CHARLOTTE — Depth and consistency proved to be a winning combination for Charlotte Catholic.
Catholic won its first boys’ golf state championship in 14 years when the Cougars ran away from the rest of the field to win the Class 3A Boys’ Golf Championship on May 8 at Longleaf Golf and Family Club at Southern Pines.
Catholic fired a 305-305 610 to finish 34-over par and 19 shots ahead of runner-up Clayton, which carded a 314-315 629. Marvin Ridge finished in fourth place after the Mavericks carded a 314-320 634 (58-over par).
Catholic was the only school in the field that placed its top four golfers in the 70s both days.
“Our depth allowed us to put some quality scores there,” Catholic coach Shawn Panther said. “We didn’t have to take a score in the 80s and every other school had to take a score in the 80s. That is what won it for us.”
Drew Hackett led Catholic with a fourth-place finisher after the junior carded a 76-74 6-over 150. Sophomore Jake Hart finished tied for seventh after a 77-75 8-over par 152. Jack Heath finished in 13th for the Cougars (154) while Will Sleeper rounded out the scoring tied for 23rd (157).
Hackett was only 2-over on the final day despite hitting two balls out of bounds. Hackett carded birdies on three of his last four holes.
“Drew didn’t make the team his freshman year and he didn’t pout,” Panther said. “He didn’t complain and he worked hard. He got better and he got stronger and by the end of his junior year he was the conference player of the year and had the lowest scoring average on the team. Now, he is having Division I programs starting to look at him. I’m so proud of him for putting the work in and he has earned everything he got this year.”
Catholic, which won the Southern Carolina Conference golf tournament last month, advanced to the state championships after winning the Class 3A Midwest Regional at River Bend Golf Course in New Bern. Catholic finished at 11-over par 298, nine strokes ahead of runner-up Tuscola.
All five Catholic golfers finished in the top five, although only the top four finishers on each team count in the team standings. Hackett and Hart both finished tied for second at 2-over 74. Heath and Alex Rubino finished tied for third at 3-over 75 while Will Sleeper finished in a fifth-place tie at 5-over 77.
“We didn’t have any go super low, but because we were consistent, that was the key to regionals,” Panther said. “Everybody was right there. Nobody else had five scores in the 70s.”
And the future looks bright for Catholic as Sleeper is the only senior in the Cougars’ top five.
“If the kids keep working hard in the offseason like I know they will, hopefully, we will be in position next year,” Panther said.