State championships are funny things in high school sports. They can sometimes establish a winning culture on a team, and other times they can be an albatross, causing teams to look backward instead of forward.

If this week is any indication, the Division 2 State Championship earned last fall by the Bishop Stang High School golf team isn't going to be a problem next season.

The Spartans were invited to the luxurious Pinehurst golf resort in North Carolina to play in the National High School Golf Association Invitational. The competition was fierce.  Every team in the tournament was made up of state champions.

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Pinehurst is the big dance. Outside of Augusta National, Pinehurst is probably one of the premier golf courses in the country. The U.S. Open has been played at Pinehurst three times. The PGA tournament and the Ryder Cup have been down there.

This course is rich in history. It's a long way from Slocum Road.

So, how did the Stang boys fare on the big stage up against that level of competition?

No big deal. They just flew down to North Carolina and secured a spot in the Top 10 in America. The ninth-place finish guarantees another invite to the nationals next season.

Dawn Cormier via Facebook
Dawn Cormier via Facebook

Head Coach Tom Kennedy says he was so proud of how his team settled in and played over the three days. The Spartans started the week golfing on the hardest of the courses, followed by a mid-level course and ending with the most manageable course.

Kennedy, a 1970 graduate of St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers -- the Division 1 state champs and the only other Massachusetts team in the tournament -- was happy to finish three spots higher than his alma mater.

All members of last year's championship team will return to this fall's golf team.

"What happened last year, happened last year," says Kennedy. "If you want to win another state championship you've got to go out there and earn it.  Everybody is going to be gunning for you."

LOOK: 50 images of winning moments from sports history

Sometimes images are the best way to honor the figures we've lost. When tragedy swiftly reminds us that sports are far from the most consequential thing in life, we can still look back on an athlete's winning moment that felt larger than life, remaining grateful for their sacrifice on the court and bringing joy to millions.

Read on to explore the full collection of 50 images Stacker compiled showcasing various iconic winning moments in sports history. Covering achievements from a multitude of sports, these images represent stunning personal achievements, team championships, and athletic perseverance.

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