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Posted: Tuesday, May 20th 2014 at 8:57am

Golf: Gainesville's title streak comes to an end in Augusta

By Morgan Lee Editor
click to enlarge
Gainesville's Lawson King launches a shot toward the green en route to a team-low, three-under 69 on Monday in the Class AAAAA championships in Evans.
EVANS -- For much of the past three years, the Gainesville boys have made it look as if home-field advantage counts for little in golf.

On Monday, Greenbrier and Lakeside, Evans, showed that familiarity does indeed carry weight on the links.

Playing on their home course, the Wolfpack and Panthers combined to halt the Red Elephants’ state title dominance and deny Gainesville its third straight crown in the Class AAAAA championships, played at Bartram Trail Golf Club in Evans.

The two Region 2-AAAAA foes finished regulation tied for first, each firing a 291 to squeeze out the Red Elephants, who finished third with a 295. (Greenbrier went on to win a sudden death playoff to claim the title.)

The setback was Gainesville’s first in three seasons. Meanwhile, the Lady Red Elephants finished second in the Class AAAAA girls tournament at Jones Creek Golf Course in Augusta, coming in behind champion Cambridge 223-248. Other area golfers to impress on Monday included Commerce's girls, which won Class A public (175) -- led by Akyn Trudnak's low medalist round of 81 -- while the Buford girls took third in Class AAA (255). Individually, Dawson County's Madison Caldwell finished second with a 76 -- one stroke behind the low medalist -- while Lakeview Academy's John Jacobs IV shot a 77 to tie for 11th in the Class A private tournament.

As good as the performances were, however, it could not match the past two seasons for the area's most dominant program.

“We’ve had a remarkable run,” Red Elephants coach Bryson Worley said. “But this one stings a bit because it’s state. The boys wanted it. That’s golf; it’s a tough sport. Hats off to Greenbrier and Lakeside; they played really well. But we never really got a rhythm today.

“We knew the course well enough; we played it four times before today -- we just didn’t play it well today. But I’m proud of our guys. Even though we didn’t play well, we did what we do: battled to the end and kept fighting even when we didn’t have our best.”

Most teams would have been happy to “battle” with recorded scores of 69, 75, 75 and 76, as Gainesville did, but, as the Red Elephants have shown the past two seasons, they are not most teams.

“It just wasn’t our day,” Gainesville senior Jackson Bishop said. “We played pretty well, just not as well as we could.”

Lawson King certainly found his game, as the Gainesville junior carded a three-under 69 to finish with the third lowest individual score – five shots behind Lakeside's Hunter Dunagan, who scorched Bartram Trail with an eight-under 64.

King’s performance was his second straight strong finish at state, as he also finished tied for low medalist in regulation during last year’s state tournament (falling in a sudden-death playoff hole).

“Lawson played well today, and he felt like he had a little bit to prove and showed that,” Worley said. “He made a birdie on No. 4 that was just incredible.”

Nathan Williams and Bishop each recorded a 75, while Spencer Ralston carded a 76.

“It was pretty tough out there; if you missed a fairway it could bounce into oblivion,” Worley said. “The greens were fast and hard, but we like that. It wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. We just couldn’t get shots to fall. We hit the ball well several times today.”

Williams displayed plenty of grit, overcoming a six-over on the front nine to card a three-under 33 on the back nine. Grant Lasseter also battled, holing an eagle on No. 2 after recording a bogey to start the tournament.

“This is a good learning lesson,” Worley said. “I once read that, in golf, you either win or you learn. Now we’ll sit down in a couple of days with our guys and talk about what we could do to improve on this and figure out what can we do to get better.”

King, Williams and Ralston will all return next season, while Bishop and Lasseter will each graduate and are headed for collegiate teams.

“It’s exciting looking back on this season and all we accomplished, and I’m so happy to have been a part of this program,” Bishop said. “I wouldn’t be the player I am today without coach Worley and the guys pushing me to be better. And I know they’re going to continue to do well.”

Like the boys team, the Gainesville girls will also graduate some key players -- though the Lady Red Elephants will lose more both in numbers and percentages, as seniors Morgan Reece, Meg Callahan and Madeline Harr leave the program.

“You don’t lose three of your top three and not face some rebuilding,” Lady Red Elephants coach Clay McDonald said. “Those girls put this program on the map. They worked really hard and were dedicated and had parents that were dedicated and committed. They brought an attitude that they were not scared to play anyone at anytime.”

They showed as much again on Monday, carding a 248 to finish behind Cambridge’s 224. Reece led the Lady Red Elephants with a 79, which was the fifth lowest score of the day. Cambridge’s Sabrina Long carded the lowest round with a 71.

The performance allowed the four seniors to finish their careers with four straight top five finishes.

“I’m extremely proud of them,” McDonald said. “We had a good day against a difficult course. It wasn’t really long but it was unrelenting. We had to hit good shots throughout.”
We had a good day.”

Callahan also carded an 84, while the varsity’s lone underclassman -- sophomore Ashleigh Bishop -- put up an 85.

“Ashleigh played at No. 1 all year, and her experience and she’s been through for two years now will be huge for this program next year,” McDonald said. “The younger girls will definitely be looking up to her next year.”

-- NOTES: Johnson's girls finish 10th in Class AAAA, led by Madison Stewart's 97. Stephens County was eighth in the same tournament, paced by Ally Brock's 95. ... White County's girls finished fifth (264); the Lady Warriors Candler Kimsey was fourth individually with an 80. Jackson County was seventh in the same tourney (276), Banks County 10th (297) and West Hall 13th (305). The Lady Spartans were led by Olivia Davis (86), tied for 11th. ... Buford's boys were seventh (316); White County (324) was eighth, led by Garrett Rowland's 75. Jackson County (327) was ninth, led by York Delloyd's 76, while North Hall was 14th (341), led by Hunter Young's 77. ... Commerce's boys were fifth in Class A public (375). ... Jefferson's boys were 11th in Class AA (335), Rabun County 12th (344). ... Rabun County's girls were sixth (185), while Union County tied for ninth (189) and Jefferson tied for 11th (199).
Associated Categories: Sports News, High School Sports

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