Posted: Tuesday, March 12th 2013 at 11:50pm
Golf: GHS teams sweep Hall County Championships
By Jeff Hart Staff
Gainesville's Pep Brown finished tied for third to help lead the Red Elephants to the 2013 Hall County Championship title Tuesday.
CHESTNUT MOUNTAIN -- You had to excuse Spencer Ralston if his excitement seemed somewhat tempered as he was announced as the low medalist Tuesday to win the Hall County Championships in his first try.
The Gainesville freshman fired an even-par 72 over a weather-hampered two days at Royal Lakes Country Club. But his low score came at the expense of his Red Elephants teammates, who finished 2-3-4 in the final standings.
Of course, it also meant the Red Elephants captured their third straight team title with a 293 total, nearly 30 strokes better than second place Flowery Branch (322). Each team could field six golfers with the top four scores counting in the team competition.
“To be honest I was just playing and not really thinking about winning it,” Ralston said. “We’re such a strong team and root for each other that it’s a little bittersweet. But it feels good to win it and to win as a team.”
Ralston and the rest of the field had to battle rain on Monday in the first round and then biting cold and a tenacious wind on Tuesday in the final round.
“With the conditions both days I thought it was a good effort overall,” Gainesville coach Bryson Worley said. “The thing that I really love about these guys is that they really care about each other and how they are doing. That is one of our biggest strengths.
“Flowery Branch is a very good team and to have that many strokes between us is a good win for us. I’m real proud of the guys. As for Spencer, he is a special talent. But any one of these guys can win on any given day and they push each other to get better.”
Fellow Gainesville teammates Nathan Williams (73), Pep Brown (74), Lawson King (74), Flowery Branch’s Kammeron Williams (74) and Gainesville’s Jackson Bishop (76) finished on the all-tournament team as the top six finishers. The Falcons’ Colby Stone (77), Clay Hoffman of North Hall (79), Gainesville’s Reeves Bell (82), and North Hall’s Hunter Young (83) rounded out the top 10.
In the team standings, following Gainesville and Flowery Branch were North Hall in third with 349, a surprising Lakeview Academy with 367, and Chestatee with 388 to round out the top five. Johnson was sixth with 416, East Hall seventh with 420, and West Hall eighth with 446.
The shot of the tournament, however, came North Hall’s Cord Sanford. The freshman drained a Hole-in-One on the Par 3, 155-yard No. 8 early in the second round using a 7-iron.
“I hit it pretty good then I saw it bounce and go in,” Sanford said. “I was kind of in shock at first and then I got a little excited. It’s pretty cool.”
It’s the first-ever hole-in-one for Sanford.
In the girls competition, Gainesville also won the team title firing a 251 to beat North Hall (294) by 43 strokes. The Lady Elephants followed a similar gameplan as the boys finishing the two-day tournament with the top three finishers.
Junior Meg Calahan earned her first Hall County Championship title shooting an 80 to edge teammates Morgan Reece (84), the 2012 champion, and Madeline Harr (87) for the low-medalist honors.
“It’s pretty fun to know I was able to win. I felt like I had a shot coming in but I’m really just glad that we were able to win it as a team,” Calahan said.
After Gainesville and North Hall, West Hall (307), Johnson (318), and Chestatee (354), and Flowery Branch (366) rounded out the field.
Each team could field four golfers with the top three finishers counting toward the team score. The three counting toward the team score is a new rule adopted by the GHSA for girls starting this season.
Gainesville girls coach Clay McDonald said the new format will add a new dimension to girls golf.
“It will help find the better teams because you will need to be deeper,” McDonald said. “I think that will play to our advantage but I really think it is good for girls golf. We played well for the conditions and I was real proud of Meg, who has been playing well so far.”
It is the 13th Hall County Championship title for the Lady Elephants in 14 years.
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