The Gainesville boys golf team has yet to be beaten this season, but the Red Elephants have also yet to achieve one of their main goals.
So, although the defending Class AAA state champions are on one of the more remarkable runs in program history, coach Bryson Worley is confident that his golfers are still grounded, still working to get better.
“We’re glad to win, but it’s what we can do to improve that we think about,” he said. “They don’t feel like they’ve arrived just yet, and that’s what I’m trying to guard against, especially coming off a state championship and how we’ve continued that into this year.”
At this point of the season, having won all seven tournaments they’ve played in and beaten 78 different teams all told, the Red Elephants still haven’t beaten a course, something the unusually cold, windy weather can take a good deal of credit for.
“We really just play the golf course, and we don’t feel like we’ve beaten a golf course, and for us that means getting under par,” he said.
The closest Gainesville has come this season to doing that was finishing with a 290 — 2-over par — at Apple Mountain this season.
It means the Red Elephants still have something to improve on, but it’s hard to overlook the run they’re on. What’s remarkable about it is that their scores are very similar to last season’s state title run, which included much better weather on average. And last season Gainesville had won four tournaments by this point, not all seven.
“It’s pretty unprecedented,” Worley said of the season thus far. “Its pretty remarkable considering the depth in these tournaments, and it’s pretty remarkable to come out on top.”
Gainesville has won by a lot, including a tournament-record score of 293 to win by 29 strokes in the Hall County Championships, and it’s won by a little, including two come-from-behind wins in 36-hole events and two wins by one-stroke margins.
For the Red Elephants’ seventh consecutive tournament win Tuesday at Achasta Golf Club in Dahlonega, they rallied from two strokes down on Day 2 to defeat Easley High (S.C.) by one stroke to defend their North Georgia High School Invitational title. Spencer Ralston, Gainesville’s lone freshman, led the way with an even-par 144, but like last season this Gainesville team is winning with its depth.
“Spencer, he’s played at a high level about his whole life, Gainesville High School is important to him and the team is important to him,” Worley said. “But I can say that about any of our guys.
“Having nine guys really helps.”
This year’s team includes three seniors, one of which, Pep Brown, is a pretty consistent top-four scorer, but it truly is a team without a true star or No. 1 golfer. Worley said fellow seniors Reeves Bell and Webber Wycoff have also made an impact, as have talented juniors Jackson Bishop and Grant Lasseter, both key to last year’s title run.
Sophomore Nathan Williams has also risen his game this season, something Worley said he had been hoping to see.
The group has certainly not skipped a beat, despite losing individual state champion Parks Brown to graduation, but the tournament win that would really prove that is still ahead.
First, Gainesville hosts the Region 8-AAAAA tournament April 15 at Chattahoochee Golf Club. Then comes The Invite tournament in early May at Chattahoochee and then the state tournament May 20 in Jekyll Island.
The Big Red golfers are all playing more than that though, before state. Most will play a junior tournament coming up at Chateau Elan, and all will be playing in one down at Jekyll Island, a good chance to scout the course.
If nothing else, Worley said the experience of last year’s state title has given the players the confidence that extra work really does pay off.
“There’s some confidence. They see that what we do from a preparation standpoint pays off, so they’ve bought in even more,” he said. “Learning how to win breeds winning.
“And we’ve faced some adversity. In the past you would get in those situations and doubt if you win those, now they know they’re good enough to handle that adversity.”
Meaning the defending state champs are hungry for more.
AREA SOCCER TEAMS AMONG BEST IN CLASS AAA: Four boys and four girls teams from the area — seven of those eight from Region 7-AAA — are all ranked in the top 10 in the latest coaches poll, meaning Northeast Georgia is still a soccer hotbed.
It also means that Region 7-AAA, for both the boys and girls, could be quite possibly the toughest region in the classification.
In fact, the top four boys teams in 7-AAA are all top teams in the classification, including No. 3 Dawson County, No. 4 West Hall, No. 6 North Hall and No. 9 East Hall. It makes for a couple of big late season matchups, including the Vikings vs. Tigers on April 12, Spartans vs. Trojans on April 16, Tigers vs. Wolves on April 22, and Tigers against the Trojans on April 24.
Region 7-AAA for the girls includes No. 2 Buford, No. 4 Dawson County and No. 6 White County. The top two play April 22 in a match that could likely be for the region title, because the Lady Warriors have already lost to both.
The Jackson County girls, in Region 8-AAA, are also ranked at No. 8.
NO-HIT BROS: With Gainesville freshman Jonathan Gettys’ no-hitter Wednesday in an 8-1 win over Clarke Central Wednesday in Athens, both him and his older brother, junior Michael Gettys, have throw no-hitters this season.
Jonathan struck out 14 in the Region 8-AAAAA win and got some offensive help from Michael, who finished 3 for 5 in the game. Michael, The Times Baseball Player of the Year in 2012, shut down Habersham Central in an 11-0 win early in the season.
It was the first no-hitter in each of their high school careers, and its certainly a good sign for a team eyeing another deep run at state.