The Newton-Conover golf team made history on Tuesday at Longleaf Golf and Country Club in Southern Pines, becoming the school's first squad to capture a state title in the sport.
"Winning the first team title is great," said N-C coach John Echerd. "I've had a whole bunch of alumni text me about how proud they were of our accomplishment. They were really rooting for the guys. It feels really good for this team. These guys don't think about it, but they do represent the guys that came before them. They've made them all really proud with this first state championship."
Led by individual 2A state champion Alex Hefner, the Red Devils carded a team score of 611 during the two-day tournament, which was four strokes better than second-place North Lincoln (615).
A senior, Hefner led wire-to-wire during the 2A tournament and outlasted 83 other golfers in the 2A ranks to capture the crown.
"I've been playing really good golf," Hefner said. "I knew if I played well today, it'd be hard for the other competitors to catch me. I played well enough. Knowing the course really helped a lot. Experience was one of the biggest factors of all. You aren't as nervous. You are more calm."
Hefner carded a combined score of 142, which included rounds of 70 and 72. He finished two strokes ahead of Carrboro's Kaleb Lester.
"Alex was really clutch over the past two days," Echerd said. "We wouldn't have been able to pull off this victory without the scores he put up over the past two days. He really came with a purpose to this golf course. He wanted to be an individual state champ. He was able to come out and pull it off because of his preparation, hard work and everything he put into his game over the past year. It showed off over the past couple of days. He proved he is the best 2A golfer in the state."
Maiden's Thomas Lilly finished tied for third at the event, carding rounds of 74 and 73 on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
The Red Devils' Trey Burton tied for ninth place with a score of 151.
Hefner is the first Newton-Conover boys golfer to win a state title and second golfer overall to claim a state trophy.
N-C's Lucy Loflin won two state championships in girls golf in 1978-79.
The team state title for the Red Devils is their second this year and continues a string of success for the school at the state level in recent years.
The Newton-Conover wrestling team captured its first 2A dual team title in February.
The school has also won state titles in volleyball (2012), boys tennis (2010-11), football (2008), boys soccer (2007) and boys track (2000) during the past 13 years.
The N-C golf team finishes the year having accomplished all three of its goals — winning county, conference and state golf titles.
"Last year, we came down here to states and didn't know what to expect," Hefner said. "It was our first year down here. This year, we came down here and knew what we had to do. If we played well, we knew we had a really good chance of winning. We played well and won. This is great. The team sets goals every year. It is awesome to accomplish what we wanted."