For the second consecutive year the North Lincoln Knights finished as 1A West Regional runner-ups. The Knights shot a 308, once again falling short of last yearâ€™s nemesis, Jordan Matthews High School, which shot a 299 on Monday at Sapona Country Club in Lexington.
With their second-place finish, North Lincoln qualifies for the 1A State Championship to be held at Old North State Country Club in New London.
Albemarle finished in the third slot with 330.
Greystone High Schoolâ€™s David Heyen was regional champion with a 71.
Senior Will Campbell paced the Knights with a two-over par 73. If not for two holes that head coach Mark Lackey calls â€˜tricky,â€™ Campbell could have held the regional title.
â€œHe had a great practice round. Will really studied the course and he kept the ball in play. He really stayed focused and I was proud of the way he played,â€ Lackey said.
Zack Kiser, another senior, shot a 76 for the teamâ€™s second best score. Junior Kenny Bethea finished right behind Kiser with a 78.
Bethea, Reid Ketner (81) and Carson King (84) will return next year as seniors. Matthew Wentworth (87) will return as a junior next year. While the Knightsâ€™ cupboard appears full for next season, the Knights are more concerned with the here and now.
â€œWe played well and one of our goals was to make it to the state championship and try to win the championship, but now we have to do it,â€ Lackey said.
North Lincoln had three goals entering the season: repeat as conference champions, win the regional and win a 1A state championship. Embarking on the final item on their goalsâ€™ list, the Knights have already attained their first goal of repeating as Southern Foothillsâ€™ champions.
They were 10 strokes away from completing their second goal.
â€œOne of our goals was winning the regional. But Jordan Matthews has an outstanding golf team,â€ Lackey said.
One way or another, whether as teammates at East Lincoln Middle School or teeing it up over the summer, the team is very familiar with each other and they share close friendships on and off the course.
â€œThis group has been together for a long time. Theyâ€™re a close-knit group of guys,â€ Lackey said. â€œI would think it would be really neat to have a good showing at the state again.â€
The main attribute the Knights share is their unselfishness. Lackey felt Campbell, like the other five, was more concerned with where their team stood as opposed to individual accolades.
â€œWill, being the team player he is, he was more concerned about the team making it,â€ Lackey said. â€œHe never talks about Will, he always is concerned about the team and thatâ€™s impressive for a young man his age.â€
As the trend for many athletes today is to be more selfish and needing the constant reinforcement of the team concept, Lackey insists that is not the case with his group.
â€œTheyâ€™re not out for individual glory. Theyâ€™re team-first players and a coach canâ€™t ask for anything more. Thatâ€™s something you donâ€™t get a lot of times,â€ he said.
The sense of urgency surrounds the team, but Lackey feels if for some reason they donâ€™t have enough to take state, they still have accomplished a lot.
â€œI think it would be great for them to look back on the memories of what theyâ€™ve done thus far. If they donâ€™t win it next week, theyâ€™ve won two conference championships,â€ he said. â€œSome of them were all-conference performers and they went 41-9 last season. Theyâ€™ve done about everything you can at the high school level.â€
North Lincoln will likely be paired with Jordan Matthews in New London. The Knights finished fourth in the state last season.
â€œOur goal is to win it, but there are some excellent 1A schools in the state,â€ Lackey said.
The coach is especially thankful to Lincoln Country Club and Verdict Ridge Country Club for allowing the Knights to practice on their courses and use their facilities.
by John Mark Brooks