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Field is deep with contenders for Region 8-AAA golf title
Gainesville and North Hall 2 of favorites to win Thursday
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Region 8-AAA championships
When: 8:30 a.m. Thursday
Where: Chattahoochee Golf Course
Defending champion: Johnson

Every team has a different goal in Thursday's boys Region 8-AAA golf championships at the Chattahoochee Golf Course.

Gainesville is trying to the get the monkey off its back after finishing third overall and one spot out of qualifying for state three years in a row, and Lumpkin County is looking to keep its string alive after earning a spot to state with a second-place finish three years straight.

Meanwhile, Johnson is looking to pull together four solid scores like in 2010 when the boys won their first region title in golf as a member of Region 7-AAA.

However, competition for the two spots to state will be tight when you take into consideration that North Hall, White County and Oconee County are also certainly in the mix to return to Chattahoochee for the Class AAA state tournament May 2.

With only 18 holes to make their mark, it's anyone's guess who will emerge at the top of the pack.

Also, the top individual finisher on a non-qualifier gets to play at the state meet.

"We're looking forward to it," White County coach Darren Sledge said. "Our region is always tough, and you have to play well if you plan on making it to state."

As far as depth goes, Gainesville probably has an edge.

Red Elephants coach Bryson Worley has a team that goes eight deep, which means two are unable to play at region.

Gainesville is led by senior Will Frankum and junior Parks Brown, who are both averaging a 75 this season on 18 holes, and both finished tied for fourth with a 72 at region last season.

After that, Pep Brown, Reeves Bell, Jackson Bishop and Grant Lasseter have all been in the high 70's this year for the Red Elephants.

Worley reiterates that the key to a region tournament is having enough guys play well all on the same day.

"Golf isn't like football where you can call a different play or put another player in the game," Worley said. "I have a lot of confidence in our team that they'll play well."

Five of the top six individual finishers from Region 7-AAA last year are in the hunt this year in 8-AAA.

Defending champion Johnson is led by Josh Foster, who finished second last year, and Luke James with a comparable 77 average to Foster's this season.

Johnson coach Jeff Steele is relying on his No. 3 Carter Cagle and No. 4 Ray Greer if they have a shot of making it back to state.

Individually, Lumpkin County senior Aaron George is looking to repeat as a region champion after shooting a 3-under 69 to win it last season at his home course of Achasta.

This year, George, a North Georgia College & State University signee, hasn't dropped off with his 71 stroke average. Lumpkin County coach Jeff Fleming is confident in his next two, Austin Booker and Joseph Jarrard, to also play well.

After that, Fleming will need one of his younger golfers to step in to give a solid fourth score if they plan on going back to state.

"We're on the outside looking in," Fleming said. "I feel like Gainesville and North Hall are the favorites to make it to state, but we're going to try to slip in there."

Meanwhile, North Hall fields the individual Hall County champion, Andy Bracewell, who carded a two-day total of 3-over 75 at Royal Lakes last month.

The Trojans lost to Gainesville in a playoff at this year's Hall County Championships.

White County also fields a contender for the overall title with senior John Luna, who is averaging 74 this season.

Last year, Luna came in third at region with a 1-under 71. Sledge is counting on a handful of young golfers after Luna, including Brynnan Adams, Eli Crumley, Austin Shellnut and Austin Brown.


Regional events