Region 8-AAAAA championship
at Chattahoochee Golf Club
Region team champion
Gainesville boys 287
Lanier girls 261
Spencer Ralston Gainesville 68
Niquole Mangal Lanier 73
Team state sectional qualifiers
Flowery Branch 274
Individual state sectional qualifiers
Justin Garner Loganville 80
Aneesa Connie-Nakano Clakre Central 93
Among all the great Gainesville High boys golf programs in the past, the 2016 squad will have some bragging rights for at least one year.
On Monday, the Red Elephants shot a four-man total of 287 at the Region 8-AAAAA championship at the Chattahoochee Golf Club, breaking its previous best mark at region by one shot of the team from 2014.
“We’ve worked them hard and its a lot of fun to see these guys grow up and compete,” said Red Elephants boys coach Bryson Worley. “This really gives a glimpse of the potential this group has.”
Gainesville senior Spencer Ralston, a University of Georgia signee, ran away with the individual title, shooting 2-under par of both sides for a 18-hole total of 68 at his home course in Gainesville.
He won by three shots over his own teammates Davis Weaver (71) and Ryan Hogan (72), who are both sophomores for Gainesville. With the region title, the Red Elephants punched their ticket to the state championship meet May 16 at Bartram Trail Golf Club in Evans.
“Right now, we’re playing really well as a team,” said Ralston, who is taking part later this week in the prestigious Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville, S.C. This event is compiled of 54 of the top junior golfers in the world.
The Red Elephants boys won as a team by 39 shots over Apalachee, which will play in the Class AAAAA state sectionals May 2 at Georgia National in McDonough.
On the girls’ side, Gainesville (270) and Flowery Branch (274) shot qualifying scores for the state sectionals May 2 at Herron Bay in Locust Grove.
Gainesville’s Ashleigh Bishop and Flowery Branch’s Macie Hurst both carded a 77 for a second-place tie, finishing four shots back of individual champion Niquole Mangal from Lanier. The Lady Longhorns won the team title with a 261.
Ralston will be aiming for his first individual state championship next month. He’s carrying a load of momentum into the his final two high school meets.
The Red Elephants host The Invite on April 29-30 at Chattahoochee.
In the last month, Ralston has posted a pair of 64s, winning the Warrior Invitational on March 26 at Mossy Creek in Cleveland, along with Saturday’s outing against St. Pius X at Achasta in Dahlonega.
Even with lofty individual aspirations, he’s much more focused on the collective group of Red Elephants.
“I’d much rather win the state title as a team,” said Ralston.
At region, Ralston stayed consistent on all fronts, avoiding any major mistakes. On No. 11, he drained a 40-foot putt for birdie. Then on the par-5 8th hole, he managed to get up and down from the green-side bunker for another birdie. He played the entire round without a bogey showing up on his scorecard.
The Red Elephants finished with five of the top six individual scores. Apalachee’s Michael Cook shot a 75. As the top individual on a non state-qualifying team, Loganville’s Justin Garner earned a spot to the sectionals with an 80.
For the girls, Clarke Central’s Aneesa Connie-Nakano shot a 93 to qualify for the state sectionals.