It’s unlikely that Gainesville’s boys will be able to match their record-setting performance at the 2022 Hall County championship.
However, after the first round of this year’s event at Chattahoochee, the Red Elephants have a solid shot of bringing home another team title.
On Tuesday, Gainesville’s Colin Henderson and Brigham Ralston were in a five-player tie for second after the first nine holes with scores of 1-over par 37. Adding to the Red Elephants’ score of 151 were Henry Kopydlowski (38, tied for seventh) and Nick Greene (39, tied for ninth).
Through the first round Gainesville stands with its four best scores at 7-over par.
Last year, the Red Elephants won with a blistering two-day total of 4-under par 284.
However, what matters to first-year Red Elephants coach Jason DeJiacomo is their collective resilience after a sluggish start to the day on the home course.
“Overall, we bounced back well,” DeJiacomo said. “To come away with a two-shot lead, even though we didn’t play our best, is not just good for us, but commendable to them.”
Henderson, a senior, was feeling the frustration of not being able to cash in on more birdies, but was still pleased with his effort. He won the boys county title last year for North Hall.
“I hit the ball pretty well today,” Henderson said. “I hit the fairways, just couldn’t get any (putts) to fall.”
Gainesville’s coach said that having Henderson jump right in and become a major contributor is important, after 2022 Class 7A state champion Ryan Davidson has since graduated.
“It’s huge having Colin on our team,” Gainesville’s coach said. “He’s helped fill that gap. Everyone on the team has embraced him, and he’s embraced them.”
Meanwhile, Ralston came back strong with back-to-back birdies, immediately after a pair of bogeys.
Leading the individual standings through Day 1 was Lakeview Academy senior Tanner Stephens, who was the only player in the red, with a first-round, 1-under-par 35.
The left-hander’s round was highlighted by three birdies, including a wedge shot from 120 out that he knocked down his putt from 15 feet.
“My round was pretty solid,” Stephens said. “I need to drive it a little better, but other than that, it was pretty good.”
In addition to Stephens’ round of 35, Lakeview Academy’s Chandler Lovell carded a 1-over-par 37.
Lakeview Academy is just two strokes back of Gainesville.
The Lions are seeking their first county championship in school history.
Gainesville goes into Round 2 seeking its 28th county title.
In the girls’ competition, it has turned into a two-team race between North Hall, which shot a 136 in the first round, and Cherokee Bluff (140).
Leading the individual standings, North Hall’s Makayla Jones shot a first-round 41, while her teammate Lilly Mallis is third overall at 45.
For Cherokee Bluff, Alisa Pressley is in second (43), while her teammates Rachel Lyons is in fourth place (48) and Samantha Roper is in fifth (49).
The final round of the Hall County championship will start at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday with the last nine holes at Chattahoochee.
Hall County championship
1. Gainesville 151
2. Lakeview Academy 153
3. Cherokee Bluff 157
4. North Hall 161
5. Flowery Branch 194
6. Chestatee 203
7. Johnson 213
8. East Hall 231
9. West Hall 254
1. North Hall 136
2. Cherokee Bluff 140
3. Flowery Branch 168
4. West Hall 171
5. East Hall 175
6. Gainesville 182
7. Johnson 209
Top 10 boys
1. Tanner Stephens Lakeview Academy 35
T2. Chandler Lovell Lakeview Academy 37
T2. JT Chester North Hall 37
T2. Colin Henderson Gainesville 37
T2. Brigham Ralston Gainesville 37
T2. TJ Harris Cherokee Bluff 37
T7. Caleb Vancil Cherokee Bluff 38
T7. Henry Kopdlowski Gainesville 38
T9. Wyatt Lee North Hall 39
T9. Nick Greene Gainesville 39
Top 5 girls
1. Makayla Jones North Hall 41
2. Alisa Pressley Cherokee Bluff 43
3. Lilly Mallis North Hall 45
4. Rachel Lyons Cherokee Bluff 48
5. Samantha Roper Cherokee Bluff 49