The Hough boys' golf team knew it had talent coming into its first season.
"We were all (No.) 1 or 2 at our old schools," said junior David Sargent, who was the No. 2 golfer at Hopewell last season. "We all had high expectations."
Also having solid players from North Mecklenburg and Lake Norman Charter, Hough coach Erik Herberth said the Huskies had five talented golfers who could win any tournament from the beginning.
Junior Conner Lewis, a former Viking golfer, said getting along with his new teammates didn't take long.
"We all knew each other pretty well," he said. "We were all comfortable with each other."
In addition to Sargent and Lewis, junior Mace Timberlake as well as sophomores Clay Brown and Peyton White each made key contributions to the team.
Hough's top five finished the year among the six best golfers in the I-Meck, leading the Huskies to regular season and tournament conference championships. The five of them were also named all-conference.
Although the Huskies didn't make states as a team, finishing fifth at last week's 4A West Regional after a disappointing day, the team is happy with how the season went.
Sargent, who was the I-Meck Player of the Year after shooting a 74 to win the I-Meck tournament last month, said Hough's success grew from its players' "team-first" mentality, as he and his teammates grew close instead of developing animosity about what spot they were playing in.
"It didn't really matter what number we were," said Sargent. "We just wanted to come together and play as well as we could."
Sargent began the season as the team's No. 2 player with Lewis at the top spot, but that changed midway through the year. Sargent had the most successful individual season for the Huskies, earning a spot at this week's 4A state championship after shooting a 74 at regionals.
Sargent, who says he's had a club in his hands ever since he could walk, is a consistent golfer who aims to keep his emotions in check on the course.
"The more calm I am the better I play," he said. "I guess I just try to play as 'boring' as I can."
His coach thinks Sargent's experience and dedication have allowed him to have a knack for golf.
"David is a hell of a player," said Herberth. "There's a difference between being able to stand on the range and make good golf swings and understanding the golf swing, going out on the golf course and having that translate into the game."
Herberth said Lewis is making strides toward that as well, although with less experience, having started playing golf five years ago, he gets frustrated when things don't go his way.
"Connor's a very, very good player," said Herberth. "But sometimes he has a tendency of getting in his own way a little bit."
Despite what Herberth puts as "over thinking," Lewis has had a solid year, as he continued to developed as a golfer. He finished second at the I-Meck tournament with a 75 and followed that up with a disappointing 77 at last week's regional.
Lewis admits improving is easier when you're just getting started in the sport.
"When you're shooting like 100 or 90, you can focus on your short game or other big things you can fix, but once you're shooting in the 70s, it's really hard to improve by a lot," he said. "It's just a process that takes a lot of work."
Having a former professional and college golfer as a coach, Lewis and his teammates have somebody who knows what they're going through and will help them achieve the goals they have.
"You take everything he says seriously because you know he's been there - in our shoes," said Sargent of Herberth, who played on the Nationwide Tour following a collegiate career at Ohio University.
With the season behind the Huskies, focus will start shifting toward next year, when expectations will be even higher.
"The way we've improved throughout this year as a team, I feel like we can improve next year even more," said Sargent.
To exceed this season's success, both Lewis and Sargent will be hard at work all summer long, playing in junior amateur tournaments.
Not losing any players, the Huskies can only improve, said Herberth.
"I think we're going to be in great shape coming into next year," he said.
"We're going to have a good nucleus for a while."
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