holes to overtake Hogan, who managed an even-par finish over the final three holes.

Hughes drained an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 16 and then left a 40-foot putt for eagle short by just inches as he tapped in for another birdie on the Par 5 18th. Hogan, who was a group behind Hughes, had a chance to send it to a playoff but missed a 7-footer for eagle. Hogan had five other putts lip-out during his round Tuesday.

Hughes said his goal coming into the tournament was just to contribute but that he felt he had a shot at the title after Monday.

“I just tried to put (No. 13) behind me,” Hughes said. “I hit a good first shot on 16 and then my second shot on 18 gave me a chance at eagle. I felt like I had a chance (to win it), but I’m still a little shocked with guys like Ryan and (North Hall senior and two-time defending champion) Bartley (Forrester) playing. It’s humbling but it feels good at the same time.”

Gainesville finished with the top four individual scores and five of the top six. Worley said they may have one of their deeper teams by season’s end.

“We’re really deep this year. Andrew had to win a team qualifier for us just to get to play so I think that is really helping all the guys right now,” Worley said.

Forrester, who was looking for his third straight Hall County Championship title, battled both days and finished with an 84, tied for eighth.

For the girls, McDonald said his young and inexperienced group played well despite the rough conditions.

“It may have been a tougher wind (Tuesday) than yesterday so I’m just real proud of how the girls handled things out there,” McDonald said. “We had three girls who had never played this course before so they just did a great job overall.”

Collins said she hadn’t thought about winning the tournament before Monday. Now she leaves with plenty of confidence.

“I was just trying to focus on the shot, and winning it wasn’t something I thought about (coming into the tournament),” she said. “Now that it’s over it feels pretty good. It makes me think that I can win down the road.”

Royal Lakes Golf Club, March 12-13
Final Results

Individual Top 10
Andrew Hughes, Gainesville, 75 -- low medalist
Ryan Hogan, Gainesville, 76
Brody Simmons, Gainesville, 78
Davis Weaver, Gainesville, 79
Michael Kallab, North Hall, 80
Zayne Hildebrand, Gainesville, 81
Mason Hill, Flowery Branch, 82
Bartley Forrester, North Hall, 84
AD Winston, Gainesville, 84
Connor Gillespie, Flowery Branch, 88

Team Scores
Gainesville 307
North Hall 347
Flowery Branch 379
West Hall 382
Lakeview 420
East Hall 429
Chestatee 452
Johnson 476

Individual Top 10
Karina Collins, Gainesville, 91 -- low medalist
Morgan Nichol, Gainesville, 95
Vivian Robinson, Gainesville, 95
Shelby Benjamin, Chestatee, 101
Annika Cain, North Hall, 102
Lyric Sanford, North Hall, 106
Ashlyn Burch, Gainesville, 106
Emily Bergdoll, Flowery Branch, 108
Willow Hill, North Hall, 108
Hannah Brock, North Hall, 111

Team Scores
Gainesville 281
North Hall 316
Flowery Branch 342
Johnson 371
West Hall 376
Chestatee 379
East Hall 392

© Copyright 2018
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Golf: Freshmen lead Gainesville to sweep of Hall County Championships
Based on Tuesday’s finish of a tough two-days of battling the elements almost as much an always-tough Royal Lakes Golf Course, the future looks bright for both the Gainesville golf teams...
10:06PM ( 2 minutes ago )
Tennis: Branch girls, GHS boys claim wins in region play
The Flowery Branch girls tennis team defeated Buford 4-1 on Tuesday in Buford.
9:31PM ( 37 minutes ago )
Area hoops stars ready to shine one last time at Saturday's North Georgia All-Star Classic
The 2018 high school basketball season provided some incredible moments and even a slice of history. And a number of the players that made that happen will provide fans with one last moment of brilliance on Saturday when northeast Georgia senior standouts take part in the seventh North Georgia All-Star Classic in Gainesville.
2:43PM ( 7 hours ago )
Basketball: Sokol stepping down as Falcons boys coach
David Sokol, who guided the Flowery Branch boys basketball team to its first-ever Lanierland Championship in 2015, is stepping down as head coach.
12:33PM ( 1 day ago )
Baseball: Surprise starts already shaping 7-AAA playoff race
Several more regions got the race for playoff positioning under way last week and Regions 8-AAAAA, 7-AAAA and 8-AA will get going this week in baseball action around northeast Georgia...
7:22AM ( 1 day ago )
Soccer: Flowery Branch girls take out Buford; East Hall splits region matches
The second-ranked Flowery Branch girls soccer team kept rolling on Friday, taking out Buford 4-1 in Buford.
11:22PM ( 2 days ago )
High School Sports
Golf: Gainesville teams take the lead at blustery Hall County Championships
Ryan Hogan could only remember one other round of golf that even approached Monday's conditions at the Hall County Championships.
11:49PM ( 22 hours ago )
Golf: North Hall girls take 8th at West Hall Invitational
The North Hall girls golf team finished in a tie for eleventh place Saturday at The West Hall Invitational held at the Chateau Elan Golf Course...
By AccessWDUN
6:49AM ( 1 week ago )
Golf: Red Elephants place 2 teams in top 5 at Apple Mountain Invitational
The Gainesville boys golf team had a solid showing at the Apple Mountain Invitational Saturday held at Apple Mountain Resort...
By AccessWDUN
9:00AM ( 1 week ago )
Golf: North Hall opens season at Coal Mountain Classic
The North Hall boys golf team began its 2018 season with the Coal Mountain Golf Classic on Saturday at Hampton Golf Village in Cumming.
By AccessWDUN Staff
4:15PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Golf: Lady Red Elephants take 8th at Lady Wolves Invite
The Gainesville girls golf team finished in a tie for eighth place Saturday at The Lady Wolves Invite, hosted by Buford and Bear's Best Golf Club...
By AccessWDUN
8:14PM ( 2 weeks ago )