OAKWOOD — While some things never change -- the Gainesville boys and girls golf teams once again both captured the latest installment of the Hall County Championships Tuesday at the Chicopee Woods Golf Course -- for the second consecutive season a pair of first-time winners took the low medalist honors in two highly-competitive individual fields.
For the boys, Gainesville junior Zayne Hilderbrand held off a trio of teammates with a solid 74 to capture his first Hall County title on the final hole.
North Hall sophomore Mikayla Dubnik not only won her first-ever Hall County Championship title, but she also did it in impressive style. Dubnik fired a girls tournament record 68 over The School and The Mill courses, besting the old mark of 69 set by Gainesville’s Kinsley Barrett.
“It feels great to win this,” Dubnik said. “I just tried to stay composed most of the day. I really feel like the last two or three weeks I’ve really been playing well. My wedge game I think has been the difference.”
Dubnik began Tuesday’s final round with a 7-stroke lead. She opened The Mill Course with an eagle and then continued to keep the pressure on the field. She couldn’t afford to let up as the Lady Red Elephants placed four in the top eight of the individual scores.
“When you play against teams as good as Gainesville, they push you to do your best,” Dubnik said. “Just a great feeling to be able to win this.”
Gainesville associate head girls coach Brad Prestridge said Dubnik helped push his young group as well. The Lady Red Elephants, who finished with a 255 to North Hall’s 264, came into the final round holding a slim 1-stroke lead.
“Mikayla played well but we had hoped that our depth could hold them off,” Prestridge said. “Mill is a little easier so we just talked about staying relaxed and just go out and do your job. The girls did a great job.”
Gainsville's Morgan Nichol, who finished in second with an 82, opened the day with back-to-back birdies while 2018 champion Karina Collins of Gainesville carded an 83 for third place. Lady Red Elephants' Vivian Robinson and Catie Cook tied for fifth shooting identical 91s.
“Morgan started strong and really all the girls were pretty steady today,” Prestridge said. “I think this group will continue to get better. Very pleased with how they played overall.”
Hilderbrand, who also won the Achasta tournament in Dahlonega earlier in the season, said the push by his teammates was a key factor. He overtook 2018 champion Andrew Hughes (75), and Cherokee Bluff’s Palmer Weaver (75) on the final hole with a par on the Par 5 9th. Hughes bogeyed the final hole.
“Me and Andrew were encouraging each other all day, even on the final hole,” Hilderbrand said. “It’s nice to win it for myself but really we were just more focused on the team. I really felt we were a strong team today.”
It’s hard to argue that point. The Red Elephants carded a two-day 301 and captured the top four positions in the individual scoring. Hughes shot a 75 and fellow Red Elephants Sam Patterson and Embry Price both fired 76s. Patterson actually had the lead after the 14th hole but a pair of 3-putts over the final three holes undid his chances.
Day 1 leader Tyler Stauffer also struggled down the stretch finishing with a 77 and in sixth place.
Newcomer Cherokee Bluff finished a distant second at 353 while West Hall took third with a 369.
Gainesville associate head boys coach Kevin Brown echoed Hilderbrand.
“We were strong over both days,” Brown said. “What’s really encouraging is that we’re also a very young team. We graduated four seniors so that can be hard to overcome. But these guys have worked hard and I think they helped push each other out there.”
But Brown said they may find out just how much they have either improved or need to improve this weekend in the University of Georgia tournament in Athens.
“We won that last year and it’s always a very tough field,” Brown said. “(The Hall County Championships) is always important to us and this was a big victory. But I think we’ll find out just how good we are this weekend.”
2019 HALL COUNTY GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS
Chicopee Woods Golf Course, March 11-12
Individual Top 10
Zayne Hilderbrand, Gainesville, 74 -- low medalist
Andrew Hughes, Gainesville, 75
Palmer Weaver, Cherokee Bluff, 75
Sam Patterson, Gainesville, 76
Embry Price, Gainesville, 76
Tyler Stauffer, West Hall, 77
Mason Hill, Cherokee Bluff, 79
Andrew Mauk, Riverside Military, 79
Ryan Davidson, Gainesville, 79
Ethan Simonson, Riverside Military, 83
Cherokee Bluff 353
West Hall 369
North Hall 375
Flowery Branch 414
East Hall 466
Individual Top 10
Mikayla Dubnik, North Hall, 68 -- low medalist (tournament record)
Morgan Nichol, Gainesville, 82
Karina Collins, Gainesville, 83
Lyric Sanford, North Hall, 89
Vivian Robinson, Gainesville, 91
Emily Bergdoll, Flowery Branch, 91
Rachel DeVall, West Hall, 91
Catie Cook, Gainesville, 91
Savannah Keifer, Flowery Branch 103
Lea Bergdoll, Flowery Branch, 105
North Hall 264
Flowery Branch 299
West Hall 361
East Hall 397
Cherokee Bluff 402