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Opinion: Best of the best? Follow high school golf's lead
Lambert's group of Sharon Mun, Averi Cline, Iris Cao, Sara Im and Katherine Chang that brought the Longhorns their second national championship in its 12-year history. - photo by David Roberts

Lambert most likely had the best baseball team in the country in 2014. 

The Longhorns certainly had the credentials. Their roster boasted more future Division I baseball players [10] than starting positions, they won every single regular-season game, and they captured the Class 6A state championship, beating Milton twice in a best-of-three series. 

Three weeks later, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper placed Lambert at the top of its nationwide poll, thereby declaring the Longhorns national champions. 

Lambert finished ahead of Barbe [La.] and Puyallup [Wa.] in the poll, each champions in their respective home states. 

Lambert ran roughshod through the state of Georgia during the first half of the season, dominating its first 14 games to a combined score of 156-43. During spring break, the Longhorns took their show on the road and swept teams from Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas, which gave Lambert's strength of schedule a boost. 

What would have happened if Lambert faced Barbe or Puyallup?

Just as they did all season, the Longhorns likely would have found a way to pull through. 

But what a spectacle it would have been.

That's what made Lambert's performance at last week's NHSGA High School Golf National Invitational so impressive. There's no question the Longhorns had the best girls golf team in the state this past year; not only did they win the Class 7A title, but they did so by 42 strokes and won every single tournament they played. 

Is it possible they had they best team in the country?

Through their play during last week's 54-hole tournament, the Longhorns answered unquestionably, unequivocally: yes.

In case you missed it, Lambert won the invitational by 28 strokes. The top 10 included three teams from Arizona, one from South Carolina, one from Nevada, two from Texas, one from Indiana and one from North Carolina.

But it was Georgia's group of Sharon Mun, Averi Cline, Iris Cao, Sara Im and Katherine Chang that brought Lambert its second national championship in its 12-year history.

Could there have been more?

How would Lambert's state champion boys lacrosse team fare against the rest of the country? After all, the Longhorns lost only one game this season, a narrow 12-9 defeat at the hands of eventual Class 1A-5A state champion Blessed Trinity.

Evidence from two years ago suggests Lambert could do more than hold its own. That's when the Longhorns beat Ponte Vedra [Fl.] during a spring break tournament, 11-6, marking the only loss for a Ponte Vedra team that finished 24-1 and won its state championship game 19-7.

And how about the rest of the county?

Where would West Forsyth's juggernaut girls soccer team fall in a nationwide competition? Should Forsyth County produce a GHSA state champion football team — and the odds of that happening seem to increase by the day — where would they rank among champions from states such as California, Florida and Texas?

If the National High School Golf Association can host teams from across the country and crown a national champion, can other sports follow their lead?

It seems cross country, track and field, and swim and dive would be the most plausible. 

In cross country and track and field, the Atlanta Track Club already invites all of the state champions to a "meet of champions" immediately following the season. If all 49 other states follow suite, ironing out a nationwide meet shouldn't be too difficult. 

Swim and dive might be tricky, especially considering how the top athletes swim yearround with their club team. Still, you might say the same about high school golf and how the junior golf circuit is essentially a yearlong commitment. 

Sports such as football, basketball and baseball would be incredibly difficult to pull off, but how about this for starters — host an all-classification tournament to determine a state champion. 

In Georgia, that would mean an eight-team invitational between the 7A, 6A, 5A, 4A, 3A, 2A, 1A Public and 1A Private state champions. Assuming each round is a one-game series, that would require the state champion to play an additional three games to determine an all-classification winner.

If that attracts enough attention — and, really, when does high school football in Georgia not attract attention? — a nationwide expansion is only a few steps away. One need only look at the wildly successful Corky Kell Classic and how the annual kickoff tournament will feature Alabama power Hoover High School this year.

Not only would it be an unrivaled viewing spectacle, but teams could actually claim national champion status. 

That would mean even more than winning a state championship. Just ask Lambert girls golf coach Shane Fortenberry.

"It did, because you knew the magnitude of the teams you were playing against," Fortenberry said after the Longhorns' win. "You've got state champions from other states to come in and compete, so when you look at it that way, you look at it and go, 'This is something that really does mean something.' It's not like it's just a title — we actually went out and beat some of the best teams in the country."