North Lincoln’s move from the 2A to 3A classification probably has many 2A golf programs breathing a collective sigh of relief.
The Knights have been ever-present in the top two spots in the state championship hunt for the last five years, with state titles in 2009 and 2010 and three consecutive runner-up finishes in 2011, 2012 and 2013. And to hear the players talk, there’s no sign of that run stopping.
“We’ll definitely be better next year,” junior Grant Studdard said. “We’re moving up to 3A so it’s going to be tougher but I think we’re definitely up to the challenge to take on whoever comes our way.”
The Knights finished four shots behind Newton-Conover in this year’s state championship meet. Newton-Conover, with its first state golf title in school history, shot a 299 on the first day of the match and a 312 on the second day, barely edging the Knights’ 307 and 308 tally.
“My hat goes off to (coach) John Echerd at Newton-Conover,” North Lincoln head coach Mark Lackey said. “He’s a good friend of mine and I’m very happy for him and his team. They played well and they earned that championship.”
The Knights were led at the state championship meet by sophomore Alston Taylor, who said it was “a big accomplishment” to finish so high in the state championship finals for five consecutive seasons.
“We did pretty good,” he said. “It could have been better but it was pretty good. We played really well as a team and we won the conference so it was a good season.”
Senior Sam Lawing is graduating and heading to ECU for college but he said the Knights will keep getting stronger if they play like they did at the state meet.
“We’re becoming more of a family each year,” he said. “We went out there and tried our best each day. We came up short but we enjoyed it.”
Lackey said moving up in classification will offer new challenges, but that the Knights should be ready to meet them.
“We’ve been very fortunate over the last five years with two state championships and three runners-up,” he said. “We hope it continues and we’re certainly going to work as hard as we can to make it continue. We have a lot of competition ahead of us in 3A but I think these kids are going to be up to the challenge.”