The North Sand Mountain golf program is back at the mountaintop of Class 1A-2A Golf.

NSM cruised to the Class 1A-2A Boys Golf State Tournament championship this week, besting the state runner-up by 28 strokes during the AHSAA Golf Championships at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Grand National Lake Course in Auburn Monday and Tuesday.

The Bison shot a team score of 325 to take the Round 1 lead before carding a 316 — their best round of the season — to run away with a second state golf championship in the past five seasons.

NSM finished at +65/641, finishing 28 strokes in front of state runner-up Elba (+93/669), 36 better than third-place Pike Liberal Arts (+101/677) and 64 better than fourth-place Athens Bible (+129/705).

“I am thankful to be a part of such a great group,” said NSM head coach Danielle Maples, who also coached Section’s 2011-12 Class 2A Girls Basketball state championship team and is the first person in the Jackson County School System history to be the head coach of state championship teams in two different sports.

“They have worked so hard this season to make themselves and each other better. Either Luke (Maples) or Coach (Jarrett) Moore had them on the range or playing rounds everyday possible. I’m glad they didn’t sit back and think the 16-stroke lead would win it for them. They worked too hard this year to let it slip away. They were excited about the 16-stroke lead, but knew they had to go out and do the same thing the next day.”

NSM won its first golf state championship back in 2019, and after the 2020 state tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was in the hunt in 2021 and 2022.

The Bison, who had no seniors in its state-tournament lineup, won their second state championship in convincing fashion thanks to consistent rounds from their golfers each day.

Junior Jarrett Hill shot a two-round 11-over par 155 to lead the NSM effort. He finished tied for fourth overall, shooting a 7-over par 79 in Round 1 and a 4-over par 76 in Round 2. 

Sophomore Blake Maples tied for sixth after shooting a 6-over par 78 each day to finish at 12-over 156 while freshman Brady Anderson was 11th with a two-round score of 164 (82-82), freshman Kade Davis was 12th with a 166 (86-80) and freshman Duncan Wilks was 17th with a 175 (88-87).

“The boys went out on the first day and battled through a tough course and even though it wasn't their best, it was enough to build a 16 shot lead. I was worried they would get too comfortable but they woke up the next morning with that fight in their eyes to finish the goal we set — to win a state title,” Moore said. 

“They came out on Day 2 and played their hearts out. They shot the best round of the year as a team on the final day to win. I believe the keys to such an amazing tournament was the preparation and the kid’s mindset. We talked through our game plan and took physical and mental notes in our preparation and the boys went out and executed. They are an amazing young group of guys and I look forward to the years to come.” 

NSM’s second round featured weather delays late in the day and a race against the clock with darkness looming, but the Bison celebrated another state title at sunset.

“Watching them celebrate brought back memories of my first state championship, knowing this is something they will remember for a lifetime,” Danielle Maples said. “I’m so excited for them and so proud of them.”

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